Sandblast or Rustication?

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Jul 17, 2017
I was thinking back to when I first took up pipe smoking. I was a big fan of rustication, and I really didn't care much for sandblast. Now it's the other way around, and in my reflection I realized the reason why.
When I was first starting out, I only looked at pipes within the lower end of the price spectrum. Nothing much over $100. A large percentage of sandblasted pipes were a very poor example of the technique. Most resembling the texture of a knockdown finish on drywall. I appreciated the deep, craggy, character that rustication offered, and saw sandblasting as a very soulless finish. Now, I love a deep craggy blast, and 360 ring grain, and don't really care much for rustication, unless it seems to have an aim, like the Eltang or Former, stacked Rustication, or a Wiley Old Oak etc
So, I'll end my rumination on rustication and turn it over to you. Which do you prefer?


Feb 21, 2013
Sandblast shows the grain and lets nature take the spotlight, so I think it tends to be favored, and I certainly savor my blasts. I treasure my Ser Jacopo with its deep and expressive textured grain, however I also like very light blast that looks embossed and subtle, such as that on my Tsuge tasting pipe. So all honor to sandblast and its glories. However, rustication is a fine art. Done well it can be highly visually pleasing, and combined with carving has an extra dimension of texture. Some of the old U.S. factory rusticated pipes used to look clunky to me, a little slapdash and shoddy, but when enhanced by time and patina, I think they look evocative and kind of dashing, like an well restored Nash convertible. So yes to both sandblast and rustication/carving, on a pipe by pipe basis of course.


May 26, 2012
Sarasota Florida
I have one pipe that is considered a rustication and that pipe is the first I ever bought. It is a Savinelli Linea Pui 5. It is a group 5 Apple and it smoked freaking great when I was starting out. I learned the difference between a nice blast and a rustication early on and the only rusticated pipes I bought were a Castello Sea Rock and a giant Ser Jacob. I got rid of the Ser J as it was too freaking big and heavy.
Back then I was a grain whore and only bought a few blasted pipes mostly Formers.

Now I buy almost exclusively sand blasted pipes as I find a nice blast very interesting and the price is so much lower than straight grains. I was told a long time ago that you cannot smoke grain and I heeded that advice.

I prefer a natural blast that follows the rings of the pipe. I am not a fan of the forced blast from makers like JT Cooke and Jose Rubio. To me they look like a rusticated pipe as the blast is so perfect and doesn't look natural to me. Here are a couple of examples.

My Jose Rubio:

Here is one of my Rad Davis blasts.

Here is an interesting blast from Bruce Weaver.

Here is one of my newer Jack Howell pipes.

Finally here is my Larrysson that has a great blast to my eye.


Jun 16, 2021
Spencer, OH
In general I prefer sandblasted pipes to rusticated ones.

I really like good wire rustication. Even as a Peterson fan, don't really dig a Donegal Rocky style finish.

Just my .02

Briar Lee

Sep 4, 2021
Humansville Missouri
At first I didn’t know the difference between carving, rustication, and sandblast. I didn’t know that natural finish was better than stained.

Then I thought the only reason a pipe was sandblasted was to salvage a hunk of briar not fit to be smooth. That may not be true.

Here’s my guess as to grades of pipes.

1. Smooth finish natural

2. Smooth finish stained

3. Lightly carved smooth

4. Rusticated


A sandblast pipe is a choice by the maker to make a blast pipe. I doubt they choose perfect natural finish briars, but they might.

But carving or rustication on a pipe is because the briar isn’t good enough to be smooth finished.

Am I right?