In this newsletter I will cover why people like my Dr Bob rustication and Dr Bob hawkbills.


I frequently get compliments about my rustication finish on my pipes. It is usually “I really like your rustication” or “I like the way the rustication feels.”

Rustication is a texture finish on the wood of the bowl or shank. There are several ways to accomplish this. The first time I seriously did rustication was after Bill Fuerbach(owner of Kaywoodie Pipes) demonstrated it at one of our Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club meetings in Massachusetts. He had a piece of metal pipe fitting, T-shaped, so you could have a handle and the straight section had 6-8 sharpened nails set in aluminum glue. So the technique required twisting the rig as to gouge out the wood. It produces a nice rustication but it is labor intensive. I remember using a sweat band and taking frequent breaks.

The method I use was discovered basically by accident and that is by gouging out the wood with a drill. Somehow I acquired some dental drill bits from my dentist and tried them. They work well because they are durable and of the best shape, usually cylindrical. I make vertical gouges all around the bowl or shank and then repeat the process diagonally. While it takes a while to get the right texture, I don’t wear a sweat band or take lots of breaks!!!!

This rustication works well because of it’s visual and tactile appeal. Because there is depth to the cuts, shadows develop and/or stain will take on different appearances, even double contrasting. Visually it just “pops.” Also the technique produces a lot of randomness which appeals to the eye. The feel or tactile dimension is liked by many as it really gives a rough and almost pointed sensation and grips well.

I get compliments on the light feel of my rusticated pipes. The “why” is simple as a lot of wood is removed via rustication.

In summary, my Dr Bob Rustication is very unique, has a great eye appeal, has a wonderful tactile dimension and produces a lighter weight.


My hawkbills have been my best sellers. I have devoted a lot of time to learn what is a proper hawkbill shape and my mentor has been John Seiler. He collects the hawksbill shape and so he has a depth of knowledge bar none. John has been gracious enough to allow me to examine and photograph some in his collection. He has taught me that a proper hawkbill has several defining characteristics.

The bowl is generally rounded somewhat apple shaped and slightly squated or compressed. The shank tapers from the bowl to the button on the bit, both from side and top of the shank.

The shank curves upward and peaks at the end of the shank where the bit starts.

The top of the bowl is level with the peak of the shank and bit (bowl top and shank end are level when upside down). The tenon of the bit is straight into the mortise so it is parallel with the bowl top, otherwise that junction would not be symmetrical with the shank and bowl. So this shape always gives you a bent shank pipe and has a comfortable mouth feel.

I usually rusticate the hawkbill but occasionally use sandblast as long as there is good grain. The smooth finish also works well.

As you can see, the hawkbill shape is unique and challenging to construct so it requires a lot of attention and time. Many have told me that I “nailed” the shape.

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If you have any questions please feel free to email me at: bobkiess@gmail.com