Andrew Wike
11 Secrets of a Bruce Weaver Sandblast

A couple of weeks ago, master blaster Bruce Weaver was here visiting the shop. We're all quite familiar with the quality of his ultra-fine sandblasts. He aggressively attacks the briar to reveal the briar's intricate growth rings for a finish unlike anything else out there. Affable as can be, he gladly agreed to share some of his secrets in this exclusive interview. So here they are: 11 secrets behind Bruce Weaver and his one of a kind sandblasts.

1. How would you describe your sandblasts in your own words?

They are executed so the symmetry of the pipe remains the same; I never touch the growth rings and only remove the softer wood. In this fashion, I am certain that the shaping of the piece is never compromised.

2. When did you first discover your sandblasts were so unique?

I was extremely fortunate to have found a style that had not been done, in blasting, and endeavored to not copy those that did a similar style previously. To have found something unique in an object that just has two holes was thrilling. To be candid, I felt rather blessed, in this regard.

3. What is it about your style that differs from so many other artisans?

From the onset, I didn't want to replicate what Mr. Cooke or Mr. Von Erck had developed early on; they were the pioneers in pencil blasting. I had spent quite a bit of time studying and experimenting with different styles and landed upon my style rather quickly.

4. Collectors seem to flock to your sandblasts. Looking through their eyes, which aspect do you think appeals to them the most? What do you think causes that attraction?

The fact that I attack the briar in such a fashion that I can either go deep or subtle, keeping the symmetry constant.

5. How long does a typical sandblast take?

To be honest, I've never really been cognizant of the time. I will say that I've sat down at 10:00AM and looked up, and it was 4:00PM! I simply get lost in the process. Some might find it tedious, but I find what the briar does simply fascinating.

6. Can you describe your blasting set up briefly?

It's a well lit cabinet with a large and powerful magnifying glass attached to the window!

7. How do you determine which pipes become sandblasts and which ones are polished smooth?

I want to blast every pipe because I love the process. There are a number of factors that force me to make a smooth: superb grain sans blemishes, rings that are simply too tight, letting customers know I have the chops to make a smooth, and ring/grain structure.

8. You've often stated that you enjoy the blasting process. What's your favorite part of sandblasting a pipe?

When blasting, just watching the patterns and structure of the grain. One can see how the climate has changed between seasons. It's as if you know when the growing season had a lot of rain and when it was dry. It's much like looking at the rings on a fallen tree. It also gives me time to think, but most of the time I have the TV on and listen to that while blasting. I'm not big on music in the shop while I work. I have CNBC on the TV or listen to books on tape.

9. How has your blasting style developed over the years? Were there any key influential figures that helped along the way?

Lee von Erck introduced me to this process. What has happened over the years is that I've become confident in my style and am now able to read what the briar is going to offer in a blast.

10. Do you have any advice for up-and-coming artisans looking to try their hand at sandblasting?

Blasting setups can be rather expensive, mine was quite costly. Save and purchase the finest setup you can afford, read, talk to other pipe makers, and find a style that best suits you and your temperament.

11. Sometimes bad things happen. Off the top of your head, can you recall a particular moment when a sandblast went especially wrong?

Honestly, I can't. I blast at such a low PSI, it's difficult to blast away a shape. I have lost a pipe to the blades of a dust collector! Sanded a stem into the air hole! And, have had one crash to the floor while buffing. I think these are things that most pipe makers have done, at least once!!!

So there you have it: 11 secrets behind Bruce Weaver and his unique sandblasts. Check out our site for our latest Bruce Weaver offerings! Have a favorite Weaver blast in your collection? Feel free to share your stories and comments below. We'd love to hear from you!


    • physicsman on August 26, 2014
    • His technique looks like the ablation on the bottom of return vehicles. Would be cool to do an apollo tribute with an apollo capsule in briar and rustication on the bottom/top like the charred heat shield.

    • Andrew W on August 27, 2014
    • Good idea, physicsman!

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