Blog by Steve Laug
I have been following Jose Rubio on Facebook for a long time and reading his page that showed his work. I really like the looks of the deep sandblast finish that he has worked out. It really does show the cross grain and ring grains very well and his finish really makes them stand out. I also like his smooth finished and the shank adornments that he uses. His stem work really looks well done and very comfortable. Each time he posted a picture or a series of pictures of his current work I paused and spent time looking at the pipe. Several weeks ago he posted a pipe that really got my attention. It was one of those moments when PAD (pipe acquisition disorder) reared up in my and I wanted this pipe. I included the photos of the pipe below that he originally posted.I put the desire for the pipe on hold for a bit and did some research on Jose Rubio. I wanted to understand what drove him and his passion. I turned first to one of the sellers that I follow here in Canada – Maxim W. Engel (who lives in Toronto). Maxim has been selling and following Jose. He has done a great job summarizing his work (https://pipes2smoke.com/collections/jose-rubio). I quote from that below as he captures my feelings about what I have seen very well.
Jose Rubio has been repairing and making pipes for over 35 years. His goal was to create a superb looking pipe that was also a superb smoker. He takes great pride in hand selecting only the best blocks. All his pipes have a slight V shaped interior as he feels this is the best shape for the largest variety of tobacco types…
He is almost fanatical about his stems, made from Grade “A” German Vulcanite and that all stems be between 4-4.2 millimeters thick and hand sands the sides edges. His stems are amongst the best I have ever seen.
His sandblast almost always have deep ring grain which he achieves by only using smooth straight grains and a 5 part blasting process that takes him 10-12 hours per pipe. He is absolutely convinced that his deep blasting, by creating a greater surface area, delivers a cooler smoke. He has recently cut back his production to 90 50 pipes a year. Jose Rubio’s sandblast are among the best there is. — Maxim
I turned then to Pipedia and was surprised to find that Maxim had written that article as well. It is slightly different from his words on his Pipes2smoke site (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Jose_Rubio). I quote that below.
Jose Rubio started at first as a collector then later as a pipe repairman. After a few years he started to make pipes within his goal being not only to create a superb looking pipe but a superb smoking pipe. He takes great pride in hand selecting only the best blocks. All his pipes have a slight V shaped interior as he feels this is the best shape for the largest variety of tobacco types to deliver of their best.
He is almost fanatical about his stems and insists that all stems be between 4-4.2 millimeters thickness and the sides edges be smooth, which he hand sands. All are made from Grade A German Vulcanite. His stems are amongst the best I have seen. His sandblast almost always have ring grain which he achieves by only using straight grins and a 5 part blasting process. It takes him up to 12 hours to sandblast a pipe. He is absolutely convinced that his deep blasting by creating a greater surface are delivers a fresh and cool smoke. His pipes are individually crafted to the highest engineering tolerances to deliver the best smoking characteristics. He makes a maximum of 110 pipes a year.
Information and pipe photos, courtesy pipes2smoke.com
City: Oviedo, Asturias, Spain
I was excited to read that Jose Rubio had been a pipe repair person. Since I am one as well this intrigued me to see how he applied what he had learned and seen in that work to move ahead as a pipe maker. I decided it was time to contact him and see what he had in mind with the pipe. We fired messages back and forth and he sent me a lot of photos of the pipe to guide me in my decision making process. I am sharing some of those photos below. The deal was sealed once I saw the pipe. I wrote Jose and closed the sale. I paid him through his PayPal account and he said it would go out on Monday morning. He sent me the tracking number and on Friday afternoon the pipe arrived in Canada from Spain. It took just five days to come from him to me. I was astonished when my wife brought it in and handed it to me. I sat for a bit in my chair with the bag on my lap contemplating opening it and having a look. I got up from my contemplation and took the package into the kitchen to open it. I cut the mailing package and found a small bubble wrapped package inside. I removed the tape holding the wrap in place and found a second smaller bubble wrapped package and nicely made pipe pouch with Jose’s logo on the front and royal blue draw strings.I unwrapped the second package and found a small parcel wrapped in yellow tissue paper. At this point I knew I was dealing with the stem but I had not even looked at the bowl. I unwrapped the tissue and a most beautiful and well made stem was in my hands. The button and slot were perfect to my liking. The tenon was flawless. It was a very nice looking piece. With that I opened the pouch and removed a beautiful business card and another tissue wrapped parcel. I am very impressed with the care that Jose took with the packing and the classy looking pouch, cards and personal thank you. Wow. Well done. I unwrapped the bowl and took my time looking at it. It was stunning. I slowly, carefully inserted the stem in the shank. What a beautiful looking pipe! The dimensions of the pipe are quite diminutive but were exactly what I expected – Length: 13cm/ 5.11 inches, Height: 3.81cm/ 1 ½ inches, Tobacco chamber height: 3.7 cm/ 2 ¾ inches, Tobacco chamber diameter: 19 mm/ ¾ of an inch, Weight: 44 grams/ 1 ½ ounces. It really is a beautiful pipe and the workmanship is flawless. I love the combination of the stains chosen, the smooth rim top and the brilliant sandblast. The acrylic shank ring is beautiful and the stem work is magnificent. The bowl is conical (Maxim calls it V shaped) as Jose believes that is the best bowl shape for smoking. The inside of the bowl is sanded smooth and looks almost too good to smoke! The fit of the tenon in the mortise is perfect and the chamfered/funneled end of the tenon is another fine touch making for a better smoke. I took some photos of the pipe once I removed it from the pouch. I will fire the pipe up this weekend. But just on craftsmanship alone and design I highly recommend considering Jose Rubio if you are in the market for a beautiful, craftsman Hand made pipe. I do not think you will be disappointed. Thank you Jose.