I’ve been cleaning out my workshop this past weekend, and I got to some serious reminiscing. Here’s the story of how the Goulet Pen Company was born.
Just after graduating from Virginia Tech in 2006, Rachel and I were newly married and living in our first apartment, a nice little place with a big covered balcony.
I always had an interest in wood working, which was fed in large part to Norm Abram’s New Yankee Workshop that I used to watch on our fuzzy tv (rabbit ears!) on Saturday afternoons.
I was itching to build stuff, but didn’t have the room to build large antique replicas like Norm did. So I found something that I could do (on a covered balcony)…..turn pens. It was cheap to get into (at least it SEEMED that way, haha), took up little space, was fun, and produced useful items! I knew absolutely nothing about fine writing, but after making my first pen I was hooked.
I made my first wood pens, and not 2 weeks later landed a corporate deal for 120 of them for Christmas. I had to learn FAST how to make nice pens!
Long story short, I got into fountain pens, which led me to ink and paper, and I’ve fallen so in love with ink and paper that the pen making is no longer a part of my life. However, my humble beginnings as an ignorant-yet-ambitious pen maker are still fresh in my memory and dear to my heart. Enjoy these pics of my very first ‘workshop’.
Looking from the living room, you can see my main ‘turning station’, which consisted of a dinky Grizzly lathe and my dad’s ‘borrowed’ disc/belt sander on a mechanic’s chest.
You see my beat up old table saw (also ‘borrowed’ from my dad) that was noisy as a jet engine. It’s a miracle we weren’t evicted! What’s the plastic all about? Dust control…and keeping wondering neighbors from seeing what’s going on (we were on the top floor apartment). That’s a router table to the left there. And of course lounge chairs in the background there…..we never used them (where would we???), we still have them, and we still never use them! We don’t ‘lounge’….
Router table….the only thing that might have actually been louder than the table saw. Again, miracle we weren’t evicted.
There was an outdoor closet on the balcony, which I took over as well. There’s some pegboard for the ‘hangy’ stuff. You can see and hanging retractable light (that also had an electrical outlet) that I put in place of the light fixture in the closet. I had to set that up because there was no power on the balcony itself. I wonder why not? Haha!
I am seriously all about some pegboard.
Wood, finishing supplies, tool boxes…
Here’s the whole balcony. Pretty big, huh? There was no electricity out there.
I had to drape electrical cords out of the window and hang flourescent lights so I could see at night! I’ve always been a night owl 😉
I had (and still do have) containers labeled with all of my small parts. They’re resting on an old typewriter desk that I bought at an estate auction for $10!!
You can NEVER have too many clamps!
Bandsaw (borrowed from dad again!) and mac-daddy drill press (this was an upgrade, not my original POS one!). That drill press weighs more than my wife did when she was 9-months pregnant!
My first little dinky lathe.
And the workhorse, the mini lathe. This was an upgrade, I started out with the little Grizzly.
That’s a very fancy workbench made from an entertainment unit I chopped up and repurposed! And there’s my little mitre saw hiding under it 😉
Artsy photo…….attempt 😛
This whole setup was insane. I would work outside in 95+ degree heat with no wind (the balcony blocked it) and the mosquitoes would eat me alive while I was turning my little pens late at night. I was so into it and determined to learn the craft.
I think back to how ambitious, naive, and determined I was back then. Now I’m just as ambitious and determined, but thankfully I know a few more things!
It still amazes me to this day that:
- Rachel let me buy these tools
- Rachel let me take over the balcony like this
- We didn’t get evicted with all of the noise I caused!!
I (and all of you) owe Rachel a great debt of gratitude, for if it wasn’t for her patience and trust, my crazy little pen business idea would never have started and the Goulet Pen Company would never have existed. She constantly supports my crazy ideas and continues to put up with all of the stress and discomfort caused by being with me.
Since these photos were taken we moved twice, changed the whole scope of the business and had our son. This just goes to show how much can change in such a short period of time, and how you never know just where you can end up when you live by following your passion. A lot has changed for us since the ‘workshop balcony’ days, but I will always hold this time near and dear to my heart 🙂