Eric DeBrum is a senior at Coginchaug who has a very unique hobby: he makes custom wooden pens and sells them. He started woodworking a little over two years ago during his sophomore year and is building himself a client base.

“I got into pens, which was one of my beginner projects, and I just went off with it,” DeBrum said. “I just took everything I possibly could out of it. I started to make high-end pens and making them for people as gifts, and I kept going from there.”

DeBrum designs the pens himself and makes the wooden components in his garage workshop, only buying some metal parts. He uses basic tools and mainly uses a lathe to carve the wood down and get it to the finished look. He also uses a bandsaw to cut it down; for some woods, he uses a table saw. From start to finish, making a pen can take him up to two hours.

“My shop took me–to get the shop where I really wanted it–took me probably a year-and-a-half of just going on Craigslist and looking at tools, but my shop is always going,” DeBrum explained. “I’m still looking at tools that I’m going to buy, and there’s always stuff I’m going to add to it; it’s always a work in progress for me.”

Along with basic wooden pens, he also makes custom pens. When he is at craft fairs, people can order custom pens by matching different woods to different pen styles. He has a lot of orders for this Christmas season, most of them custom.

His price range depends on the pen, but DeBrum’s basic pen sells for $20. The price of the pen depends on the pattern of labor, parts and profit, but he just adds up these factors and usually has an equation for it to make things easier for him.

Besides pens, Eric is now trying to make bowls. His Coginchaug Senior Project (CUSP) this year is to get more into making bowls. He still loves making pens, but after two years and almost 400 pens made, DeBrum wants to add something new to his repertoire.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said, “and the money aspect behind it is always good, but it’s more rewarding for me for people to come up to like my mom and say like, ‘Oh, you must be so proud of your son; he owns his own business at this young,’ and that’s the more rewarding part of it. Money will always come, but just to hear people admire my work, that’s what I really like about it.”

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