By Frank J. Buchman
Braxton and Brance are young inspirational ranch brothers already with strong boot hold in enjoyable lifetime careers.
On their ranch north of Sentinel, Oklahoma, Braxton, 10, and Brance, 14, are sons of Bill and Lori Barnett.
Braxton turns ink pens from lumber on a wood lathe and Brance makes high quality leather products out of cowhide.
Both of the hardworking ranch boys have high demand for their creations selling wholesale and retail throughout the Midwest.
With his dad, a woodcrafter hobbyist, attending a woodworking convention in Waco, Texas, Braxton got the pen turning urge. “It took some time learning to operate a lathe,” he admitted. “But I now have my own lathe and really enjoy making ink pens.”
Various kinds of hard wood including olive, oak, maple, hedge and other unique varieties are turned into pens.
“I generally buy the wood in one-inch-by-one-inch-by-five-inch or longer pieces,” Braxton explained. “A hole is drilled down the center of the wood block. Then I insert into it the ink cartridge which has a twist mechanism for opening and closing.”
Shaping the wood block into a pen is a tedious time consuming effort for the young woodcraftsman. “I have to work carefully and measure to make sure the pen diameter is correct,” he said. “The pens are sanded to be smooth and wood polish is applied.”
Braxton sometimes borrows a laser engraver from his brother Brance to inscribe names and brands on the pens. “People really like to have their own personalized wooden ink pen,” he admitted.
Demand for the most unique pens is high as Braxton sells them at various shows throughout the Midwest. Due to the quality and high amount of work involved in making the pens, they do have a definite cost.
“I sell the wooden pens wholesale for $25 and retail for $50,” Braxton said. Several dealers are marketing the pens.
“I’ve made more than 400 pens with customers from a wide area, actually already in seven states,” he added.
Looking to the future, Braxton said, “I want to keep making wooden ink pens, but also expand the business.” He plans to turn out bowls, glasses, cups and other unique products on his lathe.
“I think there will be a demand for these items especially when I personalize them,” Braxton predicted.
Never a dull moment in the Barnett ranch home, as Brance is just as busy as his little brother. “I started leathercraft when I got some leather tools as a Christmas present five years ago,” he said. “I actually wanted a 4-H project with the potential to develop into a business.”
A variety of bags, purses, wallets, Bible covers, stockings and picture frames are made by the young leather craftsman. “I also made a belt for my dad and will probably make more of them,” Brance said.
Entire cow or large calf hides are typically purchased to cut and fashion out many of the products. “I generally buy hides with hair on them for the variety of colors,” Brance said. “I also use finished colored embossed leather with a design on it.”
Veg-tanned hides work best for basket weave stamping and engraving. “Many people really like to have their name or brand engraved on what they buy,” Brance said. “I also often engrave western yokes into certain pieces to make them pretty,”
Products used to be stitched together by hand. “Now I have my own sewing machine which makes easier higher quality work,” Brance commented. “I still do some quarter-inch hand lacing.”
B&B Leatherworks are merchandised locally and over a wide area both retail and wholesale. “I sell my leatherwork at several shows and even had a booth at the National Finals Rodeo,” he said. Dealers are also being set up to sell his quality work.
Depending on the product, Brance’s leatherwork sells from $25 for a small piece to $250 retail for a personalized purse.
He received a $1,200 scholarship last year for being the state 4-H agriculture natural products project winner in Oklahoma.
His youthful hobby business looks to possibly becoming a lifetime career. “I want to get into saddle making as well as other tack,” Brance said. “I can see where there will always be a demand for a wide variety of high quality leather products.”
As if he isn’t busy enough with school, ranch cowherd work and his leather business, Brance has another entrepreneurship. “Last year, I became interested in hydroponic gardening,” he said. “I grow plants just in water without any soil. It has also turned out to be a good business with increasing demand for the production.”
Obviously, the Barnett Ranch is always a busy place to be with so many diverse family enterprises.
Ten-year-old Braxton Barnett is a skilled wood lathe operator turning pens out of a variety of hard woods. Brance Barnett, 14, has a unique leather business earning him the state 4-H agriculture natural products project award in Oklahoma. His leadership abilities shine as Brance helps younger 4-H club members learn about leathercraft.
More than 400 ink pens have been turned out of wood on the lathe of Braxton Barnett who finds high demand for his unique work. Bill and Lori Barnett of Sentinel, Oklahoma, are with their talented entrepreneur sons Brance, who creates a variety of leather products, and Braxton, who makes ink pens out of wood.