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1-844-477-7707 (US only)
(920) 684-4990 (International) | Contact Us

Pieces of History: Brandan Gauthier and Gauthier Furniture

When an old building is destroyed, what happens to the parts, the physical remnants of all the labor and craftsmanship that went into the structure? All too often, those components are simply discarded. As historic buildings in Wisconsin’s Manitowoc County fell, Brandan Gauthier decided to do something with the unique bits and pieces left behind.

“To see these buildings go down—that were built the way nothing else today is built—really got me thinking that… these components need to be saved,” Gauthier reflects.

So he began to collect and store parts of the past, from bricks to windows to unusual metal items. “I started going to these demo sites and asking, ‘Hey what are you going to do with this material?’” 

Now, through Gauthier Furniture, his artisanal creations showcase reclaimed wood and metal. “Everything I create with has history, has a story and a legacy behind it that needs to be told. The life of the material needs to live on, and I am just the catalyzer between the material and the finished product,” he says modestly.

Gauthier takes inspiration from the quality, beauty, and sheer size of the parts that went into the historic edifices. “These buildings were composed of timbers, longleaf pine, riveted iron, gears, lighting, flooring. Anything badass, anything with rivets, any sort of metal-shaped, formed steel, that when you look at it you go, ‘How in the hell did they make that?’ That’s the kind of stuff I was after.”

Not only are these components visually striking, but they also bring to mind the many workers who spent countless hours in the vast buildings. “I’m more attracted to the industrial structures,” Gauthier notes, “the structures where generations of people worked.” 

In this Baileigh Biography video, Gauthier displays some of the unique pieces he’s gathered over the years. One handsome table uses Douglas fir salvaged from the floor of the Aluminum Goods Manufacturing building. A massive drive gear from the old 17th street bridge in Twin Rivers was destined to become a conversation piece, the Bascule Bridge Table, seen below.

Gauthier provides the backstory for a set of giant timbers, 20 inches wide, 8 inches thick, and 20 feet long. They were taken from one of the oldest portions of the J.I. Case Tractor building, from the 1880s. On top of the lumber, you can see giant water intake guards, circa early 1900s, salvaged from Lake Michigan by Northern Divers, ready to be reimagined as an interior artwork/furniture project.

Gauthier offers a tour of his architectural storage space, which houses stacks and stacks of vintage boards, as well as hand-carved elements, windows, doors, and brass handrails. “Everything in this building, that is, material, has a story, a history, a legacy…. It’s been saved from the landfill. It’s been saved from rot and destruction, and it’s waiting on its assignment for its new life, pretty much.”

These materials give Gauthier ideas for future projects—and prove the truth of the old saying that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. “This is kind of where it starts. When I need to start doing some brainstorming and thinking about the components that I want to incorporate into the furniture, I come in here and I walk around and I get lost for a couple hours.”

As he’s walking around, Gauthier points out a “fancy Baileigh dust collector,” a cyclone-style model that filters the air. “One of the main things to keep a shop safe, especially when woodworking, is keeping the dust level down, so these machines are a must.”

Gauthier relies on many woodworking vintage tools, including two from his grandfather. He points out a drill press “that I fired up first at probably the age of about 7 years old. I’ve been using this one side by side with that old bandsaw. Been with me since day one.”

Just as Gauthier’s handiwork combines old and new, his business benefits from legacy machines, especially in the R&D shop, along with modern Baileigh models, in the metalworking shop. 

His Baileigh bandsaw “is one of the first Baileigh machines that I did purchase, and it was my first introductory step into metalworking. I knew I needed one of these machines to start with,” Gauthier recalls. “It’s very accurate, and I really enjoy this machine. I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do today without this machine.

Gauthier had plenty of experience using the Baileigh roll bender before he bought one: “I’ve always been going to other people’s shops and borrowing their rollers, including Baileigh Industrial themselves in their showroom.” He jokes about persuading our social media guru Shane Henderson to let him come in and spend plenty of time on the roll bender. “I need to make sure that the machines work so I offer to use them and make my own parts with them.”

Clearly the ring roller passed the test, because today Gauthier uses his very own for “mostly running around bandings for our round tables using the industrial flooring from the old factories as the table surface.”

As for Gauthier’s Baileigh BW-200MP welder, he recalls, “I did a little research on this and bought the biggest one that they have with the most versatile function to it because I’m a woodworker, not a welder.” 

Gauthier praises how easy the Baileigh welder is to use: “All I have to do is come up to this machine, plug in the size of the wire that I’m using, the gauge of the wire, the type of gas, and put in my thickness of steel. It already senses the type of power that I have it hooked up to, if it’s 110 or 220, and I hit go. I can lay a nice smooth weld all day long.” 

All in all, the welder has opened doors for Gauthier: “It’s great, and it has totally changed the face of the business, between being able to cut steel and weld it together and then combine the steel with the wood components…. [It’s] just a level that I had never thought that I’d be on.”

More generally, Gauthier appreciates the range of machines he can obtain from Baileigh Industrial. “There are a lot of pros to this company, and it’s not your normal machinery company,” Gauthier says. “They have so many options and so much diversity when it comes to the metal and woodworking machinery. With Baileigh, there’s not much you cannot accomplish in the fabrication industry.”

Gauthier is also impressed by the Baileigh’s reach on social media, which he considers “far more important than any tool or bit of knowledge that anybody could give you. Money can’t even buy this type of connections that Baileigh puts forward, and I think that’s a step above and beyond what a tool manufacturer sales company does for its customers.”

At Baileigh Industrial, we’re proud to boost Gauthier’s work because of its inherent quality as well as its links to local Wisconsin history and traditions of American craftsmanship.

“I’m trying to carry on other people’s legacies by salvaging these materials that have this historical meaning behind them, so that it’s not just about my legacy,” Gauthier explains. “It’s about saving other people’s legacies and having those stories carry on.”

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