It’s almost unheard of to take a 75mm artillery shell and turn it into a custom engraved beer mug, but one veteran made it a reality.
With the slogan of “You Imagine It, We Make It” disabled Army veteran William B. Noyer is taking ideas and turning them into custom-made relics.
Noyer, owner and operator of B&K Pens and Crafts and Custom Laser Engraving, works out of his 1,152-square- foot garage at his home in Killeen.
Noyer said he chooses to work from home to save on overhead and be Mr. Mom to the last four of his seven children who are still living at home.
Before opening his full-time business in 2014, Noyer was a Blackhawk maintenance test pilot. After he retired from active duty in 2014, Noyer wanted to continue his career in the aviation industry. However, things didn’t go as planned.
“I was going to fly for a contractor when I retired, but found out during my VA physical that I had kidney stones,” Noyer said. “That kept me from flying for about a year after retiring, so my wife suggested I just do my business full time.”
Noyer, who served 29 years in the Army, has always had a passion for woodworking and pursued his passion while he was on active duty.
“I got started somewhat seriously while I was in my last four years in the Army while working for the 166th Aviation Brigade of First Army, Division West out of Fort Hood,’” Noyer said. “I made most of the going-away gifts for the people going to new duty stations.”
One of Mayer’s favorite memories was making a custom-made plaque for an officer in the Army.
“There was a certain company commander of a reserve unit on post that had a great affinity for telling the troops in his unit that he was signed for everything and therefore financially responsible for every piece of equipment — he had a bad habit of constantly fussing at his aviators every time they brought back an aircraft with so much as a scratch in the paint,” Noyer said. “The warrant officers would say, ‘Don’t worry sir, that (stuff) will buff out.’”
While training at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin, Calif., the commander did a pinnacle landing and crushed the lower anti-collision light on the Blackhawk helicopter he was flying. The commander’s crew collected and saved the pieces of the lower anti-collision light.
When it came time for the commander’s change of command, the pieces of the light were given to Noyer to be used as a going-away gift.
“I put the light back together using, glue, baling wire and — of course — good ’ol Army duct tape,” Noyer said. “Then I mounted it on a plaque that was in the shape of their unit insignia with the Latin saying at the bottom of the insignia replaced with the statement, ‘That (stuff) will buff out.’ I also attached a battery pack to the back and an LED that flashed inside. I love doing that kind of creative stuff knowing that people will have these gifts for life and that are so many memories attached to them.”
Making memorabilia in the Army wasn’t the first time Noyer used his hands to create something of value.
“We lived on five acres of land in California,” Noyer said. “My dad and I — with help from my grandfather — spent four years building our family home.”
Noyer, who is a partially self-taught craftsman, makes handmade military plaques and awards, custom gifts, wedding gifts, custom metal work, pretty much anything that needs to be engraved, and — of course — when in doubt, “You Imagine It, We Make It.”
“I have been woodworking most of my life and it’s in the DNA,” Noyer said. “My grandfather on my mom’s side was a retired cabinet maker and my dad could fix anything growing up. However, the majority of the business, technical and mechanical, was self-taught by reading and watching YouTube videos.”
Noyer’s originality and attention to detail resonated with the local military community.
“I followed his work on Facebook for about a year and based off the things I saw he could create, I asked him to make something for one person who was transferring to another duty station and another who was retiring,” said Samuel Parker, a noncommissioned officer on Fort Hood. “ One of the plaques he made had a saber on it and could also mount an actual saber.”
Making items customers appreciate fuels Noyer’s desire to continue to create.
“You don’t realize how much you appreciate your job until hearing positive feedback from the customers,” Noyer said. “I like giving back to the community and want to support organizations who give back.”
Noyer works closely with the police department and Bikers Against Child Abuse International, Inc. to create items that each organization can use.
“I engrave coins for BACA,” Noyer said. “The children are given a biker name from BACA and I engrave that name on the coin. When children face their abusers in court, they are given that coin to hold on to.”
Being a craftsman is also therapeutic for the disabled veteran.
“Woodworking something, that is my passion,” Noyer said. “It’s relaxing to be creative and allows me to sit to do artwork and stand when I am working in the shop — this helps my back and knees to be able to go back and forth.”
Parker appreciates the fact Noyer is a veteran.
“I am enlisted — a noncommissioned officer — and when I found out Noyer was a retired warrant officer, that resonated with me,” Parker said. “Just based on talking with him and seeing his work, I can tell he is passionate about what he does.”
Noyer is currently conceptualizing ideas for new types of woodworking projects.
“When he creates something, he brings ideas into reality,” Parker said.
B&K Pens and Crafts and Custom Laser Engraving is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, but customers are encouraged to call 254-239-1535 to set up a time to stop by. Noyer can also be reached at email@example.com.
More information, including photos of products, can be found on the B&K Pens and Crafts Facebook and Instagram pages or on the B&K Pens and Crafts at www.bnkpensandcrafts.com.
Orders can also be shipped.