The holiday season is the most magical time in Laurel, and it's no secret that it's a particular woodworker's favorite time of year.
Ben Napier is bringing Christmas cheer to the Scotsman Co. General store and Woodshop with some help from Deadliest Catch stars, Co-captains Sig and Mandy Hansen. While this father and daughter duo are known for their dangerous careers in commercial fishing, most people don't know that they have a very long and rich Nordic family heritage and are steeped in holiday tradition.
In the HomeTown: Ben's Holiday Workshop special, Ben, Sig, and Mandy are on a mission to create a traditional fireplace mantle in the Scotsman General Store and begin a new Christmas Toy Drive tradition for the Laurel community.
Ben shared about the Hansens, "They [Sig and Mandy] fish for crab in the Bering Sea between Russia and Alaska in the wintertime. They face giant waves and freezing temperatures while working with heavy machinery. It's one of the most dangerous jobs in the world. They're trying to get their hands dirty with some wood slabs rather than king crabs today!"
Ben taught Sig and Mandy about fine woodworking and joinery using dowels and easy-pocket holes that keep pieces together. They use that approach when creating the Norweigian inspired mantle for the Scotsman General Store.
Ben explains, "Timber framing is a way of building that requires little to no hardware. Framing a house without nails is a way of cutting opposing reliefs and then putting them together with a dowel. It's the way that Notre Dame was built and is being rebuilt."
While Ben's objective in the Woodshop is to build beautiful furniture, his passion is to create meaningful relationships and share his love of woodworking with others to learn more about others.
Sig shared how he started working in the family business at 12.
"It was going to happen for me whether I liked it or not. It was just a family business. However, I was 12 years old. Summer vacation was go-to-work-time for me. She's [Mandy] same way; by the time she was 13, she was doing salmon tendering on Northwestern."
Though commercial opilio crab fishing is considered the most dangerous profession globally, the Hansens continue the family tradition and expect to pass down the job for future generations. A timely conversation as Mandy was pregnant during this filming of this episode!
Sig continues, "When you talk about a family business, we're all in, and that's what makes it scary. Not only is it a dangerous industry, when you've got that much family on one little boat, you've also really got to be careful. If something happens to that boat and it goes down, the whole family is gone. So we have a lot to protect."
Mandy shares that the reward of crab fishing outweighs the risk. "I've always looked up to the guys. They go out to sea, come home, and supply their families, and I wanted to do the same.
She says It's thrilling, too. You're fighting against the tide and the seas, and when you go fishing, it's a big reward to see what you feel about the ocean. You get to see what you're working for as it comes over."
Once the mantle is complete, the Hansens create classic wooden tops to give to each child who participates in the Scotsman Co. Toy Drive. The team celebrates by mounting the extremely heavy mantle and eating traditional Norwegian porridge and a surprise almond in the mix. Think Mardi Gras King Cake and the baby in the middle!
At the end of the episode, children arrive to deliver their toys and scatter around the General store to play with their new wooden tops passed down from generation to generation.
It was a joyful experience for the Hansens, and Mandy shared, "The main part about Christmas for us is that we're not normally together throughout the year. Unless we're fishing, the country shuts down for a whole month, like everything's closed for a month. That's the time to spend with your friends and family and enjoy time together."
It sounds like something we could get behind here in Laurel, right? We're so grateful to have met Captain Sig and Captain Mandy Hansen and celebrate new and old traditions with them.
Be sure to stop by the Scotsman General Store and Woodshop to enjoy the Norwegian-inspired fireplace. Catch their new episode on HGTV or Discovery+ today!