Ben's Workshop: Behind The Scenes With Randy Sherrell
Laurel, Mississippi, was once a tiny, unnoticed town on the map. It was a pitstop for many tourists headed to another state, the beach or New Orleans, but Home Town changed everything. While the list of surprises from the show is endless, we didn't realize that the rest of the world would come to appreciate and admire the same things we do — small-town life, genuine community, revitalization, and the lost art of true craftsmanship. In a world of cookie-cutter reproductions and conveyor belt production, people are drawn to custom and intentional craftsmanship more than ever.
Since the show aired, travelers across the country have come to southern Mississippi to gain a closer look into small-town life and the woodworking craft that Ben and his team have brought back to life. They tend to crowd around the window of the Scotsman Woodshop to watch our team film Ben's Workshop. To their surprise, television shows don't magically happen. Instead, a whole crew and team of skilled craftsmen make it all come together.
Ben and his team of woodworkers work together to build one-of-a-kind pieces for each episode, and they supply our stores with handmade products.
One of the wood-shop's most vital team members is Randy Sherrell.
You've likely seen Randy in the Woodshop with Ben while they build custom pieces for homeowners on the show, but most don't know how involved Randy is during the whole process. We thought we'd let Randy share behind the scenes of the fast-paced work seen on Home Town and Ben's Workshop.
"In the beginning, I told Ben that I didn't want to be on TV. Long story short, I've become a character on the show."
"I started in the granite countertop business, but I wanted to get into the woodworking business. It so happens that I knew a pretty decent woodworker," Randy says jokingly.
While he was already skilled in machinery and woodworking, filming Ben's Workshop and Home Town challenged Randy. Each week, Ben and Randy worked alongside each other to meet deadlines and build unique, sentimental pieces for each home.
"I love what we do because it's fun. It's also tough. You get all the information to build this one thing, and you build it. Then you have to learn something completely new for the next episode. There's never a boring moment."
"Each build is different and has its own set of challenges because it's all reclaimed wood. You can't just buy the lumber with a sketch in hand. We have an idea of what we want to build, and we have a certain amount of wood available, so we have to make it happen."
"This past season, we had a few unique builds. Brooke's [Davis-Jefcoat] was fun, because I know her well. I don't always get to talk to the homeowners all that much. I'm just going off stories and meaningful details that Ben tells me about them. I also work with Kendall at Laurel Mercantile, and I know her story. I knew what would mean the most to them and what they think is beautiful."
"I can't pinpoint a favorite build because everything moves so fast. You don't have much time to waller in your work."
"One of the most challenging builds was Jesse's china cabinet. It was cool, but I did a lot of head-scratching since we made it from a lot of milly lumber and old stained glass. I remember thinking I have one chance to make this fit because I'd have to leave town if it breaks. Ben's momma would have probably killed me."
"I think it's cooler to use reclaimed wood because the wood has a story, too. It's easier to buy brand new wood, because it's going to be straighter and prettier. But you can't buy all the nail holes that are in reclaimed wood. You can't fabricate history and scars. Most of the wood came out of Ben's house, and it made it look so much better."
"The best part about working with Ben is that we take traditional and ordinary pieces and make them unique in some way. Each person that gets a piece out of our shop is going to walk away with something that will last and was made with intentionality."