Behind every piece of woodwork is a talented craftsman who made it come to fruition: someone with skilled hands, a clear mind, and the creativity and determination to create something beautiful from scratch.
In the Scotsman Co. Woodshop, located in our Scotsman General store, there are three talented builders.Two of whom most Home Town viewers know, Ben and Randy, but our team has gained one more skilled craftsman, who helped Ben start his woodshop in Laurel. That man is Stuart Witt.
Stuart Witt is a southern woodworker from Baldwyn, Mississippi. He and his wife, Taylor, and their son, Finnley, moved Laurel to join Ben’s Woodshop team this July. It’s been a full-circle moment for Stuart, as he and Ben have worked on projects together for the show.
“Ben and his family are from Balwyn, and I went to high school with his little brother, Jesse. I was a few years older than Jesse, but Ben and I made that connection. Five years ago, Ben came to my shop in North Mississippi, and we became friends. My family even visited Laurel to help Ben set up machinery in this woodshop. I helped him get started before they filmed the pilot and answered a lot of his questions.”
For nine years, Stuart has been a woodworker, but he’ll tell you that it takes a lot of work and time to become a skilled builder. He remembers his experience as a beginner was challenging, but it was an instant connection.
“Back in 2012, I worked with metal, and I bought a wood lathe as a hobby. I started helping a guy in my hometown with custom furniture. I thought I was going to be refinishing furniture, but it turned into building furniture. I learned a lot from that job about building, and I ventured into making small things, like candlesticks, on my own. Eventually, that turned into custom orders for furniture. It got busy enough that I did a furniture market in Tupelo. I decided to quit my job and start building full-time.”
Over the next year, Stuart would build a family company, where he and his father-in-law created custom furniture. They eventually opened a storefront in Tupelo on Main Street, where his wife ran the business side of things.
“We usually built three dining tables a week, along with some other small builds. My father-in-law and I did every bit of it. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.”
Everything changed when Ben posted on Instagram that the Scotsman Woodshop needed help for the show builds. Stuart was interested in this opportunity, as he had helped with builds for the show in the past.
“I wasn’t necessarily looking to move, but I texted him about the opening, and he blew it off because he had been trying to get my family to move here for five years to no avail. Our family was so settled, I mean, my parents lived 10 miles away, and her [Taylor] parents lived three doors down. A few weeks later, I texted him again and asked if he had filled that position, and he said they hadn’t and asked if I had anybody in mind. And I said, “Well, let’s talk about us moving.”
Shortly after, Stuart and his family went on vacation to the beach, stopped in Laurel, and found a house for good. After three short months and finishing their orders in Baldwyn, the Witt family made their final trek to Laurel to join our community for good.
Stuart’s life hasn’t slowed down since he started at the woodshop. He builds pieces alongside Randy and Ben for the show, but his specialty is designing products and furniture.
“It’s been fun to work alongside Ben in the shop. We have two different tastes, and I build huge, ornate pieces, and he leans more into traditional woodwork. I’ve had to teach myself how to make things in different ways.“
Stuart plans to build specialty pieces for the store and limited-edition works that you’ll see soon enough.
We’re so excited to have Stuart a part of the Woodshop team and his family in our community. Be sure to give him a warm welcome to Laurel when you see him in the Scotsman General store!