By Angelina Martin
John Johnson showed his twin sons Michael and Mark Johnson countless woodworking projects over the years, never considering that one day the family would turn the talent into a business. But, when Michael and Mark’s grandfather gifted the pair with his woodworking tools several months ago, the twins and their father turned their renewed passion for woodwork into Johnson Brothers Woodshop Designs, handcrafting unique cutting boards, serving trays and more for the Turlock community.
“We try to keep everything as handmade as possible,” said Michael. “We have machinery, but keeping the business between just us three, we’re able to communicate with each other and offer a more personal experience with our products.”
From the comfort of their shop, located in the garage of their Turlock home, the Johnson brothers and their father create artisan cutting boards and wine displays for customers who love to throw parties, and with names like “The El Cap” and “The Royal Robbins,” the boards serve as an elegant way for entertainers to impress their guests. To create the pieces, they use quality woods like walnut, cherry and maple, and sometimes they are invited out to local orchards to gather wood straight from the source. On occasion, they’ll even use rare, exotic woods, like Purple Heart, which turned out to be the perfect wood to accent a recent custom serving board the trio created for a retired Army Veteran who was the recipient of the medal of the same name.
“We’ll find out what specific color the customer has in mind, then we give our own opinions on what they might like better or what may be more cost efficient,” said Mark. Often, it is recommended to clients who may like the look of a more expensive, darker wood to stain a cheaper type of wood in order to achieve the same effect.
Engraved, wooden signs, wine bottle holders and even pencil holders are just a few of the other products they offer, and the three Johnsons each deliver a skill set that allows them to create each piece with careful precision, said Michael.
“Being close with each other…it’s easy for us to communicate our ideas, and especially having the whole twin telepathy thing between my brother and I, it makes it easier for me to say an idea and for him to sketch it,” he said.
Johnson Brothers also provides custom woodwork. Whether a customer wants a cutting board for their own home or a unique coffee table to give as a wedding gift, the woodworkers sit down with each customer to figure out the perfect design.
“If you’ve seen an idea on Pinterest or have an idea and don’t know where you can get it done, we’ll sit with you and help create whatever vision you have,” said Michael. “We like to spend more time with our customers instead of just offering a set group of products.”
He added that he and his family members can create any custom piece, as long as it’s made of wood. Custom orders can be made via email, at [email protected].
While the business began as simply an online endeavor, with many orders coming through the business’ social media pages and its website, Johnson Brothers recently began offering their products at downtown Turlock’s Central Park Evening Market, where the family has enjoyed getting to know the community.
“The reason why we wanted to get involved with the market was to feel like part of the community,” said Michael. “Seeing the same people each week and getting people to come and shop downtown is awesome.”
Their presence at the market and online (www.johnsonbrotherswoodshop.com) has allowed them to collaborate with other local businesses, creating custom soap dishes for a fellow vendor and customizing a serving board for local business Tia Fina’s Salsa, who used the woodworkers’ design to display his product at the recent Fresno Food Expo.
“We love being able to go into a place and say, ‘Hey, we made that,’” said Michael.
While their woodshop has definitely brought Michael, Mark and John closer to the community and its local businesses, time spent together in the garage may be what they love most about their job.
“We always have really busy schedules and just getting in here, with our dad too, it’s nice that we get to spend a little time together,” said Mark. “We’ll talk about our day, have a beer and work in here at the same time.”
Michael added that when their grandfather, the man who sparked their interest in woodworking, is able to make it into the shop, everything comes full circle.
“There have been times we’ve been able to have him hang out in the garage with us, and hearing the comments from him about how impressed he is and how much he likes the work is the most meaningful part of it all,” he said.
“The shop brings everyone together,” said Mark.