Mid Michigan Wood Works Owner Aaron Johnston demonstrates a how he applies the first of his five coats of varnish. Quinn Kirby
All of Johnston’s work is hand-made – down to the littlest of details. The stars in his wooden American flags are carved with a dremel and handsaw. Quinn Kirby
Mid Michigan Wood Works’ logo incorporates the exact river pattern Johnston placed in his first piece. Quinn Kirby
A river runs through the dining table Johnston is working on. Johnston says he will occasionally invite clients in to provide creative insight to their projects, and the client who commissioned this piece placed the rocks within the river. Quinn Kirby
Johnston’s style varies depending on the client’s needs. While some tables he creates focus on showing natural wood grain, others, like this table in his living room, are painted to provide a more polished feel. Quinn Kirby
Natural wood grain is the focus on this bar table Johnston created early on in his woodworking journey. Quinn Kirby
Johnston sands a work-in-progress. The piece, a dining table, will require multiple passes using three different sandpaper grit sizes to get to the smoothness Johnston desires. Quinn Kirby
Johnston places red varnish on a piece of wood that will eventually become part of one of his wooden American flags. Quinn Kirby
Mid Michigan Wood Works Owner Aaron Johnston is about as involved in his creation process as one can get.
“I try to hunt around and find logs or downed timber in people’s yards and ask people, ‘Hey, can I use your wood?’ and most of the time if you’re willing to clean up their yard or chop down a tree, they’re fine with it,” Johnston says. “It’s much cheaper than slab mills or veneer stores.”
Johnston places red varnish on a piece of wood that will eventually become part of one of his wooden American flags.
Once he’s gathered the foundation of his work, Johnston flattens the wood, cuts it into workable pieces, and begins to shape it into his client’s vision.
While some tables Johnson creates focus on showing natural wood grain, others are painted to provide a more polished feel. It’s all part of his mission to deliver high-quality wood pieces to his clients at a more affordable rate. Johnston said he may be pulling less profit from his work than his competitors, but he also believes he’s more likely to have happy clients return, and that’s what matters.
Johnston began Mid Michigan Wood Works in his garage just over a year ago, after he decided to quit his job as a traveling construction worker in order to be more involved in his children’s lives.
“My two oldest boys, I didn’t get to see them learn to crawl, walk, nothing,” he says. “I wanted to work for myself instead of making someone else a living.”
Now, not only is Johnston able to spend more time with his family, his children also help with the family business by sanding, staining, debarking, or filling imperfections in the wood.
Natural wood grain is the focus on this bar table Johnston created early on in his woodworking journey.Mid Michigan Wood Works products range from dining tables and bed frames, to cornhole sets and American flags. Johnston documents much of the creation process on the business’ Facebook page at Mid-Michigan Wood Works.
“I don’t want the quality of my work to ever be called into question,” Johnston says, explaining why he documents his process in such detail.
Since starting the business, Johnson says he’s had a variety of “small victories.” Included in those was the ability to expand the tools in his collect. He began with a drill, an impact and circular saw, and has since added a planer, tabletop bench sander, and an upgraded table saw to his arsenal of tools.
Additionally, while his business is just over a year old, Johnston is already noticing that it’s picking up momentum and name recognition.
A river runs through the dining table Johnston is working on. Johnston says he will occasionally invite clients in to provide creative insight to their projects, and the client who commissioned this piece placed the rocks within the river.
“More and more lately, when I ask people, ‘Hey, have you heard of Mid Michigan Wood Works?’ it’s about 95% ‘Yes,’” Johnston says. “It’s more local, but I think I’ve only had one person in the last three or four months who said ‘No.’”
Johnston may be reached for inquiries via the Mid-Michigan Wood Works Facebook page or at (989) 763-1218.