While many El Pasoans embraced newfound passions and hobbies as the COVID-19 pandemic raged around the world and in El Paso, Houston Wilson says he started his local woodworking business, W2 Woodshop, just before the pandemic hit.
“I started this business right before COVID started,” Wilson says. “I became obsessed with the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) machine, and from there, it took off. I had somebody ask me, ‘Hey, do you think you could do a closet?’ ‘Do you think you could do a kitchen?’ I said, ‘Sure, let’s go for it.’ And it took off from there.’”
He takes great pride in his woodworking skills, which really started when he took woodshop in high school. He then dabbled in cabinetry after high school and took on small projects around his home, even honing his skills remodeling a few homes. And then, YouTube hit.
“Everybody gets their degree on YouTube, right?” he says with a grin. ”But you know, that actually helped a lot to refine my skills.”
Most important to Wilson is that he creates high-quality pieces that will last a long time and he says that the El Paso market is ripe for the wood items that he makes.
“I want to be that guy that you can go to to get those custom pieces, those heirloom pieces that are going to last with your home instead of having to replace them in 15 years,” he says.
Wilson says creating wood pieces is a creative outlet for him, and helping people learn about carpentry drives him to continue his work. “The part that’s really satisfying about it is that I can see my designs come to life and then see how they help people,” he says. “And, I love to teach people.”
To help teach people about carpentry, Wilson posts short videos on social media on how to properly make an item and posts moments of silliness in the workshop.
“I love to teach people and the information that I give out, it’s not a big secret,” Wilson says. “You know, anybody can find out how to do these things. [The videos are] a way to connect with people. You know, I didn’t have to be in front of somebody to show them how to do something — I could just show them on my Instagram or my Facebook and it just kind of took off from there. So yeah, I definitely love to educate others on what I love to do.”
In addition to connecting to his followers on social media, he also offers classes on making wooden cutting boards. During the classes, which are a two-part series, participants learn to cut, glue, sand and finish the boards, which are made of hard maple, walnut and cherry. And when they’re all done, they can take their creation home to use for years to come.
Wilson also sells the cutting boards on his Etsy and Instagram stores (website coming soon!).for those who don’t want to make their own boards. And just as with his bigger pieces, he says that the skill and attention to detail that goes into each of his boards means that El Pasoans can purchase top-quality locally made wood products without having to go to a big box store.
“Every board that I make is handmade and I like to cater them to my clients,” says Wilson. “Just the time and attention that I put into them — hand picking the boards, making sure that the seams are always going to be perfect and the warranties that I offer with them — that’s what I think makes my boards stand apart from what you can pick up down at the [chain] store.”