Cedar Breeze

After filling his house with handmade custom furniture, local resident Steve Coley turns to making bowls and woodturning, which he recently began selling on Etsy.
Coley, who is an engineer by day, said he began doing woodworking around 1990 and has since done a range of projects from building furniture and doing furniture repair to various other construction projects. More recently, he has turned to doing woodturning and bowl making.
“I was introduced to woodworking in college,” he said. “I had one more elective to take and decided I wanted to take a fun elective and chose to take a woodworking class.”
Everything he’s learned since taking that one class, Coley said has been taught with the exception of various woodturning symposiums he has attended to hone those particular skills.
While Coley said he has done a few commissioned projects, many of the things he has made have been for his home or as gifts.
“I started doing woodturning and bowl making because I pretty much built all the furniture in our home and literally ran out of space to keep my passion with wood active,” he said. “I started doing woodturning and bowl making because I could still be creative and get time in the shop, but I was building things that didn’t take up as much space.”
Of the things that Coley has made over the years, he said the most unique has been a violin. He noted that he also makes cell phone cases out of wood.
Next to the violin, Coley said the most unique small piece that he has made is a bowl, where he used some old barn wood from his grandmother’s barn.
“It’s not necessarily unique, but it has a lot of meaning,” he said. “Some of the commissioned work that I’ve done has been where people ask me to take a tree that has been in their family for a long time and make something out of it.”
As a member of Triad Baptist Church, Coley said he was also asked to build the pulpit and communion table for the church, and has built various things for the church’s Vacation Bible School.
When making furniture and various other things, Coley said he has worked with a lot of different types of wood. He noted that his favorite wood to work with is walnut. Another favorite of his is cherry because it has a nice rich color and a lot of character in the grain. Coley mentioned that the easiest wood to work with has been mahogany because it’s very stable, fairly soft, and stains uniformly.
“The most exotic wood that I’ve worked with is a wood called bloodwood, which has a deep rich red color that is very pretty. I used it for some accent color in some bowls I made,” he said.
While he has ordered some specialized wood for specific projects, Coley said most of the wood he uses are from logs that he’s seen while driving down the road.
“I’ll see a person cutting down a tree and ask for some or people who know that I do woodworking who are cutting down a tree will call and ask me if I want some,” he explained.
Normally, Coley said he spends about 10 – 12 hours a week in his workshop but during the pandemics, because he has been working from home, he said he has been able to spend upwards of 15 – 20 hours a week.
Because Coley has been making so many bowls and smaller pieces, he joked that he turned to selling on Etsy because his wife was tired of seeing them stacking up around the house.
When asked if there are any challenges to woodworking, Coley said there’s aren’t really any challenges, but he noted that one has to have an understanding of wood movement, whether they’re building a bowl or a piece of furniture.
“Wood is going to expand and contrast, so you have to take that into consideration so that the joints won’t separate and it will last for a long time,” he said.
Coley said what he enjoys most about woodworking is being able to be artistic.
“It allows me to express some creativity while working with my hands,” he said, adding that his inspiration comes from various sources such as doing research and reading different magazines. “I’m a member of the Piedmont Triad Woodturners Association and we share ideas there as well.”
Another hobby that Coley said he has is beekeeping. He noted that, naturally, he built all the hives for his honeybee colonies.
“I have eight bee colonies and harvest local honey here from the Kernersville area and usually take a few hives to the mountains to harvest sourwood honey as well,” he said. “We are part of the Forsyth County Beekeepers Association and we usually go to the Kernersville Honeybee Festival to sell our honey with other Forsyth County Bee Keepers.”
Coley noted that this weekend, he has plans to go out and retrieve honeybees out of someone’s home.
“I will generally relocate the bees back (to my) home and move them into a colony,” he said. “I’ve already caught five to six swarms this year.”
Coley said the name of his furniture and honey is Cedar Breeze named after the street he lives on, Cedar Breeze Court.
“I live on Cedar Breeze Court in Kernersville and have Cedar Breeze Honey, so I decided to stay with the name for the woodwork,” he said.
To see more of Coley’s work, visit his Etsy page at www.etsy.com/shop/CedarBreezeWoodwork.

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