Sterling Woodworking is Michael Sterling

Displayed in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian’s Renwick Gallery

Michael Sterling has been making custom, studio furniture for 30 years. He has shown in numerous galleries and shows, calls himself “obsessed” with one-of-a-kind furniture. Sometimes art-furniture, but always practical, ergonomic, and well-made. His pieces can be found in the homes of many private collectors, but he is probably most proud of his pieces in the Oakland Museum and Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian.

One distinguishing characteristic about the new generation furniture makers is their use of exotic hardwoods. Sterling is no exception. In fact, he goes so far as to actually cut and mill the trees from which most of his work is made. This is a concept inspired by Ernest Joyce and the poetic books of James Krenov. Additionally, Krenov's inspirational writings keyed Sterling's use of bookmatching and custom-designed handles and pulls.

Sterling lives in Chico, California. Coincidentally, there are these magnificent Claro Walnut trees there. So for over 20 years he has been harvesting these trees and specializing in that lumber – world renowned for its beauty.

Glance through the gallery to see his use of ebony, rosewood, figured maples and cherry, crotch woods, feathers, and the like. Sometimes solid, sometimes veneer, whichever is appropriate.

Among the most common pieces he is asked to create: dining tables, entryways, executive desks, credenzas, conference tables, entry tables and accent pieces, coffee tables and curio cabinets, chairs, beds……Some pieces are limited-production, others are one-of-a-kind.

Other features:

Though small-scale, and mostly a one-man operation, Michael Sterling has networked for the last 30 years; and he has accessible to him turners, carvers, finishers, and upholsterers who are also masters.




Apr 2004
Right at Home, Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian
Sep 1998
Wood Art Collectors’ Conference, San Francisco, CA
Jan 1997
California Design, San Francisco, CA
Aug 1996
CCCA Master/Apprentice Annual
Nov 1995
Chico Open Studio Tour
Nov 1994
Chico Open Studio Tour
Aug 1994
California Design ‘94
Nov 1993
Chico Open Studios Tour
Nov 1992
Chico Open Studios Tour
Jan 1992
California Design, San Francisco, CA
Sep 1990
Woodwise, Juniper Gallery
Aug 1990
Benchmark, National Invitational, Gallery Fair
May 1990
Chico’s Walnut, Chico Museum
Nov 1989
Chico Works in Wood
Aug 1985
Western States Invitational, Gallery Fair
May 1983
Butte County Fair
May 1983
Working with Wood, Fort Mason, CA
May 1982
Mendocino Woodworkers Invitational
Aug 1981
Pacific States Crafts Fair
Feb 1980
Forestry Center, Portland, OR
Oct 1979
Timberline Lodge Invitational