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A Few Wood Men (and Women): 4 Local Woodworkers

Woodworking is the process of building useful or decorative objects out of wood. The craft has been around just as long as mankind has, and with time, has advanced with new technology and state-of-the-art projects. Here we profile four local woodworkers whose skills are cutting-edge.

Mariah Staley and Rene Barlow
Two Rustic Gals, Rocklin

How did you get into woodworking? When we lived together in an apartment we had to have our washer/dryer replaced, and the new appliance would require loosing the bi-fold door leaving the laundry closet and storage exposed. We both have experience working visuals for high-end stores like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware so for us this was a huge eye sore. We discussed and decided a barn door would fit in the space perfectly, so we bought some weather-aged wood and built our first barn door. That door ended up getting more attention than we did from our guests! We eventually moved and decided to list the door on Craigslist. Not only did we get a ton of inquiries on it but we also received a request from someone (who is now one of our best friends) to purchase the door along with two more. We started building from there and literally have just kept on building ever since.

Mariah Staley. Two Rustic Gals Woodworking


Rene Barlow. Two Rustic Gals Woodworking


How did you develop your skills? We are still developing our skills and, to be completely honest, it’s very much trial and error while we learn hands-on in the moment. We both love working with our hands and can appreciate the results despite the sawdust, sweat, and splinters that come with. We have also learned to research and be patient with the process.

Two Rustic Gals woodworking


What are some of your most popular designs? Our signature barn doors but foremost the giant yard games. We love game nights and spending time with family so creating something in our style that offered a unique look that represented us was a huge accomplishment for us. We stumbled through it at first as with any new designs, but the bean bag toss, giant stacking blocks in our custom rolling case, and our spin on a giant Connect Four are our top requests year around.

Two Rustic Gals outdoors game set


Favorite project? We got the opportunity to build a family dining table for a friend that she plans to make a family heirloom. The table had its challenges in design—we started over few times and the materials seemed to be working against us—but we knew how much this piece meant, so we scratched the whole thing one day and started fresh and it just all came together perfectly. At the end of the day we were extremely happy not only with the completed piece but knowing where it was going and the generations it would host.

Two Rustic Gals coffee table


What advice would you give to someone just starting out? When you hit a wall, stop, take a breath, walk away, ask for advice and, if needed, start over. If you’re fighting it, it’s not going to be worth the struggle. Sometimes, it needs that second set of eyes and advice to give you a different perspective so don’t be afraid to start over and to ask for help.

Where can people find you? You can see most of our work on our Instagram. @tworusticgals

Justin Ayson
Ayson Woodworking, Folsom

How did you get into woodworking? I started woodworking out of practicality. I needed a workbench in the garage, a step stool in the kitchen, and other random things around the house. I was curious if I could build them myself rather than buy from the store. I quickly realized not only that I could, but that I enjoyed it, so I just kept going.

Justin Ayson at Ayson Woodworking


How did you develop your skills? A lot of practice, and even more patience. I bought woodworking magazines, watched other pros on YouTube, and asked a lot of questions at the wood supply stores. Ultimately, I learned best through a ton of trial and error (and continue to do so).

Ayson Woodworking, custom shelf


What are some of your most popular designs? My custom cutting boards with juice grooves tend to sell best.

Favorite project? A hardwood mallet. It’s something I made for myself that I now use to build pieces for clients (and it’s made from some of my favorite hardwoods: walnut and purple heart).

Ayson Woodworking cutting boards


What advice would you give to someone just starting out? There is an overwhelming amount of equipment available for woodworking—don’t be discouraged if you don’t have it all from the start. Many projects can be built with basic tools. Buy what you need to complete your first project and build up from there.


Where can people find you? The best way to order a piece or connect with me is through my website, @aysonwoodworks

Mike Coffey  

Coffey Custom Builds, El Dorado

How did you get into woodworking? When my son was a year old, I found myself with much more time on my hands. The first year after he was born was all-hands-on-deck and there wasn’t much time for anything other than being a dad and husband. But once things started to level out I had more time and I don’t really like sitting around so I started looking for activities to fill my time. I started doing small projects around the house. I enjoyed them plenty, but I found myself gravitating towards projects that involved wood. Specifically, home goods and furniture pieces. It started taking over my life. Every free moment I had was dedicated to learning new techniques and getting better at the craft. Eventually, I started being able to sell things to people and that become enough to supplant my day job.

Mike Coffey at Coffey Custom Builds


How did you develop your skills? When I wasn’t doing woodworking, I was watching YouTube videos, in woodworking forums, or reading about woodworking. I wanted to learn as much as I could as fast as I could. I was voracious. All I wanted to do was get better and learn new things. I had never had an activity in my life that I loved as much as woodworking.

Coffey Custom Builds "LOVE" sign


What are some of your most popular designs? I have a passion for salvaged wood furniture. That’s wood that comes down naturally or has to come down in urban areas due to development or safety concerns. I hate seeing trees go to the land fill or being burned. Taking that wood and turning it into a piece of furniture that lives on in someone’s home or family is what it’s all about for me. I think my most popular pieces are my large live edge slab tables. Tables are sort of my specialty!

Coffey Custom Builds entertainment system


Favorite project?  My favorite project currently is the mid-century modern media console I just finished. It’s a design I love that’s made of salvaged wood and has absolutely completed the look of our living room.

Coffey Custom Builds park bench


What advice would you give to someone just starting out?  If you want to do this as a business, learn how to market. Network with people as much as you can. If there is an opportunity to get your name out there, take it. Every time. No one will find you if you’re hard to find. You need to put yourself and your craft out there in front of people as much as you can. If you are doing it as a hobby, make what you want to make. Don’t feel pressured to make something just because you saw someone else do it. Make the things that you are drawn to and know will be fulfilling.

Coffey Custom Builds outdoor table


Where can people find you? You can find my pieces in many businesses and homes in the Sacramento and El Dorado County area as well as the outlying areas. The best place to see them is on my Instagram, YouTube, and my website,

by Emily Peter-Corey
Photos courtesy of their respective companies or organizations.