UNION TOWNSHIP, Ohio — When the pandemic hit in March 2020, an abundance of free time became available.
13-year-old Nate Stoffer took advantage of the opportunity.
For the past year, the middle schooler honed his skills and learned how to build his own rustic log furniture including coat racks, coffee tables, lamps, end tables, bed frames and cutting boards.
“Whenever I'm working here, time flies cause I'm having fun,” he said.
“He took a situation which most kids would hate, which is stuck at home and can’t go anywhere, and he’s just blossomed,” his mother, Sarah Stoffer, said.
Both Nate’s parents work as school teachers and found their son learning on his own throughout the pandemic, even after finishing virtual learning.
“Now he’s learned he can figure it out,” Sarah Stoffer added. “He will find ways, watch YouTube videos, read books, articles. He gets woodworking magazines now. He can figure it out on his own which is pretty cool.”
As the pandemic progressed, so did Nate’s abilities, with new projects such as complicated cutting boards.
“They really test my patience,” he said. “It's got somewhere between 1,000-1,100 pieces. I never counted the exact number.”
Before long, Nate began selling his work online through his Etsy store NCS Cabin Creations.
“I think I've sold to 12 or 13 different states,” he said.
“We joke that some days he makes more money than me,” his mother added.
His work is also up for sale inside Knotty by Nature, located at 86 West Main St. in downtown Carrollton.
“He really has a god given talent, there’s no doubt about it,” owner Rebecca Mikesell said. “It’s really amazing what he’s done.”
Mikesell vividly remembers Nate walking in one day with his work, asking if it was possible to sell some of it.
“They started showing me pictures of what Nate built and I was blown away,” Mikesell said. “Mortise and tenon work is rather difficult to do. The way those logs are shaped has to fit tightly into the holes. It’s almost like a puzzle piece when all those pieces are put together. Nate is a natural, there’s no doubt about that.”
So where does the inspiration for a teenager to build log furniture come from?
“When school shut down, he was like, ‘I have more time to finish my cabin,’ so that’s what he did,” Sarah Stoffer said.
Before the pandemic, Stoffer began building his own one-room log cabin, overlooking a nearby creek on his grandparents’ property.
“I built it from the ground up like a pioneer would,” he said.
When he finished the cabin, he moved onto furnishing it, sparking a whole new passion.
Nate hopes to attend craft shows this summer so he can showcase his work to others and continue to learn.