Joe has been a woodworker most of his life, at first as an amateur, then as a "serious" amateur and, since 1999, as a full-time career.
His formal education was in city planning (Rutgers, 1964) and architecture (masters degree, Virginia Tech, 1971). He was always interested in woodworking, and learned the basics at an early age through his father, an engineer and amateur woodworker who amassed the fourth largest collection of wood in the world at the time-samples of some 3,500 species.
As an adult, Joe continued learning the craft through extensive reading, experimentation and networking. By learning on his own and utilizing his broad training in design, Stearns has kept more open parameters and has achieved more original works than had he been a protégé of some established master.
He characterizes his designs as organic curvilinear forms of elegant simplicity. He has been featured in several major magazines including Fine Woodworking, Woodwork, Style and Art Showcase, and has earned numerous awards and testimonials.