Making Things Work: Tales From a Cabinetmaker's Life

Lost Art Press Making Things Work: Tales From a Cabinetmaker's Life

Item: NH-MTW

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By Nancy R. Hiller

Furniture making, once a basic way to earn a living through an arrangement between makers and clients, has been discovered, like a rosy-cheeked girl plucked from a dairy farm in Devon and made over into a London model

For many of us, making furniture and cabinetry is still a way to earn a living, however marginal. We may do what we love every day, to paraphrase the marketing pitch of a well-known American school, but as with most long-term love, ours deepens from the passion of new romance to the mature familiarity of marriage: sometimes tedious, occasionally exasperating, as much taskmaster as muse. Passion, after all, is equally about what we bear as what we embrace.

The day-to-day realities of those who make things for a living get scant attention compared to the potential satisfactions of craft as avocation. But they are every bit as important—especially for those actively considering exchanging the lecture hall, office, or surgery for a workbench and set of woodworking tools.

Honest, occasionally ribald, and wryly humorous throughout, this collection of tales drawn from over 30 experiences in workshops in England and the United States is as thought provoking as it is entertaining. Hiller stumbles into furniture making after dropping out of Cambridge University, finds employment in one, then another English workshop, grapples with monotony, sexism, and self-doubt, attempts escape, and eventually makes peace with her vocation.

Nancy R. Hiller is a cabinetmaker who specialises in period furniture and built-ins for late-19th and early-20th century homes. She trained through the City & Guilds of London system and has worked in several shops in England and the United States over the past 35 years. Her work has been featured in Fine Woodworking, Popular Woodworking, Old-House Journal, American Bungalow, and other periodicals. She operates NR Hiller Design, Inc., a custom furniture and cabinetmaking business, in Bloomington Indiana and accepts commissions from clients across the United States.

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