Author Archives: Nancy Hiller

About Nancy Hiller

Designer-builder of custom furniture and cabinetry, specializing in work for period interiors from the late-19th through mid-20th century.

coping

A Lesson in Coping – How to Join Trim

I’ve long been struck by the aptness of our English word “cope” – “I just can’t cope,” “I’m barely coping” – in light of its meaning in a woodworker’s lexicon. Sure, some of us may use the word when describing our emotional state, but more often we use it to denote a...

Butterfly and Piano Hinges – April 2018 Issue of PWM

The April issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine will have a reference article on eight types of commonly used hinges. Describing the uses and installation of so many varieties takes a lot of space, leaving little room for illustrations of hinges in use. The editors and I agreed that a series of...

Make New Brass Look Old

One of my current jobs involves adding a few cabinets to a 1912 kitchen. The kitchen’s lone original built-in has frame and panel doors hung on traditionally mortised brass butt hinges. The original hinges are unswaged, or what the English shops where I worked early in my career called solid-drawn brass...

Build an Affordable Kitchen Island

Kitchen islands are the contemporary version of the old-fashioned kitchen worktable: a centrally located station at which to chop, slice, mix, roll, and knead. Today’s islands typically provide enclosed storage, as well as work space; some even house sinks, dishwashers, and other appliances. And of course lots of people also use...

A Stroke of Luck While Refinishing a Wooden Counter

One of my current jobs involves adding some cabinets to a kitchen in a 1912 house. Luckily, the kitchen still has its original built-in, which guided the design of the new pieces. “Hang on,” you may be wondering. “What do you mean, ‘its original built-in,’ singular? Surely there would have been...

Perfectly Imperfect Furniture

I’ve long been fascinated by handmade utility furniture: the kind of stuff made to be used, not admired for the craftsmanship invested in its production. In the early 1980s, I bought an old chest of drawers from an antique shop in Reading, a large industrial town southwest of London, where I...

How We Installed a SawStop Sliding Crosscut Fence

I’ve wanted a SawStop sliding crosscut table ever since I tried one out at Woodworking in America 2016. Sliding crosscut tables were a basic fixture in the English shops where I worked; I took them for granted as a safe, precise means of breaking down sheet goods and cutting multiple parts...

How to Cut Dovetails with a Keller Jig

There are numerous jigs for cutting dovetails with a router. My go-to is the Keller pro series model 1601. It’s simple to use, though unlike jigs that cut pins and tails in one fell swoop, it takes two operations (and two different cutters) — one for tails, another for pins. The resulting...

Using Salvaged Wood: Part Two

The beloved backyard tree No store-bought lumber’s story can compete with that of boards from your own backyard. It can be wrenching to fell a beloved tree, but transforming it into a piece of furniture helps dull the pain by giving an old friend new life. Working with lumber from backyard...