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.

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...

Salvaged Lumber: Part One

People use the term salvaged to describe a variety of lumber. Salvaged lumber can be cut out of beams, joists, or other parts of buildings, whether remodeled or demolished. It can come from cabinets, furniture, packing crates, or other objects no longer in use. It can come from a tree felled...

How to Cut a Rock-Solid T-Bridle Joint

One of the first joints I learned to cut during my City & Guilds of London training was the T-bridle, which we used for the leg-to-rail connection on a modern end table, one of the projects that made up the curriculum. Like other variants of the bridle joint, this one is often...

Further Insights into Harris Lebus Sideboard

The November 2017 issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine features a reproduction of a sideboard made in 1903 by the English furniture manufacturing company Harris Lebus. I built this sideboard based on drawings I’d made in 2007 from measurements of an original owned by some acquaintances. Having had a chance to visit...

Live-Edge Keyboard Tray

I just finished a desk commissioned by some clients who wanted the piece to be made from a walnut log they’d had lying around a few years – in other words, longer than ideal. They had it sawn and kiln-dried this summer and brought the boards out to my shop in...