Countdown to Nancy R. Hiller at Lost Art Press

Editor’s Note: In seven days Nancy R. Hiller will read a selection from her fantastic book “Making Things Work” at our Covington, Ky., storefront. After that, there will be the usual post-reading activities: bashing a pinata shaped like a biscuit joiner, playing a game with blindfolds and sinking nails into a tree stump.

Did I mention there will be free drinks?

We still have a few spots left in the free event before the local fire department will get grumpy. If you are interested, sign up here. And feel free to bring a date or a spouse (but not both).

This week, I will feature some of my favorite passages from “Making Things Work,” which is hands-down the funniest, gut-punchingest book I’ve read in years.

In this scene, Nancy is writing a list of her business’s expenses on a series of napkins to explain to a wine-and-cheese poser that her business is legit.


The sideboard I made for the book I’m writing about English Arts and Crafts furniture for Popular Woodworking’s book’s division. Photo by Al Parrish. 2017.

“And yes, my shop is behind my house. But I no longer live in the house. I had to move out during the recession, which absolutely gutted my business. During the worst year, my gross sales (i.e. including materials) were $17,000. I slashed the overhead and everything else to the bone. I relied on my credit card to pay lots of bills, a debt that took the following two years to pay off. I’m incredibly lucky that my boyfriend at the time – now my husband – invited me to move in with him; at least that way I no longer had to pay for all of my living expenses on one decimated income.

“That year from hell, I obviously could not even pay myself minimum wage after covering the overheads. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just go out and get a couple of jobs – you know, bagging groceries, cleaning toilets at the office supply store…. Believe me, I thought about it.”

— Nancy R. Hiller

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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4 Responses to Countdown to Nancy R. Hiller at Lost Art Press

  1. kv41 says:

    I would love to come hear you read from your book, Nancy. How I envy you.


  2. SSteve says:

    Go ahead, rub it in.


  3. I am glad you survived this recession Nancy. I did not survive the one in the early nineties nor my Father and Grandfather that of the 1930’s. What has come from that is a dislike of our present careless economics and a desire to imbue my nephews, nieces, children and grandchildren with an interest in working wood – by hand of course.


  4. bluefairywren says:

    I’d love to be there to hear you speak but it’s a bit far from the mountains of Tasmania. I hope you all have a blast!


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