Let’s Make Finger Sandwiches!


Last month we hosted Nancy Hiller, the author of “Making Things Work,” for an evening of literary readings, children’s games that got the local prostitutes worked up, and a beating of the “biscuit joiner that refused to die.”

Here are the details of the evening:

This was our first real literary event in our 11 years of doing business. I have found that typically, reading step-by-step instructions out loud from a woodworking book will not get women to throw their bras on stage. So why bother with readings?

Nancy’s book, however, is one of those special books that simply begs to be heard from the tongue of the author, like a David Sedaris book.


So we fed the audience beer and wine (no, we didn’t make cucumber finger sandwiches) and Nancy read selections from her book and answered questions from the audience.

If this were a typical literary event, this is when everyone would stumble home to cuddle with Proust, or cover their naked bodies with pages ripped from Jane Austen’s “Mansfield Park.”

Nancy had other ideas.


She concocted a game of “pin the tail on the dove.” Blindfolded participants had to pin a tail on a large-scale drawing of a dove. During the game, some of the local prostitutes watched us play the game through the window like it was surely a scene from “Eyes Wide Shut.” And as I blindfolded yet another middle-aged man and gently guided him to the back of the room by his shoulders, I got a big thumbs-up from the working women outside.

The finale was a pinata of a biscuit joiner that Nancy had made – filled with tiny plastic bottles of booze and little bits of ephemera that related to “Making Things Work.” Destroying the biscuit joiner took about 30 minutes of effort (and switching to a bigger stick).

And yay – this time the cops didn’t come.

Thanks so much to Nancy for being such a good sport and putting on a great evening. I hope we can publish a book some day that is worthy of another reading.

— Christopher Schwarz, editor, Lost Art Press
Personal site: christophermschwarz.com

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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22 Responses to Let’s Make Finger Sandwiches!

  1. Tim says:

    Wonderful book full of f ups and fun. I love her refreshingly honest take on what it’s like making furniture for money. She is a fantastic writer too. Looking forward to the next volume 🙂


  2. Gene Bailey says:

    If you’d let on that the general’s daughters were working your area you’d probably have had more business sooner. Sounds like a great evening. Why don’t you teach one of those gals a longer lasting skill.


    • nrhiller says:

      Do you mean longer lasting in terms of the product? (TMI!!!) Just asking because as professions go, that is referred to as the oldest, as the services with which it is associated never seem to go out of style.


  3. Tom Angle says:

    Was there really prostitutes working the street you live on and staring in the window?


  4. tangle70 says:

    Was there really prostitutes staring in your windows?


  5. hughjengine says:



  6. robimatt says:

    It must have been a refreshing exercise of admiration between two of the worlds oldest professions and as for the over built bizkit jointer it must have had y’all rollin rollin rollin .


  7. Daniel says:

    That is the loveliest podium I’ve ever seen!


  8. Kevin Thomas says:

    I have enjoyed the book immensely. Ms Hiller has the one thing every good woodworking author must have, A great sense of Humor.


  9. John Hippe says:

    I really enjoyed Nancy’s book. The anecdotes were funny and insightful. Appreciated an unvarnished look at woodworking as a profession with all its joys and challenges.


  10. Sounds like a fantastic event. Shouldn’t she be reading it off of that one piece book/bible holder that Roy Underhill talks about in his TV series? I can’t wait to get the book. My birthday was in Aug and my wife got me many Lost Art Press books but not this one. Fingers crossed Santa brings it. It is on the list.


  11. SSteve says:

    You should have invited the ladies in. I’m sure they have some great stories about working wood for a living.

    Sorry. I’ll see myself out.


  12. Jeff Hanna says:

    Why so much hate on biscuit jointers? They’re great as long as you don’t try to use them as joinery. I would never part with mine for the sole purpose of aligning panel glue ups.


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