“Nonstop Reader’s” review of English Arts & Crafts Furniture

I stumbled across the following review while searching for the link to my new book at shopwoodworking.com. Sharing here for anyone who may be thinking about purchasing the book.


“English Arts & Crafts Furniture is a powerhouse of a new project book from author Nancy R. Hiller and publisher F+W Media. I’m a collector of woodworking project books. Most project books tend to be straight to the point with pictures, materials lists and some tutorial info. This book is quite different.

The included projects are presented with comprehensive historical background on the creators and designers along with templates and rough isometric sketches. There are good clear tutorial photos showing construction details to fill out the accompanying instructions. Materials lists are complete and detailed. The historical and biographical information is what really sets this book apart. I was surprised to find how much I enjoyed reading it cover to cover and devouring the history and lore behind the pieces. I loved the old photos and seeing the furniture in its natural environment.

This is emphatically not a beginner’s book. There is no hand-holding here. The instructions and tutorials presuppose a good working knowledge of woodworking along with access to a variety of tools. The projects are complex and quite demanding (but oh so gorgeous). The aesthetic of these pieces appeals to me on a visceral level.

The projects are interwoven with background information for each one and they get their own complete chapters in the book. By my rough count, a little less than 50% of the content is actually devoted to the projects; the rest is history, philosophy and biographical information. There are three projects included: Voysey Two Heart Chair, Harris Lebus Sideboard, and the Gimson Hayrake Table. They are all three beautifully made inspiring pieces and worthy of the effort.

One thing which is absolutely vital in design is understanding context and the philosophy behind the things we create. If the only criterion for making something on which to sit were functionality, we could chop a slice out of a tree trunk and call it a day. The furniture we use and love most on a daily basis didn’t just spring fully blown into existence. It evolved and were designed (hopefully) with functionality and some philosophy and design. This book does a stellar job of speaking to that ‘soul’ of creativity and philosophy.

The author’s writing style is somewhat academic but gently humorous and easy to read. The research and the historical notes are uniformly good. I’m very impressed.”–Annie, reviewed at Nonstop Reader

8 responses to ““Nonstop Reader’s” review of English Arts & Crafts Furniture

  1. Nice review, rather blown away by the historical background. I can hardly wait for mine!

  2. I very much enjoyed reading MTW. I am trying to work out how I can buy a hardcopy of your latest book here in the UK. Is there any hope?

    • Thanks so much. The simplest way to buy the new book is, I’m afraid, probably through Amazon. You can try shopwoodworking.com, but I don’t know whether the publisher is shipping it to the UK.

  3. I tried shopwoodworking.com yesterday and it didn’t work. I tried again today and I think it did – fingers crossed!

    • That should work, as it’s the publisher’s own retail site. Please let me know if you don’t receive your copy within a couple of weeks or so. I’m always happy to share this kind of feedback with the publisher so they can be aware of problems.

  4. My copy arrived yesterday. Your bibliography alone is worth the price of the book. I’ve hardly had time to leaf through the rest of it, but it rapidly climbed to the top of the pile where it wrestled a John Ruskin anthology and threw it under the library table.

    • That’s the funniest, most action-packed note I’ve received to date. Thank you. However, a Ruskin anthology sounds pretty compelling. Compared to it, I daresay my book is “lite” entertainment!

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