I was so honored to be asked to review Ana White’s new book The Handbuilt Home. I have made no secret of the fact that I think Ana White is phenomenal in my past posts. Read on to find out more about her first book!
If you want to build your own furniture but you are frustrated with the lack of resources available to learn how, you are waiting for Ana White. If you want to build furniture that you covet in the stores, but can’t stomach shelling out the cash for it, you are waiting for Ana White. If you’ve always had a feeling you could do it yourself, but got stumped when the books for beginners called for dadoes, rabbets, and biscuits, you are waiting for Ana White. Lucky for you, Ana White has written a beautiful book called The Handbuilt Home and she’s going to help you create furniture that will make you stand back and say, “I can’t believe I made that!” I know she can do it for you–she’s already done that for me.
The book starts off with a “Getting Started” section and herein lies the first of Ana’s strengths. She builds furniture with a minimum of tools, which is less intimidating for the beginner–and cheaper. She tells you what you absolutely need and what is just nice to have. Nothing more, nothing less. She began with the basics and bought more of the “nice to have” as she went along. You can too.
Following her tool recommendations is a section on materials where she discusses what beginners need to know about wood and boards, and working with sheet goods such as plywood and mdf. Then she moves on to fasteners–giving the reader recommendations of what to keep on hand for nails and screws as well as information about both. She includes an overview of finishing supplies, which can make or break your project, so they are very important. To finish off the section she talks about hardware supplies such as drawer glides, wheels, and knobs and handles, that give the finishing touch to a project.
Chapter 2 covers Basic Techniques, which include understanding the plans, tips for cutting your boards and sheet goods, and advice on angled and curved cuts. She then covers the building process, from marking joints to checking for square. Finally she touches on finishing your project by filling in the holes, sanding, and then applying a paint or stain. She never talks above the beginner’s head so you won’t get lost in here, and you’ll be ready to get started when you are inspired by the rest of the book!
Next is the eye candy. I love every single project in this book. Every. One. Ana gives you very specific and easy to follow directions for every project for all areas of your home: entryway, family room, dining room, kitchen & bath, office & craft room, bedroom, children’s room, and outdoor furnishings. No complicated, “exploded view” diagrams that seem so popular in woodworking magazines and books–each step has an accompanying diagram so you can visually see what is happening. The Lego Coffee Table might be getting added to my to-do list because we are in need of a table in our front room…and I covet plan #26 the Armoire. I don’t have a spot for it, but I might have to build it anyway.
The projects are marked with icons that identify them as starter, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. She also gives approximate time frames for completion, and cost: less than $50, less than $100, and more than $100.
Some of the projects were built by people other than Ana, which is a nice chance to get to know some other talented bloggers who are building out there. I recommend checking out their blogs as well as visiting Ana-White.com to learn even more.
If you go to Ana’s book on Amazon, you’ll see one person gave the book a 3 star review, based on the fact that it was geared so heavily on beginner projects. I’m puzzled by this, because that is where Ana was aiming with this book. I personally don’t have a problem with beautiful furniture that is more simple in its assembly and I am no longer a beginner. At the same time, Ana responds to the review by saying she hopes to produce another book aimed to the more experienced woodworker. If her second book is anything like her first, it will be wonderful!
I was standing in my daughter’s room tonight, waiting to tuck her in and looking around at the changes that have happened in there–her bed, her built-in cabinets, her nightstand, her closet organizer–and it hit me that I’m the one who built her room. I made it all! If you check out the brag post area of Ana’s site, you’ll see many others who are thinking the same thing: “I can’t believe I made that!”. We were all waiting for Ana White and we’re so glad we found her. You will be too–take a look at The Handbuilt Home and start on your own DIY journey with Ana as your guide.