Pleasant Hill Shaker Miniature Chest

Reproductions may have room for improvement.
By Kerry Pierce
Pages: 58-63

From the October 2006 issue #157
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Furniture reproductions are never exactly like the originals on which they’re based. In some cases, that’s because the skill and artistry of the reproducer don’t measure up to the skill and artistry of the original craftsman. In other cases, it’s because the reproducer consciously made the decision to vary from the original, substituting, for example, curly maple for cherry or machine-cut dovetails for hand-cut dovetails. In other cases, it’s because the reproducer decided that the original could be improved on in some way.

The last is true of my version of this delightful little blanket chest from the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, which is located outside Harrodsburg, Ky.

The original was appealing in several ways: diminutive size, charming country-style details and solid joinery. But it also had some problems. Instead of the chest bottom’s edges being let into grooves cut on the inside surfaces of the four sides of the case, the bottom of the original was simply nailed inside the case with the result that, when the solid-wood bottom underwent inevitable shrinkage across its width, gaps appeared on either side, visible when you look into the case from above. Also, the material was, I believe, simply too thick for this relatively dainty form. The material of the original was dressed to a chunky 7/8″, a thickness that would have been more appropriate for this chest’s bigger, full-sized brothers.

From the October 2006 issue #157
Buy this issue now