Shaker Small Chest

This article is an excerpt from Storage & Shelving: The Shaker Way.
By Kerry Pierce

The Shakers mastered the art of wooden storage systems like nobody else, ever. In large part, this mastery was the inevitable result of a philosophical approach to life that mandated cleanliness and organization. Storage systems that could keep clutter out of sight–and easily accessible – were the subject of a good deal of imaginative Shaker thought. Now, with this helpful guide, you can achieve you own simple and beautiful storage solutions in the Shaker style. This guide provides step-by-step instructions along with helpful hand-drawn illustrations, allowing you to create your own amazing Shaker shelving and furniture.

This small chest represents a variation on the six-board standard in two respects. The grain is aligned vertically in the ends so they can extend below the bottom of the chest to raise it from the ground. The top is a break from tradition with a thin moulding running along all four edges. While many of the pieces appearing in this book require a week or more of time to construct, this tiny chest, with its simple bandsawn profiles and its simple nailed construction could be built in a single day.

1 After flattening and straightening my stock, I ripped the components to width and cut them to length. I then laid out the band-saw cuts on the two end panels. As you see here, I marked the half circle between the feet with a compass.
2 I’m illustrating the amount of surplus length I ensured for the two side panels so I would have material to plane flush in order to achieve a tight fit and to remove the end-grain tear-out left behind by a cross-cut saw. The amount of surplus length is too small to be measured or marked. I simply establish it by sliding my fingers over the intersection of side panel and end.

3 I used a Lie-Nielson low-angle jack plane to level the end grain surplus of the side panels. Notice the clamping arrangement I created to allow me to hold the case while I planed. First, I fixed a narrow board in my end vise. I then clamped the case to that board with a pair of short bar clamps.

4 After creating a radius on a wide board, I ripped the moulding to its final width and nailed it around the lid’s center panel. The lid will likely shrink a bit across its width over time, but because the center panel is relatively narrow, that shrinkage isn’t likely to be enough to cause problems, and, unlike glue, nails give laterally, so a small amount of shrinkage won’t cause the mouldings to pop off.

5 I filled the nail holes with putty and sanded them flush with the surface.

6 After masking around the top (so I could later finish the interior natural), I applied a latex primer, then a latex topcoat.
 
Kerry Pierce is an author for Popular Woodworking books.
 

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