When I first became interested in building furniture, I searched through books and antiques-based newspapers to find images and descriptions of Shaker furniture. If you asked me to go into the shop to build whatever I wanted, I would immediately begin on something, anything, Shaker – the first two major pieces I built were a pair of shaker cupboards originally built in a New York Shaker community. For me, furniture with straight lines and understated elegance – which is what Shaker design and craftsmanship is all about – is the perfect first step into furnituremaking.
As it turns out I’m not alone in my way of thinking. Many woodworkers jump into furniture construction through the Shaker furniture porthole. Not only are the designs pleasing to the eye, the construction methods – especially joinery – are time-honored techniques that appear in pieces built by the Shakers as well as other top-notch craftsmen. If you learn techniques or methods of work as you build the furniture shown in our new Shaker furniture book, you’ll use those techniques and methods over and over throughout your woodworking life.
What makes this particular book a great addition to your collection of Shaker projects is the wide range of pieces available. You’ll find projects to fit in many areas of your home, including projects for the beginning woodworker as well as those that challenge woodworkers with years of experience. As a result, as you build projects from this book, your growth as a woodworker grows, too.
Included within these pages are a number of projects that are recognized as quintessential Shaker furniture designs. In fact, a few of the projects I’ve built many times. The Press Cupboard found in chapter 15 (and pictured above) is a project that I retired during my woodworking days. I’ve built so many of those cupboards I could mill the lumber and cut the parts without the aid of a cut sheet. That was the point when I reached the decision to turn away orders. That piece alone, in my opinion, is worth your investment in this book.
Also inside you’ll find other iconic Shaker furniture designs, such as the candlestand, drop-leaf table and blanket chest. There are tall clocks, wall clocks and chairs, both straight and of the rocking variety. There’s even a woodbox and stepstool. And if you need to start at the beginning, we’ve included a Shaker workbench for your shop.
If you have any interest in Shaker furniture from an educational perspective (learning construction techniques), or actually building projects for yourself or others, this book is invaluable.
–Glen D. Huey