I Can Do That: A Shapely Shaker Shelf

In the 1989 edition of the Willis Henry Shaker auction of ephemera, woodenware and furniture, this Canterbury, N.H., shelf immediately caught my eye. I’ve incorporated a few size and construction variations from the antique in my version, but this design is true to the spirit of the original.

You’ll find a use for those scraps from earlier projects if you decide to paint this piece. Mixed woods are often found in antique furniture. Don’t be afraid to try it (if you don’t have enough scraps, head to the home center). Building the drawer for this shelf is a new technique for the “I Can Do That” column. Don’t freak on me! It appears more complex than it is and your list of “got-to-do” projects will grow once this skill is in your arsenal.

 

Marking the cut line for the second cut on moulding requires an exact layout. A ruler or straightedge held tight to the sides will reveal the location for the cut.

Marking the cut line for the second cut on moulding requires an exact layout. A ruler or straightedge held tight to the sides will reveal the location for the cut.

Curvy Bottoms Add Appeal
Each side of the shelf has three curves or arc cuts. Each arc evolves from the previous arc, starting with the smallest radius at the lower, rear corner of each side.

Crosscut the sides to length and draw the pattern on the pieces. Cut the profile with the jigsaw then clean up any rough edges with a rasp and sandpaper.

Next, square one end of the stock and crosscut the five rails that fit between the sides. Position and clamp a stop block at the miter saw to cut each piece to the same length. Then pull out the pocket-screw jig. You have holes to drill.

Building the drawer with pocket screws is a simple task. But, it is necessary to achieve a flush fit between the front and sides. The level joint makes the best connection when attaching the drawer face with glue.

Building the drawer with pocket screws is a simple task. But, it is necessary to achieve a flush fit between the front and sides. The level joint makes the best connection when attaching the drawer face with glue.

Each rail requires two pocket-screw holes per end. Also, the top face rail needs three extra holes, spaced evenly and along the grain, to attach the top. The drawer rail will need one hole that is centered, also along the grain, to hold the drawer rail flush with the lower face rail. Also, drill a hole in the center of the each side. These will be used to attach the top.

Step to Successful Assembly
The steps to assemble the case need to be completed in a specific order to allow you access to the pocket-screw holes. First, attach the top face rail and lower face rail flush with the front edge of the sides. Next, install the top nailing rail 3/4″ in from the back edge of the sides.