Shaker boxes

The Shakers were an 18-19th century religious community in the US. They developed a distinctive style of furniture characterized by its simplicity, beautiful proportions and functionality, and absence of unneeded ornamentation.  One kind of items they developed were "oval Shaker boxes", used for storing all sorts of goods such as foodstuff, herbs, nails, sewing materials etc. Essentially these were the Tupperware boxes of the day. They are made by heating thin strips (1,6-2,5 mm thick, depending on the size of the box) of wood in hot water or using steam, and bending these around an elliptical mould.  The ends of the strips are tacked together using small copper nails (tacks); by placing a metal anvil under the pieces to be joined, the tips of the tacks bend over, creating a strong bond like a staple. The boxes are produced in a variety of sizes, from around 10cm up to more than 50 cm in length.

The Shaker boxes I made are from strips of cherry wood, with the top and bottom pannels made from western red cedar (chosen for the straight grain pattern and nice smell, altough suffering from the disadvantage of being quite soft).  Some of the boxes are just treated with oil and wax, others I have painted.



Bernard Delaey