Shaker Box

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Project by Ken Fitzpatrick posted 09-25-2011 09:55 PM 2236 views 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’ve been making shaker boxes for several years now. They are like eating pringles, you can’t just build one.
I usually make them in sets. They nest together and usually come as a set of 4 or 5. I just finished this one with some special maple burl for the top and cherry for the side bands.

For a long time I was making the standard boxes, mostly of cherry in sets. I did throw in some maple bands with cherry lids and then tried some birds eye maple for the tops of the cherry sets. Use to buy all my supplies until I learned how to res-saw to my satisfaction and also veneer. Everything changed after that.

Now I re-saw my bands and veneer my top and bottom stock made of 1/8” mdf. It is very stable and easy to work with. The veneer available seems to be unlimited. It is quite easy to make up blanks to use. When veneering you should always do both sides of your substrate for balance. Because some of the veneer is so rare I have taken to matching the inside of the tops and bottoms with veneer of whatever bands that I am using. If the veneer is really rare or I only have enough for a top, I use the band wood veneer for both sides of the bottom.

Don’t know why, but when building these little rascals it is a peacefull feeling that you get. They are beautiful, useful and desired by everyone who sees that you can build them. Just about everyone I have ever made has been given away except for a special few.

When my best friend passed unexpectedly a few years ago, I was honored when his family asked for some boxes for his ashes. One was placed in the wall at the Veteran’s Cemetary in Agawam, MA, with the other two given with cremains to his wife and son.

As my friend was an avid fisherman and spent most summers at Lake George, NY we gathered a group of family and friends and went to Lake George to distribute those cremains across the middle of the lake. His wife and son now have the boxes as a memorial.

Maybe that’s why I get that peaceful fealing. Thanks for looking.

-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

4 comments so far

View Gary's profile


9331 posts in 3431 days

#1 posted 09-25-2011 10:24 PM

Really nice work. I’d like to see a tutorial on building those boxes

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View StumpyNubs's profile


7591 posts in 2798 days

#2 posted 09-25-2011 11:42 PM

You should put your shaker box on your new shaker table…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View Ken Fitzpatrick's profile

Ken Fitzpatrick

376 posts in 4021 days

#3 posted 09-26-2011 01:52 AM

Stumpy…I just did

Gary, there are some great shaker box tutorials right here on LJ. I love looking at them myself as there are always different ways to accomplish something and I have picked up some different ideas that were helpful to me. I learned how to make them at a workshop given by a gentleman name Paul Labossier in West Springfield, MA at the Woodcraft store.

I’m a visual person and learn much easier seeing how to do something either in person or video. John Wilson and Brent Roark both have wonderful videos on boxes and trays and carriers (boxes with handles). You can probably check out at your local library.

-- • "I have noticed that nothing I have never said ever did me any harm."....... Calvin Coolidge

View Mike2011's profile


7 posts in 2489 days

#4 posted 09-28-2011 07:13 PM

Ken – very nice box.

I also find making these boxes extremely peaceful – I usually have my boombox / ipod going with a podcast (The Adam Carolla Show, Car Talk, Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me, A Prairie Home Companion) when I am in the shop, but I’ve caught myself turning that off when I am working on these boxes. Do you think that there’s something about the design or maybe understanding the Shaker history or box history that resonates? Maybe it’s because I have to pay particular attention to several process steps – getting the fingers trimmed correctly, bending the wood with the correct side out, getting the fingers pointing the right direction, and, and, and. It could also be the realization that I will be giving the boxes away (every horizontal surface in my home and shop is already covered up with stuff) and that the recipient will enjoy them for years to come. (I wonder what goes in the many, many boxes that I give away?) I guess that I should not examine it too closely, but just relax and enjoy it.

Having made my own bands several times, I have now gone back to buying them from John Wilson. Making the boxes is more enjoyable than preparing the stock, but that’s just me (plus you absolutely cannot beat John’s customer service). Using veneered tops & bottoms is a new concept for me. I want to give that a try. I am assembling the stuff to do small-scale veneering – going to try a Andrew Crawford-style box – so I will have veneering capability in the near future. (One of the last things that I am looking for is a book press.)

In addition to John Wilson’s website, downloads and DVD, he also published articles in the November 2009, November 2007, October 2007 and July 2006 issue of Popular Woodworking magazine, the March 1995 issue of Weekend Woodworking Project magazine, and the September / October 1993 issue of Fine Woodworking magazine.

Jim Downing published an article with Cliff Myers in the January 1991 issue of Wood magazine on traditional Shaker Carriers (Shaker Oval Box with a handle, but no lid).

Rob Crosman produced a DVD with Brent Rourke on Making Shaker Oval Boxes as part of his Master Craftsman Series that’s pretty good.

I am glad that you also find peace and contentment while making these boxes. Thanks for sharing.

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