Friday, January 2, 2009

Shaker Cupboard Photo Essay - Part I

Some projects get completed quickly. Some projects take longer than expected. Then there are those projects that turn into epic journeys, full of side tracks, dead ends, new skills and maybe even a trip to the emergency room. The Shaker Cupboard was one of the latter.

Almost three years ago, my wife and I, along with our friends Dave and Sarah, visited the Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill in Kentucky. I didn't know it at the time, but I took the picture that would inspire this project. In the back of the Centre Family Dwelling, I saw this step-back cupboard:

About a year later, I decided to create my own version - based on the Pleasant Hill cupboard, but with modifications made to fit our needs. I made some sketches, some simple plans and got to work. I had no idea how long a project this was going to turn into. In the end, the cupboard, in various stages of completion, was in the shop for about two years. Obviously, I did not work on it constantly, or even consistently.

I didn't decide to take pictures of the process until it was already underway. My intention is that this will be a photo essay, and as such will be more images than words. I'll try to keep it to short captions at most.

Attaching the cupboard back: bench and tools (coins were for spacing the T&G boards).

Bench with tools and cupboard.

Cupboard with back complete.

Detail of adjustable shelf supports in lower section of cupboard - shelves get notched to fit around vertical supports.

Still life with hand tools (So I like pictures of working tools - gotta problem with that?)

Shelves in place.

Face frames installed - it's starting to look real. I spent a lot of time making sure that the shelves could still be removed after the face frames and doors were in place. They can - just.

Frame and panel door mock-up.

Rail, stile and panel test joint. In the end I decided against the beading.


  1. @Don: How do you cut your Dado's or Groves in your Stiles and all to Receive the Panel?

    When you do another project that requires Panels or doors rather to be made, would you mind a Small Pictorial?

    Just a Small process of how you make them with Hand tools, I'm very interested


  2. Handi - I'd be happy to do a post on frame and panel doors - of course my method is just one way of doing it - I'm sure there are many other ways to get to Rome.

    A plow plane works great for the grooves - although on this project, I think I just used the Stanley 48, which is really a match plane normally used for T&G. I haven't made many doors, so it was a bit of an experiment...


Comment Moderation has been turned on - too much spam! Bummer.

I will get an email notification and will approve any appropriate comments ASAP.