Shaker Box Set

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In March of 2005, Ralph Brendler flew out from Chicago to present a pair of classes in Shaker box making to the Bay Area Galoots. I attended the first session with nine other local woodworkers, and we all brought home a set of what Ralph likes to call "Shaker Tupperware." This is mine - maple bands with cherry tops. The box sizes are one through three. If you ever have an opportunity to attend such a class, please make every effort to do so. There are many skills to be learned, and the company is bound to be enjoyable. A reasonable amount of equipment is required, but most of it could be fabricated in the home shop. A boiling tank (heated by a Coleman stove) is the only item of any size. Anvils made from pipe and a set of forms and band templates in the appropriate size are really all you need beyond basic hand tools. Ralph has built a number of special sanding machines from hand cranked grinders which put a proper four degree bevel on the tops and bottoms.

The boxes are made from thin strips of wood (the bands) and plywood tops and bottoms. The tops are veneered to your choice of wood. Small copper tacks are the only other supplies required. There is no glue at all in these boxes. If you have any experience in steam bending, these are really easy to make. Even if you don't, it is easy to learn, as these don't require an exterior compression strap as thicker wood sometimes does. The boxes were all fabricated during class time (roughly 9 AM to 3 PM) with a break for lunch during which the boxes dried out from the bending. After bringing them home, I simply let them finish drying, did some sanding, and wiped on a coat of oil followed by a few coats of shellac.