Shaker Style Wood Projects


Shaker style is a practical design option that provides clean, plain lines. Shaker furniture and wood projects, are, by extension, suitable for every home because there are no complex designs to design around. The original Shaker age lasted fifty years, from 1820 to the 1870's, but the simple designs live on today. Building your own Shaker wood projects is a challenging and rewarding pursuit.

Project Decisions

Decide what kind of furniture piece you would like to make. Norm Abram, in his book, "Mostly Shaker from the New Yankee Workshop," offers instructions and plans for several different types of projects, including a two- or three-step stool, a two-drawer Shaker blanket chest, a Shaker washstand, a wall clock and a harvest table. Other pieces to consider include rocking chairs, benches and washstands. When deciding what project to build, keep in mind that the Shaker style is one of simplicity. Unless you are an accomplished woodworker, it is best to have a plan for the piece you want to make. There are numerous books, television shows and magazines on which to draw inspiration. Ideas can also come from pieces you already own and want to create. Even if it is a sketch with dimensions on a piece of paper, a visual aid is a must to keep you on track.

The Modern Woodshop

No wood project can begin without wood. Norm Abrams recommends saving expensive hardwood for the parts of a piece that show and use plywood for drawer bottoms, cabinet backs and interior shelves. The Shakers developed innovative ways to save time and labor in their everyday lives, including in the wood shop, such as the thickness planer and even the circular saw blade. Today's power tools assure that cuts are perfect and seams are joined. The well-equipped woodshop will include a table saw, miter saw, wood lathe, a router, a jigsaw, dovetailing saw and a drill press with drum sander attachment. Keep in mind that your project may require a specific piece of equipment. Check the instructions.


There are many ways to stain or paint the finished piece. The best way to make a decision is to decide what you want and then find a way to make it happen. Colors for Shaker furniture include red brick, varying tones of brown and black. You can, however, paint your piece any color that you want. How you finish it determines how you are going to use it. For example the counter-like top of a Shaker-style washstand should be covered in polyurethane because it will undergo a lot of wear and tear and you don't want paint to chip off. A table, on the other hand, can be covered in stain.

Keywords: Shaker woodworking, Shaker style, Shaker projects

About this Author

Caroline Fritz has more than 18 years of writing and editing experience, mainly for publications in Northwest Ohio. She is currently an editor for a national technical magazine focusing on the construction industry. She has a Bachelor of Science in journalism from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

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