Shaker Candle Box

Back in colonial days, if you were a guest visiting someone’s house you might see a box similar to this one. It was reserved for the special candles made of beeswax or bayberry. These candle were bright and had a pleasant odor. Unlike todays paraffin wax candles, the common everyday candle in pre-electric days were tallow candles. These were dim and sooty but were cheap.This box was based after a Shaker design. Shakers were a religious group, and their correct title is actually,The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing. However, outsiders nicknamed them Shakers because at one time their practice of singing and dancing involved a lot of movement. Hmmmm….maybe there is something to furniture making and dancing after all?

They believed to make furniture it had to be well constructed but not too ornate. If a piece was too lavish they felt it encouraged the sin of pride. Shaker furniture makers focused on overall form and proportions. Using proper size and dimensions, they could create a seemingly simplistic piece that was practical yet pleasing to the eyes without resorting to pure decoration.

Embracing  one of the beliefs of the Shakers, “Put your hands to work, and your heart to God.”  I tried to adopt this mental state of mind in the construction of my box. This box was made using only hand tools. I used my Stanley 148 to plow groves into a board, creating the placement for the lid and bottom. The sides were then cut on my miter box.  Thetop was an enjoyable challenge. I used two hand planes. A shoulder plane to create the rabbet which mates with the grooves on the box. And a Stanley 78 rabbet plane to form the raised panel effect. I completed the box with pegs that slightly protrude the sides giving it a twist to the commonly flush fitting pegs.The box has walnut for the lid and pegs, and gummy cherry for the sides.

The Shaker’s method of construction using only hand tools and focusing on the connection of the wood from nature to product did give me a kind of spiritual connection with all things created. Whether or not the box meets the standards of the unsophisticated, simplistic look of the Shakers will be something that perhaps we do not share. However, the one thing we do have in common is at the end of the day, we rejoice, sing and SHAKE IT!

Okay, go dance now people!