Shaker-inspired Bookcase for Masterclasses


I got to pretty much conclude my workbench stool  and so I transfer my skills to making the Shaker bookcase again. I don;t like unfinished business and that includes projects. This Shaker project pegs it for me. It has been neat to make and expresses the simplicity Shaker pieces strove to use in a simple yet highly productive life. Last year, when I visited the Hancock Shaker Museum in Massachusetts, I felt the privilege of seeing dozens of furniture pieces and other utensils that distinguished the Shakers as a people seeking to be set apart by what they did with their hands. I could see the workmanship in every plane stroke they left as a signature and I loved the thought that their investment is here as a legacy today. Please, all you woodworkers and craftspeople in general, take a day trip to the village. You will not regret spending time. It was Joseph who first told me about it and I just loved seeing everything they had to offer.

DSC_0001 The joinery we used over the past few days of filming harkens back several centuries and of course there are thousands of joints you can use in the everyday of woodworking, but I have said it before and it’s worth repeating here, with three joints, three variations on each and about ten hand tools, you can make any Shaker piece of furniture ever made.

DSC_0043 DSC_0037 Phil and I worked hard today and we have much of the joinery done. Stopped housing dadoes are used throughout this Shaker bookshelf and a few additional mortise and tenons add some extra interest. We have hand planed the surfaces with the #4 Stanley smoother and the pine feels so ultra smooth it is hard to imagine having to use any sandpaper at all. We rounded over the bullnosed front edges and the top piece and ripped everything to width using a panel saw. This filming went really smoothly and apart from me jamming a screwdriver into my thumb, we managed to complete a major section revolving around layout of the shelves and mortise and tenons. Tomorrow we may get most of the filming done, which means doing in pickups we need and of course getting ready for the next series.

DSC_0024 I took my usual walk through the National Trust grounds to reset my disposition and found lots to examine and take closeups of. Not many people at this time of the year so I generally get the whole of the grounds to myself throughout the winter.

This is me after my walk and this is the entrance to my workshop in Penrhyn Castle. Cobbled stones for walkways and walls three feet thick. I like all of that, but every time I come here I cannot wait to get my hands on the wood. It’s tough life!


  1. Hancock Shaker Village is just a little more than an hour and a half south of me. For anyone with even the slightest interest in Shaker craftsmanship it’s well worth the trip from anywhere. I go for a day and want to stay for a week. Beyond the upcoming bookshelf, a few other Shaker design pieces here and there would make for interesting master class projects.

    You’ve got the snow drops Paul, we’ve got the snow. Take care of that wounded thumb.

  2. Ah,’s a rough life but someone’s got to live it..haha

    Happy Belated Birthday!

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