What a defunct Christian sect has to do with jigsaw puzzles in our home office.

Let’s talk about a tiny piece of history that you wouldn’t’ve never’ve seen’ve in your history class. I don’t even thing drunk history has touched on these guys. But if your’e a woodworker, then you have probably heard of them. That’s right, we’re talking about the Shakers. The Shakers kinda started out as a mixture of two protestant Christian groups – they split from the Quakers (of hot cereal fame), and were influenced by the Camisards (of little fame at all). In fact, they were originally referred to as the Shaking Quakers, due to their habit of getting just that extra bit excited during their church services.

I find these guys pretty fascinating. They were relatively progressive, allowing women to be leaders in their churches back in the 1770s (unlike some churches even today). They had tight-knit communities based in agriculture, were pacifists like the Quakers, and believed in celibacy – meaning they had to convert members into their communities instead of being able to just welp some kids into their ranks. So who really knows how they were day to day, but on paper they at least had some unique traits.

Apparently they only have three official members left, and despite their decline, they have left a legacy that I am very grateful for: easy-to-build furniture.

Shaker style furniture is defined by right angles, gentle curves, and a lack of technical showmanship. No showy exposed jointery, and no fancy inlays. Keep. It. Simple. Stupid. And the humility they believed in showed though their craftsmanship. This is something I appreciate as they seemed to follow through on their teaching, not to mention that it is a timeless style that lacks much trendiness, something that I don’t have time for if I am going to spend hours building something from scratch.

So I needed a bookshelf, and in the Shaker style I went.

This was my reference image that I used to build my project. No need for a dimensioned set of plans, time to just bloody wing it.

And how I built it doesn’t even matter, the process is going to be pretty much the same as any woodworking project. First, start with rough wood and make it gradually less rough. Then, employ basic counting and fraction skills until you are able to fit things together like they are a set of legos. Next, hope you have enough clamps,

then add a couple angles or contours in the right places so that you can say you have style,

and eventually you have something complete with character, function, and even a few flaws. None of which you would trade for the finest, expensivest, voguiest piece of shelf you could find. Because you made it.

And that’s that. Ain’t she a beaut?

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