WoodCentral's Book Reviews
Authentic Shaker Furniture

Authentic Shaker Furniture
by Kerry Pierce

Popular Woodworking Books: 2004
Paperback, 128 pp., 24.99
ISBN 1-55870-657-7

     Major projects in the clean look of Shaker furniture are well presented by Kerry Pierce, with a four-drawer sewing desk, two side chairs and a rocker, all with woven seats, bentwood boxes, a tripod table and a hanging wall clock. Several simple scrap wood projects are included also, such as a simple peg rail and clothes hangars suspended by a leather thong.
     Pierce says in his introduction that reproducing Shaker furniture designs has influenced his work and "equipped me with a design vocabulary of forms, shapes and textures that has influenced every Shaker and every non-Shaker piece I now build. The key principles of Shaker furniture making -- minimalism and elegance -- will continue to feed the great river of American design, simply because these principles are too stylistically virtuous to disappear."
     Large clear photographs accompany detailed text to guide the reader through each project step by step. The woven chair seats are explained for both Shaker tape and splint weaving.
     After machine milling his stock, Pierce uses basic machinery and a great deal of handwork in these projects, with good skill-building exercises in hand-cut mortises on round parts, large hand-cut tenons, and plenty of well explained dovetail work.
     Bentwood boxes and carriers are shown, with steam box instructions for bending. Tips are given on how to best align the slim tapered fingers of the box lid band with all the tacked fingers of the box body, which are neatly beveled and tacked with pre-drilled holes to avoid splitting the narow veneer.
     The four-drawer sewing table is an excellent introduction to case work. Done in solid cherry with secondary poplar, this is a complex project with turned legs and knobs, hand dovetailed drawers and beveled side panels. There is also a slide out shelf below the stepped-down lower top. As the author says, "With the drawers open, a neatly fit set of dovetails makes a strong visual impact." The entire sewing table has a strong visual impact, and is a fine piece of furniture.
     If your design style leans toward Shaker tradition, this book is an excellent guide to building the furniture, with a variety of projects and plenty of woodworking instruction included.

. . . Barb Siddiqui