Most times when you read anything written about Shaker furniture two words are almost always used to describe it, perfection and simplicity. In my opinion most Shaker pieces are neither. Over the past few years I have been able to get up close and personal with some of the most famous Shaker furniture and have found it’s construction not to be the flawless perfection most folks think it is. Anyone care to guess why? I think the reason is it was made by humans and humans screw up.
The imperfections have not made me think less of the makers or the furniture. In fact it has had an endearing effect; I can relate to it from my own efforts making furniture.
Here are a few examples from a table in the collection at Hancock Shaker Village that I measured a few years back.
The photos below are of the same table but none of these are really mistakes but rather how most vintage furniture of this era was made.
Please don’t take this post as me bashing this table or whoever it’s maker was. My hat is off to him, he had problems and worked around them. Overall this is a very nice, well made table. The leg turnings were excellent as was the rule joint on the drop leaf.
The major point I am trying to make here is don’t sweat the small stuff or mistakes you make too much. The pieces we are often trying to replicate were never perfect to begin with. Even though this table had some birthing problems it is nearly 190 years old, structurally sound and as serviceable today as when it was made. Imperfections included, it was more than good enough to survive.
You can view this table at HSV’s online collection here.