Shaker Hanging Cabinet, photos & plans

 

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On my last visit to Hancock Shaker Village I took some quick photos and measured this little hanging cabinet from their collection. This cabinet is probably familiar to you, it is in many books on Shaker furniture and is one of HSV’s more famous pieces. It is simply made in white pine, all nailed construction but not just thrown together. Like most Shaker pieces, thought went in to it’s construction and appearance. The proportions are excellent and built in the manner of other hanging cabinets I have seen. Everything ties to the back board so that the top and bottom boards which are nailed into end grain (very weak) are not really supporting much more than their own weight.

I have even wondered if this little cabinet is not somehow connected to Isaac N. Youngs. It is made in the exact manner of his 1840 style clock cases, down to the same type of nails he used. He was well known for signing or at least initialing his work but no signature of any kind is present on the cabinet.

Anyway, below are some photos of the cabinets details that are not in the books. Also, a measured drawing I made including a tracing of the pediment profile.

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The hanging slot was broken out, there is a repair on the back. Also note the dog bites on the top of the door.
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The edges of the top and bottom boards have small facets to the rounded edges, they were probably done with a straight ironed plane.
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The bottom board is made of two 1/4″ thick pieces, the one you see here and one glued to the top of it on the inside cabinet. The nails thru the side board are driven into the inner board making a cross nailed joint.
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No lack of nails in the backboard. The piece of metal is the repair to the hanging slot.

 

Below are the drawings I made at Hancock this past spring. Save them to your computer, you will be able to zoom in and decipher my chicken scratch more easily!Little Cab 1Little Cab 2

 

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I just finished making a cabinet following the drawing above. The only change I would recommend would be to make the stiles and door 1/2″ thick instead of 3/8″. The reason for this is, it is hard to get hinges small enough to work on the 3/8″ thickness of any quality. The Horton Brasses small box hinges will work perfectly on 1/2″ thick stock.
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I added a thin metal reinforcement to the top of the hanging slot. It is attached with small tacks and epoxy. If I were to make another, I think it would be better to make the reinforcement U shaped extending down to the top board and nailed or screwed in, it would be much stronger.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas!

-Will Myers

Addendum: Russ Hammond of Brisbane, Australia took the above sketch and made a much better version. The dimensions are metric. Thanks Russ!Cabinet 1Cabinet 2

 

 

 

7 thoughts on “Shaker Hanging Cabinet, photos & plans

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  1. It is nice to see more information and photos of this cabinet. I have built a version from Christopher Schwarz’ article in Popular Woodworking. I admit that I used cherry and not pine.

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    1. I used 1 1/4″ headless cut brads from Tremont Nail. I also bored pilot holes for most all of the nails…..the parts of this thing are pretty thin!

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