Shaker furniture is a standard style of design that almost all woodworkers build in at one time or another. When searching for literature to help one gain historically accurate Shaker inspiration it can be somewhat difficult. Many have built in this style, many have adapted the style, and many have altered the original designs to suit their needs. However, there are some nice literal examples of historic Shaker furniture. The Book of Shaker Furniture is one of those superb examples. With 254 black and white photos and 71 amazingly detailed drawings, this book is a must have for anyone looking to build authentic Shaker furniture.
The author John Kassay himself was a very amazing person. He fought in WWII and earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star while serving under Gen. Patton’s Third Army. He then went on to college where he earned his doctorate in education from Washington State University in 1970. Mr. Kassay taught industrial arts at the middle school, high school and at San Francisco State University for over 30 years. In 1980, The Book of Shaker Furniture was published to great acclaim. In 1998, The Book of American Windsor Furniture: Styles and Technologies was published, but I will save that one for another review.
The book is an amazing resource for information. It starts with a brief overview of the Shaker history, their lives, and the craftsman who build their furniture. The pictures and drawings in the book are laid out by different furniture types including beds, boxes, desks, clocks, chairs, tables, and several others. Though this book is mostly pictures and detailed drawings, it is packed with great details specific to each item photographed. Information including overall dimensions, types of wood, finishes, the date built, the individual craftsman who built the item, and many other tidbits of information. Combining the detailed measured drawings, the given techniques/materials, and the photos, one should be able to build just about all the items in this book.
The 71 detailed drawing throughout the book are quite amazing too. The level of detail is far beyond what many woodworkers are probably used to. Blueprints would be a better name for the detailed drawings in the book. The drawings include historical building information, all measurements, and a full list of dimensions and wood types for every piece of the item. When I talk about details, Kassay even gives you the exact measurements between each dovetail, that’s detail.
Overall this book is just a must have for anyone building Shaker style furniture. It is a great resource for craftsman and I even use it to show clients examples of the style for their own use.
This book can easily be found just about anywhere that sells woodworking books. They usually sell for around $40.
If you like this book review you might like the others. Please visit The Bookshelf and check out the continually growing list of books that I have reviewed.
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