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Steve Grasselli holding Shaker Boxes Quote by Steve Grasselli
Steve Grasselli holding Shaker Boxes Quote by Steve Grasselli

Most original boxes were made of hard maple and eastern white pine.  The Shakers used these woods because they were correct for the original use of the box which was food storage.

Maple has no flavor, that is why your cutting board is maple, and your wooden spoon is probably maple.  Maple is usually white in color to light grey.

Pine was used for the top and bottom because it works easily and it is very stable.  It does not expand or contract much so the box sides do not break or open up large gaps.

Cherry wood is popular because it fits well into any decorating style.  Cherry will mellow to a deep red in time.

Walnut is a beautiful wood for boxes.  The old Shakers did not make walnut boxes that I know of, even though walnut is common in the western societies in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.  This may be because walnut is not a good choice for food storage.  I make a lot of walnut boxes, they are especially striking with a birdseye maple top.  The copper tacks seem to pop out against the walnut wood.

Painted boxes were common among the Shakers before the civil war.  One interesting fact is the Shakers would paint the boxes with the lid on the box.  This meant when the lid was removed you would see a band of raw, unpainted wood.  While that look is historically accurate it is unsightly so I do not use it.  A nest of painted boxes can brighten up any room.