Build a Shaker-Style Bed
Using contemporary construction techniques, this bed still captures the essential Shaker style
The Shakers lived their lives apart from the “world,” what they called life outside their religious communities. They did a lot of things differently from the “world,” including sleep. Because the Shakers were celibate, they had little need for double beds and used them only to save space. Two men, women, or children would sleep together in these.
Many Shaker-designed single beds did not break down. The side rails were tenoned into the legs just like the headboards and footboards. Almost all of the beds had casters on the legs. This made it easy to move the bed out of the way when sweeping the floors. The beds were also relatively high off the ground to keep out of the cold drafts near the floor.
This bed is not a copy of a particular Shaker bed. Instead, I have borrowed elements from a number of Shaker beds I have seen. Some of my construction details remain faithful to traditional Shaker construction. But I have made concessions to modern living and to contemporary woodworking techniques.
I chose to make this a full-size bed, which is more useful than the 28-in.- to 34-in.-wide and 70-in.- to 72-in.- long originals. I also omitted the casters. I hesitate to say that these changes make the bed better, but they certainly make it more familiar and comfortable for us today.
from Beds, pp. 37-51