Saturday, April 28, 2012

Shaker Candle Stand

Some things don’t need fixing.  Witness “New Coke” in Atlanta about 25 years ago — somebody thought they could fix Coca-Cola.  Duh!!  How would you improve a ’57 Chevy?  Did anybody give Elvis singing lessons?  Who would have stopped Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and said “Wait, you’re doing that all wrong: you dance backwards and let her dance forwards, and by the way, lose the top hat and cane.”?

I have been working on a Shaker Candle Stand the last few days and I Googled it for some reason.  Do you know how many people think they can improve on the original?  Listen, Homer, it is done.  It is completed.  Do not sit down and say, “I think I will re-design the Shaker Candle Stand — I can do better.”

My Candle Stand

You cannot add ball and claw feet to this thing.  You cannot carve deep philosophical thoughts into the top of it.  Do not add fancy gingerbread brackets to the underside of the table.  If you simply cannot resist, then go carve clown faces in your hope chest.  The candle stand was completed 200 years ago and it is done.  I don’t have a problem with trying to improve your technique, make the dovetails better, upgrade your skew skills on the post, that sort of thing.  But nobody has improved on it in 200 years and I can tell you, Ralph, you are not going to help it.

Go watch the Roy Underhill video on making one of these babies and listen to St. Roy expound on the shape of that marvelous center post.  I love this little table, it is probably my favorite thing to try to make and I have parts of one going nearly all the time in my shop.  The dovetails are difficult for me, but I will get better.

Hancock Shaker Village Table

A couple of years ago I went to New England to take a class and while there I went by the Hancock Shaker Village for a tour.  They have a beautiful Candle Stand there and it is the one I try to make each time.  If my effort does not match this beautiful example, it is a lack of skill on my part, not because I think I can improve on it.

What do you think?  Let me hear from you.

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