The Shakers led very disciplined, structured lives. They rose at 4:00 a.m. in the summer, allowing themselves to sleep in an hour later in winter. They stopped working at 7:30 p.m. on summer evenings and at 8:00 p.m. in the winter, one-half hour before evening worship. They also ate their meals at precise times. A Shaker elder from Ohio once said, "The clock is an emblem of the Shaker community because everything goes on time. Promptness, absolute punctuality, is a sine qua non of a successful community."
In the early, lean years of their movement, Shaker communities considered
Case top themselves fortunate to own one working "alarum" clock. As the sect prospered, and as clock makers joined the movement, the availability of the timepieces spread. The Shakers never carried pocket watches, however. These were considered unnecessary indulgences.
The mechanisms of original Shaker clocks were made from brass or wood. A less costly and more reliable modern alternative is to buy a quartz clock movement. These can be ordered complete with metal dial and with or without a pendulum from many hobby supply stores. The following pages show how to assemble a case for a Shaker-style wall clock.
Isaac Newton Youngs was one of the few Shaker clock makers to design and construct cases to house his timepieces. The clock shown below was inspired by one that he built in the spring of 1840 at the New Lebanon community in New York State.
Case top panel
Case side panel
Bottom trim piece
Bottom trim piece
The wall clock is assembled with the same precision that Shakers brought to their daily routines. The four panels of the case are glued together with rabbets, and the rails and stiles of the doors are joined with open mortise-and-tenon joints. The backboard fits into a rabbet cut along the back of the case panels, and is nailed in place. The trim pieces are simply glued to the top and bottom panels of the case. The divider is glued into stopped dadoes in the side panels of the case. Use %6-inch-thick stock for all but the doors and divider, which are made from ^-inch-thick wood.
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