Previous Work

Shaker Oval Box Set #01-#9

The Shakers began forming villages in America in the 1700's. Shaker Oval Box making arose out of the Shaker villages at that time. All of the objects they made served a purpose. The function of an object was of paramount importance; its design simple. They did not make things that were merely nice to look at, each object had to have a useful purpose. The Shakers improved on the wooden "pantry box" design used at that time by adding the distinctive "swallowtail" joint. That improvement allowed for the expansion and contraction of the wood at the overlap without splitting. Shaker Oval Box Making is a true American craft. The oval box is widely recognized as quintessential "Shaker", encompassing both simple form and clear function.

Orleans Carpenters was started in 1976 by Dick and Phoebe Soule as a carpenter's shop with a focus on teaching troubled youths a trade. By 1978 our work consisted almost exclusively of Shaker inspired woodworking, particularly oval box making. In 1986 we bought the business and with an eclectic mix of workers began shifting the focus entirely toward oval box making. With the advent of the internet, our name Orleans Carpenters morphed to include ShakerBoxes.com to more accurately reflect our box making focus.

Over the years we took basic Shaker Oval Box design and applied it to objects useful in contemporary life: coasters, trays, waste basket, divided carriers, pin box, tissue box and Limited Edition Birdseye Maple and Black Walnut Boxes. Each piece was made simply yet painstakingly of North American hardwoods and copper tacks by craftsmen who took pride in their work. Our attention to detail is what created a following of loyal customers and collectors around the world.

During our tenure as box makers, our boxes were chosen as gifts for common folk and dignitaries alike. Our list of distinguished customers and box owners includes: A United States Supreme Court Justice. The former Soviet Union First Lady Raisa Gorbachev and the King and Queen of Denmark. President Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy presented over 200 guests at a Rose Garden luncheon with our #2 box, comb-grained painted and filled with rose potpourri. Our boxes were chosen as favorites on one of Oprah Winfrey's earliest "Oprah's Favorite Things" shows. After the Challenger space shuttle disaster, manufacturer Martin Marietta used our boxes to convey to their customers their commitment to quality. Banana Republic, Macy's, Strawbridge and Clothier sold our boxes as did Harrods, who chose our boxes to be showcased in "A New England Christmas". Georgio Armani, Calvin Klein, and Estee Lauder are a few of the design houses who chose our work for their stores. The Mingei Museum selected our Birdseye boxes to be included in the book : "Kindred Spirits: The Eloquence of Function in American Shaker and Japanese Arts of Daily Life" and its traveling museum exhibit comparing Japanese and Shaker design. A full set of our Birdseye Maple boxes are in the permanent collection of the Mingei Museum. QVC picked our boxes for their juried "Quest For America's Best- The 50 in 50 Tour". Over many years, Massachusetts Governors Romney and Patrick presented hundreds of our boxes engraved with the Massachusetts State Seal as goodwill gifts to visiting dignitaries and statesmen here and abroad. Orleans Carpenters ShakerBoxes.com boxes were staples for decades at the MFA and a number of Shaker museums.

In October 2012 we retired from making Shaker Boxes. Although we no longer make or sell boxes, you may still find an occasional box for sale on the internet. The link on the upper left hand side of this page takes you to photos of some of our previous work. The simplicity of the Shaker Oval Box design makes them timeless in both beauty and usefulness. It has been a pleasure making boxes for you; we hope you use, enjoy and pass them down for generations!


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