Shaker box making with Richard Gibson

Ref: SWE33451

Book now

Places available

About this course

Learn how to make a set of three nesting Shaker boxes in native English hardwood using traditional hand woodworking techniques for bending wood and crafting the iconic Shaker swallow tail joint.

Course Description

You will learn how to make a beautiful set of three nesting Shaker boxes. No previous woodworking experience is needed. You will be taken step-by-step through the box making process, learning traditional techniques including bending wood using hot water, cutting the iconic Shaker swallow tail with a knife and securing the bands with copper tacks and bases with wooden pegs. These boxes are made without using any glue. Along the way there will be time to learn something about the history of bentwood boxes and the Shakers, their communities and the principles underpinning their designs.

By the end of the course you will know the processes involved in making a Shaker box and be able to safely use the skills acquired on the course. An instruction booklet will be provided for you to take home.

Course Materials


  • The course fee includes the cost of providing all materials required for your set of boxes.

What students need to bring

  • An apron and stout covered footwear to wear in the workshop – essential
  • Notebook and pen


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

General Information


Richard Gibson - Tutor at West Dean College

Richard Gibson

During my career in engineering I discovered Shaker boxes; they captivated me. What began as a hobby grew over the course of 20 years, into a business. Based in rural Dorset, I now supply galleries across the South West and run courses.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Sculptural woodcarving

26 Jul 2024 to 1 Aug 2024 | West Dean
1 place available
Tutor: Alex Jones |
Suitable for all

Shaker box making

13 to 15 Sep 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Richard Gibson |
Suitable for all

Woodcarving for beginners

13 to 15 Sep 2024 | West Dean
Places available
Tutor: Alex Jones |

Woodturning – better bowl turning

7 to 9 Oct 2024 | West Dean
2 places available
Tutor: Richard Findley |

Interested in a career in woodworking?

Our Foundation Degree specialising in Furniture is designed to give you well-rounded woodworking theory and craft skills to become a self-employed maker or craftsperson, to continue your studies in higher education or to find employment in the creative industry sector. Find out more