About the peg rails
While my peg rails are patterned after those the Shakers hung in their buildings, I use modern tools to speed up the process—something the Shakers would certainly admire, as they sought out new technologies to increase efficiency. I begin with boards I hand select, ensuring they are straight and true, with few to no knots. Locations for each peg hole are marked using a handcrafted template and I double check all measurements before moving on. The rails are sanded between each step—routing, cutting, drill pressing, and assembling—and are given a final cleaning before being packaged for sale.
A note about keyholes: many pegs rails that you can buy online come with keyholes in the back (or with pre-drilled holes through the rail at each end, meant to be covered with a wood plug). Though these seem like an easy and convenient way to hang your pegs, they force you to hang your pegs in a certain way and limit your options. Pegs rails need to be attached to studs in order to be the most secure for bearing weight, and while studs are usually spaced 16 or 24 inches apart, your home may be different and having set holes in your rails could prevent you from being able to hang in a stud. Drilling and covering your own holes might be a little more work, but your rails will be much more secure!
I’m an Upstate New York local, and grew up surrounded by Shaker design. My parents’ house was full of Shaker and Shaker-inspired furniture and items, and I came to love the aesthetic.
In addition to filling our home with Shaker goods, my parents built much of the house itself, teaching themselves—as well as me—as they went. I slowly amassed a collection of my own tools, and, while I became interested in all manner of design and building projects, I particularly enjoy working with wood.
In college, I worked in the university’s art museum as a preparator—building displays, hanging artwork, packing pieces for shipping, and lots of changing light bulbs. It was the perfect job for both my interest in art and museums, as well as my love of building things. Much of my time was spent in the wood shop, where I learned how to use many of the tools I now use to create my peg rails.
In college and graduate school I studied art history, focusing on the seventeenth century—the Dutch Golden Age. Though this era is far from the Shakers in both time and distance, I found many similarities in their design styles, with focus often placed on practicality and simplicity. Both cultures emphasized neatness—the Shakers kept brooms hanging from peg rails in most rooms, and the Dutch had a tradition of providing all guests with house slippers so dirty shoes could be left at the door. Like the Shakers, the residents of the Dutch Republic were a pragmatic people quick to embrace technology, an important influence on the works they created. In addition, both societies were sites of relative equality for women and tolerance for minority groups.