Since 1993, LeHay’s Shaker Boxes has been a proud member of a group of artisans working in early American crafts. While mass-produced, machine-made items have replaced many traditional products, nothing can replace the individuality of an item that has been created by hand using local, all-natural materials. Instantly recognizable, the Shaker box is an iconic piece of American craftsmanship. By concentrating on the functional aspects of an item and omitting unnecessary ornament the Shakers produced timeless designs. Shaker boxes were traditionally used for cooking and sewing supplies, but they can easily hold anything from mementos to electronics while adding warmth and beauty to your space. I chose to create boxes in the Shaker style not only because of their desirability as an antique but also because of their durability and usefulness. My goal is to remain true to Shaker traditions. My products are created using the same craftsmanship that the Shaker community used for over 200 years.
“I am blessed to have gotten two of your works of art lately! They are just perfect — meticulous craftsmanship!” – Susan B.
My materials are either produced here on my property or come from small, American businesses. I mill my lumber on site from raw maple and pine logs to guarantee the highest quality from start to finish, and the tops and bottoms of all except the largest boxes are quartersawn pine, not veneer. For authentic antique colors I use all-natural finishes including milk paint, dyes, Tung oil and carnauba wax. The boxes are fastened with copper tacks that have been darkened to provide an aged finish. Every part of the boxes is completed individually by my own hands. I believe the act of creating, and helping others to create, is as important as the finished product itself. That’s why I supply not only the boxes, but materials necessary for others to participate in the craft as well. The Shakers were a society of makers. They built what they needed with their own hands from local resources. LeHay’s continues that tradition, creating a quality product that also benefits the local economy, honors local history and passes along the knowledge to future generations.
I was born and raised in Maine and have spent my life working with my hands. Building Shaker boxes came as a natural progression from my childhood, which I spent working with my parents and brother building houses. In earlier years we would live in the lower levels of the home while building the top levels around us, selling the home and moving on to the next when that one was completed. When my brother joined the Navy, my parents transitioned to buying and selling antiques as their parents did before them. Most teenagers would find this experience intolerably dull, but I loved hunting for quality pieces at auctions and yard sales and developed an appreciation for the quality of hand-made items. I left for a few years to complete my military service and was recalled for Operation Desert Storm, but I returned to the family business as soon as I could. By then, it was becoming difficult to find antiques in good condition, so my parents started making Shaker style furniture to sell alongside the antiques in their shop. I helped them build the furniture for a couple of years after returning home, and then in 1993, I learned to make Shaker boxes at the Sabbathday Lake Shaker Village.
I began making the boxes to sell alongside my parents’ furniture, but it wasn’t long before I was focusing on them exclusively. Today, my workshop is attached to my home on 20 acres of land on a dirt road in Embden, Maine. I take pride in crafting every inch of my products and branding them with my family’s name.