My Pa passed on Christmas Day,
2017, and I have since had time to reflect on his life.
I grew up at his side in the world
of traditional Ozark woodworking and much of what I know about
the subject and the skills I have primarily came from him.
I have lots of things he made and one of my favorites is a
little shaving cabinet that he made in 1940, four years before I
His favorite wood for small projects like this was red gum and
he constantly lauded its merits. He always said that it looks
like cherry but is much easier to saw, plane, shape, and carve.
When he made this cabinet he and my mom had been married three
years and lived in a one-room board and batten shack made of
rough lumber straight from the sawmill near Bay Mill Eddy on
Current River eight miles upstream from Doniphan in Ripley
Fortunately, his father did not lose his farm during The Great
Depression and my pa had a place to build a shack near a spring
which he always referred to as, “our little house up home”. It
was in this shack that he made the subject shaving cabinet with
simple hand tools.
In going through his possessions I found the cabinet and wish to
share the historical and cultural context in which it was made.
He quit using it and removed it from the wall of our kitchen
sometime in the late 1950s. It is missing its mirror in the door
and I will replace it in the near future. When I was a child he
always kept his shaving mug and brush, safety razor, and both
new and worn razor blades in the cabinet.
The main carcase of the cabinet measures 10 3/4ths inches tall,
5 5/8ths inches wide, and 4 1/4th inches deep. It was made of
roughly 1/2-in. stock. The door is 12 5/16ths inches tall. It is
held together with little nails.
This is a view of the front of the shaving cabinet that Pa made
At the top of the door is a motif made with the juice from black
It was not stained. Red gum is actually that color.
This photo shows the right side of the cabinet with two of the
This photo shows the back of the cabinet.