When you purchase a piece of Amish furniture, you’re acquiring a remarkable, hand-crafted product that meets the highest standards in quality. But in order to construct such a piece of furniture, a detailed, intricate process must first be followed. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at some of the steps and techniques involved with Amish furniture-making.
Using woodworking methods brought over from their ancestors in Switzerland, many Amish began making furniture after coming to the United States, as a means of earning a living. While the Amish still utilize some of these older methods and practices, they’ve also developed their own distinct furniture-making styles. These techniques are often passed down from generation to generation among families, and the extraordinary pieces that result speak for themselves, with regards to quality.
All Amish furniture is individually handcrafted from solid hardwood (no nails, particle boards or laminate). Many different types of wood are used to make the furniture, including oak, elm, hickory, cherry, walnut, pine and maple, among others. The type of lumber to be used on each piece is carefully selected, with quality, color and grain all being taken into account. This selection process can be quite painstaking, but in the end, it helps to achieve the unique look Amish furniture is known for.
Following selection, the wood is quarter sawn. During this process, each log is sawed into four quarters. This results in a straight grain pattern on the edge of the wood, thus allowing for further design.
Next, the wood is seasoned. The most common process for accomplishing this is through open-air drying, which is also known as “stick” drying. While air drying is the more traditional method of seasoning, kiln drying is another option. This involves applying heat to the wood in a controlled environment, and it’s comparable to placing the wood in an “oven” of sorts.
Another step in the making of furniture is the assembling of the wood. One of the most standard practices in this step involves the joining together of two pieces of wood, which is known as joinery. The durability of the wood is enhanced by the use of traditional joining methods, all of which are used by the Amish. These include tongue and groove joining, dove-tailing and mitering.
As for the finish work, hand tools, such as saws and planers, have long been the traditional devices for such work, since the use of electricity is strictly prohibited. In modern times, however, most Amish woodworking shops use hydraulic and pneumatic tools. The process may take some time, but with electricity forbidden, these devices are quite handy in that they’re powered by diesel or gas compressors.
After many hours of intense labor, Amish woodworkers are ready to put the finishing touches on the product. Over the years, they’ve developed special stains and finishes that are applied to the furniture, and these treatments help each piece achieve its unique appearance. The Amish are capable of producing many different shades, colors and styles for their stains. They range from lighter, more natural-looking finishes, to darker stains, like hickory and chestnut, to even darker ones, such as charcoal.
In addition to its impressive durability and appearance, Amish furniture is also known for its functionality. A great example of this can be found in the way the Amish woodworkers utilize steel ball bearing drawer glides in their furniture drawers. These help the drawers to achieve maximum functionality by allowing full access to the entire drawer, while keeping the drawer from becoming stuck or falling out.
Amish craftsmen will often use soft close drawer glides, as well. These enable the drawer to actually soft close itself when pushed, thereby keeping it from slamming.
While the Amish excel at the technical aspects of furniture making, that isn’t the only reason their furniture is top-notch. An Amish woodworking shop is a place where you’ll find incredible work ethic on display at all times. These highly skilled professionals are passionate about what they do, and their devotion to their craft is evident in each and every timeless piece of furniture.
The Amish create Heirloom Quality Home Decor, furniture that is built to last a lifetime and to be passed down through many generations.