Two Popular Styles of Amish-Crafted Furniture: Shaker vs Mission

Whether you’re an avid furniture collector or a casual shopper, chances are you’re already familiar with the reputation for quality that’s associated with hand-crafted Amish furniture.


I’ve personally spent many years working hand-in-hand with these highly skilled carpenters, but it didn’t take me long to discover their reputation for exceptional woodworking isn’t for naught.


While every piece of Amish furniture is made with a high degree of quality, the unique character of these pieces is brought out through a variety of styles. Two of the most popular of these styles are commonly known as Shaker and Mission.


Before we dive into the unique characteristics of each one, let’s first take a look at where these two styles originated from.


The Shakers were a group of people who broke away from the Quakers of England back in the eighteenth century. Strong proponents of living off the land, they came to New York in the 1770s and settled into small, self-sufficient communities. These settlements eventually extended across New England and into Michigan, Ohio and Kentucky. The Shakers placed a high value on simplicity and humility, and excessive decoration and ornamentation were strongly frowned upon in their society.


These same core values were reflected in the style of furniture they made. With emphasis on functionality, as opposed to visual appearance, the Shaker style became known for its simple, unadorned characteristics, as well as its durability.


This style is quite popular today, as you’ll discover when you shop at Of course, we offer a wide variety of other Amish furniture styles, but our Shaker-style beds, chairs, dressers and nightstands are among our most popular items.


As for Mission, this style is not nearly as old as Shaker, as it originated around the turn of the twentieth century in the United States. Originally made as a critique, of sorts, on the traditional Victorian England style, Mission was based on the stylings of old Spanish missions in California.


Less ostentatious and extravagant than Victorian, and yet more eye-catching than Shaker, Mission style is known today for its remarkable craftsmanship, along with its sturdy appearance. At Amish Crafted Furniture, we offer a large collection of Mission-style pieces, including tables, shelves, benches and dressers.


While the origins of these two styles are quite different, the technical differences between them are also easy to distinguish.


On the one hand, Shaker style can be identified by its tapered, or turned legs, which help keep the furniture lighter. Meanwhile, Mission style boasts a decidedly heavier, stronger appearance, as the legs are usually square (as opposed to tapered or turned).


Mission is also typically made from oak (commonly quarter-sawn white oak), whereas maple is the most popular choice of wood for Shaker.


Thanks to the clearly defined vertical and horizontal lines in the oak, the Mission style sports more of an ornamental, wood-grain look. In addition, Mission style also features exposed joinery, which gives its pieces a more decorative appearance than their Shaker counterparts.  


If you’re on the hunt for an authentic, fine-crafted piece of Amish furniture, there’s a good chance you’ll be taking a hard look at some examples of both Mission and Shaker styles in your search.

Whether you prefer the strong, sturdy look of the Mission style or the functionality and simplicity of the Shaker style, Amish Crafted Furniture offers a wide variety of quality pieces that are sure to make for a wonderful addition to your home or office.


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