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Amish Furniture Construction Methods

Amish furniture has experienced an explosion in popularity over the last few decades, doubtless due to the poor construction methods employed by the major mass production furniture companies. Everyone has to have Amish furniture these days! And yet, with all that popularity, Amish furniture construction methods remain a bit mysterious. How exactly do the Amish do it?

OnAm_lamp-828982_1920 The beauty of American hardwood.

Amish furniture construction methods are integrated into a larger philosophy on furniture and craftsmanship as a whole. With their values and their direct connection to the land, the Amish understand that natural American hardwoods are our best resource when it comes to furniture. But the Amish know more than that. They know that wood must be properly cut, properly dried (stabilized around 6% moisture content), and properly matched to the role it will have in the finished piece of furniture. All of that, before construction even begins!

Amish furniture construction methods depend on proper wood selection. With wood that is still green (not fully dried), the highest quality furniture would still crack or deform after 1-2 years in service. As the wood continues to stabilize in moisture content, it actually changes size and shape. That means that precise joinery, like mortise-and-tenon joints and dovetail joints, would lose their perfect fit. Fully dried wood really is the foundation of long-lasting Amish furniture.

Of course, every piece from Online Amish Furniture is built with wood that has been properly dried and stabilized. That means that our wood is ready to play its part in the carefully-designed structure of a typical Amish furniture piece.

Stanley jointer plane, courtesy of Luigi Zanasi. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Share Alike. Stanley jointer plane, courtesy of Luigi Zanasi. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0 Share Alike.

So, what about that structure? How do they produce those perfect fits and those smooth-as-glass surfaces? You might be surprised—these beautiful features are largely the product of hand tools. Our expert craftsmen use jack planes, jointer planes, and smoothing planes to control the final shape of every bit of wood in your furniture. Where mass-produced furniture often relies on staples and nails to support critical joints, Amish furniture uses actual joinery techniques that have been practiced for hundreds of years. A mortise-and-tenon joint, for example, involves a protruding piece of wood that fits precisely into a pocket in another piece of wood. A dovetail joint is even more complex, with keystone-shaped tongues that fit precisely into matching slots. These joints are virtually unbreakable.

Dovetail joint, courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman. Public domain. Dovetail joint, courtesy of Pearson Scott Foresman. Public domain.

The hardwoods used in Amish furniture are Nature’s gift to craftsmen. With the proper sanding, staining, and finishing, these woods are simply breathtaking. Amish craftsmen really do work alongside Nature, preserving the best of its offerings and enhancing its beauty and durability.

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