Amish furniture first gained attention in the 1920s, when early American folk art was "discovered," and dealers and historians placed great value upon the beauty and quality of the pieces.
Because Amish beliefs prevent the use of electricity, many woodworking tools in Amish shops are powered by hydraulic and pneumatic power that is run on diesel compressors. Most communities permit some technology, and allowances can be made in the case of woodworking, as the craft often supports multiple families within the community.
Great attention is paid to the details of the wood in the furniture-making process. Each piece of wood is hand-selected to match the specific furniture in mind. Attention is paid to the grain of the wood, both in gluing pieces together and in achieving the desired look of the finished piece. Amish furniture is also valued for its sustainability and is considered a "green" product. The Amish woodworkers pride themselves in their work and view their products as both pieces of art and furnishings to be used and lived in for generations.
Amish furniture is made in many different styles. The Mission and Shaker styles share a few characteristics. Mission is characterized by straight lines and exposed joinery. It is often considered to be clean and modern in design.An example is pictured below - the Amish made Mission Goshen Trestle Table in Solid Quartersawn Oak.
The Shaker style is plain, yet elegant and has a very simple and basic design aimed at functionality and durability.
The Queen Anne style is in direct contrast to the Mission and Shaker styles. It is considered traditional, with ornate moldings, unique foot details, and carved ornamentation. Other styles include Southwestern, Rustic, Cottage, Country, Quaker, and Beachfront.
Amish furniture making is often a skill passed through many generations. Many families become known for their specific design details and niches. Some woodworkers focus only on outdoor furniture, others on pieces for the living room or bedroom. No piece of furniture is ever identical to another because of the care taken to select the wood. The grain is different on every piece of wood, and the craftsmen often try to highlight the features of each individual piece. Amish furniture is made with a variety of quality hardwoods including northern red oak, quarter-sawn white oak, cherry, maple, beech, elm, mahogany, walnut, hickory, cedar, and pine. Northern red oak is a very popular choice for American consumers for its warmth, color, and durability. It is typically grown in Eastern U.S., particularly in the Appalachian Mountains. White oak is slightly harder than red oak and can be cut to show more ray fleck. The antique look of white oak makes it ideal for Mission and Shaker styles.
Cherry has a light reddish-brown color that will darken with light exposure (Pictured MaRyan 5 Drawer Chest in Character Cherry). Maple wood offers a spectrum of beauty from different angles. It is significantly harder than oak and is growing in popularity because of its beauty. American beech is white with a red tinge and bends readily when steamed. Elm ranges in color from nearly white to brown with a red tinge and is fairly stiff and heavy. Mahogany is typically used in high-class furnishings because of its attractive finish. As mahogany matures its color varies from yellowish or pinkish to deep red or brown. Walnut is heavy, hard, and stiff and ranges in color from nearly white in the sapwood to dark brown in the heartwood. Walnut holds stain, paint, and polish well. Hickory is harder than oak and distinguished by extreme contrasts of light and dark colors. Hickory’s sapwood is a creamy white while hickory’s heartwood is a red, pink or reddish-brown color and often referred to as red hickory. Cedar has a deep rosy glow and stripes of light golden sapwood. Eastern white pine is a soft wood. It tends to have more knots than a hardwood and can yellow with age.
At Oak For Less, we offer beautiful and timeless Amish-made furniture from a variety of Amish makers in Indiana and Illinois Buying Amish made furniture means you can customize many aspects of your furniture - from finish colors to fabrics to hardware styles and if you have more custom needs, from size to shape, we can get a custom quote and build the furniture of your dreams.
The Illinois Amish population is dominated by the Arthur community. The Arthur Amish community is the largest and by far the oldest Amish settlement in Illinois, founded nearly 150 years ago. The Illinois Amish population was nearly 7,000 as of 2010, spread over 19 communities and 49 church districts. The Arthur community was founded in 1864, by Amish from communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa. Arthur is home to a thriving Amish business community, with many Amish operating businesses in wood-related industries. These number in the dozens and employ hundreds of Amish males throughout the community.
Indiana is home to the third-largest Amish population. ‘Swiss’, Swartzentruber, New Order, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania-transplant Amish contribute to the diverse range of Amish groups found in the Hoosier State. Indiana is home to a wide diversity of Amish groups. Many Amish woodworkers reside in the numerous Indiana communities that cover the state from north to south.
Although the Amish may not drive cars or use electricity inside their homes, they offer a wide range of furniture styles that range from classic to contemporary. And no matter the style, you can be confident that all are made with their uncompromising attention to quality.
The main thing to keep in mind is that quality never goes out of style. With that said, be sure to check out the Amish Catalogs at Oak for Less.