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Wednesday, February 8th
Finding beautiful wood furniture for your home is unfortunately easier said than done. Most of the furniture that you find in local stores and online is crafted out of particleboard, laminate and other materials that generally have a relatively short lifespan. These are pieces that may need to be replaced well before you are ready to do so simply because they can quickly start to show signs of their low-grade materials and poor craftsmanship.
The reality is that furniture-making processes and techniques have evolved dramatically over the years, and this evolution has not generally been positive. Now that your attention is focused on finding lovely furnishings to enhance your home's decor, you may want to consider Amish furniture. The Amish employ the same high-quality materials and processes that they have used for generations. These are proven techniques that result in furniture that you could reasonably expect to hand down to future generations. What makes Amish furniture so exceptional?
Particleboard and laminate that are most commonly used in modern wood furnishings are manufactured materials. These are materials that may be produced with high-pressured manufacturing processes, and they are generally weaker and less durable than unprocessed wood materials. The Amish are known for exclusively using natural wood in their products. In fact, you will not find laminate or particle board on any Amish furniture.
Generally, the Amish employ sustainable practices, such as harvesting wood close to their villages. In fact, many Amish craftsmen will specifically select the trees that will be used for their next pieces. They employ an eagle eye to select the best trees that will produce high-grade wood. Because of their sustainable efforts, native trees are selected. The largest Amish communities in the country are located in Pennsylvania and the Midwest. Oak trees are native in this area, so most Amish furnishings that you will find are made out of this wood.
However, other types of wood may also be used. These include hickory, black walnut, maple, cedar, pine, and black cherry. Most of these wood species are hardwoods. This means that they grow slowly over time so that the wood is incredibly durable. Wood furnishings made out of natural hardwoods may easily last a century or more when they are properly taken care of.
While some Amish craftsmen prepare pieces to sell in their local shops, others only create custom pieces that are made to a customer's specifications. This means that you may be able to select everything from the type of wood that is used in your new Amish furniture to its stain color, style, size and more.
The material used to craft Amish furniture is only one of the ways that the furniture stands apart from other options sold today. The Amish are well-known for their exceptional craftsmanship. Many of the furniture pieces that you find in local stores and online today have been mass-produced. The low-grade particle boards may be joined together by nails and screws. Over time, these fasteners may have a looser grip as the particleboards begin to deteriorate. When this happens, the furniture can begin to get wobbly and may feel unstable. Some pieces may even start to fall apart.
Amish furniture is notably unique because the pieces are entirely handcrafted. While Amish craftsmen may use some wood glue to ensure a firm grip and to promote optimal longevity, the joinery techniques they use are far more durable. In fact, nails, screws, and other fasteners are not used in Amish furniture. Instead, the Amish use the same carpentry techniques and tools that their ancestors have used for hundreds of years. This means that you can expect today's Amish furniture to have the same durability as older pieces have.
The most common joinery technique used in Amish furniture when pieces must be attached at or near a 90-degree angle is the mortise and tenon joint. This process involves creating a hole in a furniture piece that another piece can snugly fit in. Another joinery technique used is a dovetail joint. This type of joint has an interlocking feature that is used to secure cabinet and drawer corners together. Tongue and groove joints may also be used. They are comparable to mortise and tenon joints in many ways. The most notable difference is that the joint pieces for a tongue and groove joint are longer. Notably, these joints use no nails and screws, but wood glue may be applied.
Most Amish furniture-making steps are completed using hand tools, but some pneumatic tools may be used if they would enhance the finished project in some way. For example, a band saw may be used to make smoother cuts than could be achieved by hand. A drill press may be used to make more precise holes for the joints. However, many hand tools continue to be used. Woodworking tools like a plane, a saw, a chisel, a wood mallet, an awl and more are commonly used for the majority of the crafting process.
Amish furniture has timeless appeal and is easy to differentiate from other mass-produced pieces, but that does not mean that all Amish furniture is the same. In fact, the overall style of Amish furniture has evolved beautifully over the years without losing its traditional, classic appeal. Older furnishings that you may find as family heirloom pieces have a folksy look that is relatively uncluttered by decorative adornments. This style allows the natural beauty of the wood to shine through. At the same time, the simplicity of the style makes a statement on its own.
The evolution of Amish furniture has trended through Shaker and Mission styles. Notably, both of these styles are defined by smooth, clean lines. They lack unnecessary adornment and frills. Nonetheless, they stand on their own with differentiating techniques. Notably, these are both furniture styles that have been and will continue to be popular for many decades.
Because of the overall exceptional craftsmanship and high-grade materials that are used in Amish furnishings, these are pieces that you can expect to have in your home for a lifetime. In fact, you can expect your new Amish furnishings to last for a century or more, so these pieces are often heirlooms that are passed down from generation to generation. Some furniture that you can purchase in local stores and online today has limited appeal, and their style may become outdated within a decade or less in some cases. Often, these are pieces that you may want to get rid of because the style no longer suits your tastes even if the furniture holds together. The simplicity of Amish designs with their clean lines and lack of period elements makes them pieces that you and your descendants may wish to keep in your home for decades or longer.
While Amish furniture has many common characteristics, keep in mind that each piece is individualized. Because each piece is handcrafted, the maker has left his or her unique mark on the piece in some way. Regardless of the Amish furniture that you select for your home, you are assured that it will be a one-of-a-kind item that you can treasure over the years.
Are you wondering where you can find beautiful Amish furniture for your home? You may find ready-to-buy pieces in some local furniture stores or in Amish villages. Many of these pieces are custom-made, so you may need to get in touch with a craftsman to discuss your needs. While it may require more effort to find the right Amish furnishings for your home, rest assured that the effort will be well-rewarded by the beauty and quality of your new furniture.
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