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The Elegance Of Amish Oak Furniture

Sunday, January 7th, 2018

Submitted by: Sarah Gilbert

Historically, when the first Amish arrived in the United States, they settled in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. As populations grew, settlements spread and there are now major settlements in Holmes and adjoining counties in northeast Ohio, and in Elkhart and nearby counties in northeastern Indiana. The forests that surround this communities are abundant with White and Red Oak, as well as Cherry, Maple, Hickory, and Black Walnut. Building on a tradition of self-sufficiency, the Amish took full advantage of the bounty of wood surrounding them to build their own furniture.

Over the course of the past century, the primary Amish occupation of farming has been increasingly supplemented by woodworking. In the beginning, Amish furniture was only publicly available through direct purchase from an Amish shop or nearby retailer. But now Amish woodworkers cooperate with English businessmen who distribute their goods worldwide via the Internet and we can all enjoy the beauty of Amish craftsmanship in our own homes. The wood is first plain sawn or quartersawn, either in an English or Amish mill. Not only is the plain-sawn technique faster, but it produces a wide and long open grain effect, accented by long dark lines that reveal the growth rings. Since they are rough to the touch, these growth rings lines create a wonderfully textured surface. Generally, most dining tables are constructed from plain-sawn oak. Quartersawn oak, on the other hand, is preferred by Amish furniture makers for its gorgeous rayflake grain designs. It s also really resistant to the effects of atmospheric moisture. When cut this way, white oak is very durable. If properly finished, it will not likely rot, decay, cup, twist, or crack.

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However, the quartersawn milling technique is extremely labor intensive. First, the entire log is cut lengthwise into quarter rounds. The quarter rounds are then cut perpendicular to the growth rings, rotating the length 90 degrees back and forth with each cut. The end result is a feathered or furry grain both beautiful and strong. This process has been made easier by the recent use of diesel generators, which are an allowed form of electricity because the Amish retain control of the power source.

Once the wood is processed, the Amish craftsman carefully chooses the perfect piece of lumber from the mill offerings for each piece of furniture. Using his eye for design, he will select pieces that complement each other to create a lasting masterpiece for any home. Generations-old techniques are employed in the construction of each custom piece. For drawers, dovetail joints are used, and slats and support pieces are joined in the mortise and tenon fashion. Each piece is finished with exceptional care, following multiple sanding and finish-application steps. When an Amish piece of furniture is properly cared for, it will retain its original finish for a lifetime.

contrast to the traditional methods employed by Amish craftsmen in their solid wood furniture construction, mass-produced furniture imported from overseas is usually made of particle board and veneer. Be sure to carefully inspect any prospective furniture; there are many of these imitation Amish-style furniture items on the market, and you want to get what you ve paid for. When you purchase a genuine Amish furniture piece, you are making an investment that will grace your home for generations.

About the Author: Sarah Gilbert writes for and is currently remodeling her 1920’s Craftsman home. To learn more about

Amish oak furniture

or home improvement and interior design in general you can visit her blog at


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