Common Wood Types Used in Amish Furniture
There is no doubt about it. Furniture and home furnishings are big business in America. As the economy continues to recover, people are spending an increasing amount on furniture, lighting and home décor. In 2012, retail sales in this market sector reached $80.19 billion across the country. The following year, the amount Americans spent in the same category of goods grew by almost 21 percent, reaching a total of $101.41 billion. Baby Boomers, meaning people who are currently between the ages of 48 and 66, account for 42 percent of the nation’s furniture buyers. Consumers born between 1946-1964 also contribute 45 percent of the money that is spent on furniture throughout the country.
According to a report entitled “Consumer Attitudes and Buying Behavior for Home Furniture” prepared for the Franklin Furniture Institute and the Furniture Outreach Program, consumers approach buying furniture differently from their more routine, less expensive purchases. While regular purchases are made without much thought, consumers often consider their furniture to be a reflection of themselves. This common outlook makes buying furniture an emotional process that normally takes more time and involves more methodical consideration as people move through the decision-making process.
In general, the furniture-buying process begins when a consumer experiences a significant life event such as getting married, buying a house, having a child, downsizing a home or a child leaving home. Since the purchase of furniture normally follows a meaningful, life-changing event, buying furniture often involves more than one member of a person’s household. Approximately 71.6 percent of married consumers discuss a furniture purchase with their husband or wife prior to buying a given piece of furniture. Just over 37 percent of shoppers are influenced by their kids when it comes to buying furniture. About 75 percent of consumers examine the needs of their whole family when they start to think about buying new furniture.
While the opinions and needs of family members are typically considered by consumers during the furniture-buying process, other factors also influence their purchasing decisions. According to research published by Furniture/Today, 91 percent of shoppers feel that quality and durability are key considerations when they’re looking for a new piece of furniture such as a sofa. A piece of furniture’s price, color and style also influence the buying decision for more than 80 percent of consumers.
Individual consumers aren’t the only ones who view quality and durability as important features of the furniture they buy. A research paper prepared for the USDA Forest Service revealed that quality, appearance and price are the three leading factors considered by large corporations and universities when they shop for furniture. The planned use of the furniture as well as its general look are critical factors for corporations and universities that are shopping specifically for wooden furniture.
In 2000, commercial production of household furniture had an estimated value of $25.6 billion. The production of wooden furniture was responsible for 48 percent of that overall value, or $12.1 billion of the total. Wooden furniture continues to be popular among consumers today, with 42 percent of American consumers believing it is very important to have hardwood furniture in their residences.
Just as many consumers still seek out wooden furniture for their homes, shoppers are increasingly looking for Amish furniture. Multiple reasons are driving this trend, including the increased availability of genuine Amish furniture on the internet. While the craftsmen who make Amish furniture cannot operate a website to sell their goods due to their beliefs, they can establish a relationship with a third party who will sell their furniture over the internet for them.
Before the proliferation of the internet, it was much more difficult for consumers to buy furniture made by Amish artisans. Until relatively recently, Amish furniture was largely reserved for people who lived near an Amish community and those who visited these locations. Thanks to the internet, Amish furniture is now available to people located all over the country.
The Advantages of Amish Furniture
In addition to its increased availability, consumers are drawn to Amish furniture because of the advantages it provides. The biggest advantage Amish furniture provides is that it satisfies the need for quality and durability many furniture shoppers have. As a general rule, Amish furniture is made using high quality-materials with the intention of crafting furniture that will last for generations.
The additional benefits of Amish furniture include the following:
- Unique Look: Every piece of Amish furniture is genuinely unique. Since no two pieces of wood have exactly the same grain, every piece of Amish furniture has its own custom markings. Every piece of wood that is used to make a piece of Amish furniture is hand-selected by the craftsman making the piece to ensure the end product has a desirable, aesthetically pleasing look that is like no other. When you buy a piece of Amish furniture, you are truly buying the only one of that exact item that exists in the world.
- Saves Money: Depending on your preferences, you may want your Amish furniture to be stained or painted when you first purchase it. As your tastes change over the years, you can save money by stripping and re-staining your Amish furniture. Instead of spending thousands of dollars on new furniture, you can give your furniture and living space a brand new look for just the cost of some paint or stain and a paint brush or two.
- Eco-Friendly: Compared to other materials that may have carcinogenic substances in them, the wood used to make Amish furniture is all natural and carcinogen-free. Because Amish furniture is so durable and you can typically keep it much longer than furniture that is mass-produced, you’ll be less likely to throw out your Amish furniture after just a few years. This means there will be less discarded material in your local landfill. If you’re handy, you can always repurpose the wood from your Amish furniture for another project if you get tired of your furniture in the future, which will also help to keep waste to a minimum.
Different Types of Wood Used in Amish Furniture
The solid wood types used in Amish furniture can be broken down into two separate categories: hardwoods and softwoods. A hardwood comes from a tree that has broad leaves and no needles. Maple, cherry, walnut and mahogany trees are all examples of hardwood trees. Hardwoods are typically stronger and more stable than softwoods are.
Evergreen trees that have needles produce softwoods. Softwoods come from pine, spruce, redwood and cedar trees. Softwoods are often the material of choice for projects that require a lot of detailed carving. As their name implies, softwoods are softer than hardwoods, which makes them more vulnerable to dings or marks due to wear and tear. While this may be a deterrent for some consumers, it’s this very quality that gives many pieces crafted from softwoods a desirable, weathered look over time.
Now that you’re familiar with the broad categories of solid wood used to create Amish furniture, you’re probably curious about the specific kinds of wood Amish craftsmen use to make their home furnishings. Amish artisans select the wood they’re going to use to make a piece of furniture with great care.
They consider many things when they’re hand-picking the wood they’re going to use. They examine more than just how a piece of wood will look in the context of their overall design. They also consider how well the material will hold up to the rigors of daily life and the wear and tear that may become apparent if a home has kids and pets. They think about how well a given type of wood will absorb stain or paint as well. They consider how strong, pliable and heavy the wood is, too, to ensure it’s appropriate for the furniture they’re going to make.
Some of the most common wood types for Amish furniture are as follows.
Oak is generally the most popular kind of wood used to craft finer, more durable pieces of furniture. Oak trees grow slowly, which enables them to yield dense, long-lasting wood. Oak wood is renowned for being resistant to scratches, stains and dust, which means it doesn’t have to be cleaned as often as furniture made from many other kinds of wood. Well-built furniture made from oak can last for more than a century, which means the Amish furniture you buy today may end up being treasured heirlooms your family will enjoy from generation to generation.
The following two kinds of oak are among the most common solid wood types in Amish furniture:
- Red Oak: Also known as “black oak,” red oak varies in color from cream to a warm brown. No matter what kind of tone red oak has, the wood will have characteristic reddish streaks running through it. Given its durability, red oak is often used to make cabinets, flooring and furniture for the living room and bedroom. It is also used to make kitchen furniture that’s used every day such as tables and chairs.
- White Oak: Like red oak, white oak can be stained with ease. In its natural state, white oak has a modestly greenish color running through it. Even harder than red oak, white oak holds water quite well, which is why it has historically been used to make barrels and ships. In fact, the hull of America’s oldest commissioned naval vessel, USS Constitution or “Old Ironsides,” was constructed using this kind of wood. When used to make furniture, white oak is quarter-sawn to reduce cupping, splitting and shrinkage. This technique also highlights the wood’s eye-catching medullary ray fleck. Many people think white oak has a natural antique look.
Cherry wood has a moderate density, which makes it easier to work with than red and white oak. Also known as “fruitwood,” cherry has a fine, smooth texture, close, circular grains and a pink undertone interlaced with rosy-brown tones. As cherry ages and is exposed to sunlight, the wood’s color darkens just like the color of mahogany. For this reason, American colonists often referred to cherry wood as “New England Mahogany.” Cherry is easy to carve and polish, making it a popular material for Amish furniture makers. Given its strength, visual appeal and resistance to warping, cherry is often used to make bedroom, living room and office furniture.
- Rustic Cherry: Rustic cherry wood is a less refined-looking cherry wood that is used for many of the same purposes as traditional cherry. This wood showcases the natural pits and knots that run through it. Rustic cherry comes in several colors, including white, brown and deep red. If you decide to buy Amish furniture made with this kind of wood, you will enjoy a casual, rustic feel in your home that is both elegant enough for dinner for two and practical enough for family dinners and get-togethers.
Hickory is one of the strongest, heaviest and hardest woods available in North America. It’s easily identifiable by its intense, natural contrasts of dark and light colors. Hickory’s dramatic look and strength make it ideal for kitchen tables and chairs, desks, bedroom suites and living room furniture such as couches. Like red and white oak, hickory is easy to stain to give it an even more dramatic appearance. Unlike other woods that break when they’re under too much pressure, hickory’s unique elastic qualities enable it to bend under force and remain intact.
Like hickory, brown maple is easy to spot because of its unique natural colors. Brown maple typically has streaks of brown, gray, tan, white and cream running through it. Although this softer wood is vulnerable to dents and scratches, its strength and durability make it a great choice for bed frames, chairs and dining room and kitchen tables. This type of wood handles stains and painted finishes wonderfully. Often, a darker stain is used on brown maple wood to prevent its natural color combination from being too obvious. Brown maple can be refinished easily so it looks like more expensive hardwoods such as walnut or cherry.
While the woods listed above are among the most common wood types for Amish furniture, they’re not the only ones used to make the long-lasting, high-quality furniture produced by Amish artisans. Additional types of wood that are commonly used to make Amish furniture include beech, elm, walnut, cedar and pine.
Types of Wood for Amish Furniture by Region
Depending on where an Amish community is located, certain types of wood may be more accessible and therefore used more often to make furniture than other kinds of wood. Here is a list of the most common solid wood types by region, which may provide an idea of the type of wood an Amish furniture maker located in a certain part of the country may use:
- Oak: Oak wood is derived from deciduous and evergreen trees that grow in the United States, Canada and Europe. Red oak grows in the eastern United States and thrives particularly well in the Appalachian Mountains. White oak trees can live for several centuries, and you can find them in states located east of the Mississippi River, including Maine, Minnesota, Georgia and Texas, among others.
- Cherry: Black cherry trees grow in Canada and Central America, while European cherry wood is used predominantly in Europe and southeast Asia. While cherry trees can be found along the east coast of the United States, American black cherry trees are more prominent in New York and Pennsylvania.
- Hickory: Hickory trees can be spotted throughout the eastern part of the United States, including the state of Pennsylvania. This hearty tree also grows well in certain parts of Canada and Mexico.
- Maple: Similar to many of the other types of trees that are harvested to make Amish furniture, maple trees grow in abundance on the eastern coast of the United States.
The Benefits of Shopping at AmishOutletStore.com
While you have many options when it comes to buying furniture, shopping at AmishOutletStore.com provides benefits many physical retailers simply can’t. When you shop with us, you’ll enjoy the personal attention you get. Operated in Smithville, OH near the center of Amish country, AmishOutletStore.com is perfectly positioned to help you pick the Amish furniture your family will love for years, decades and generations to come.
Everyone knows that for many consumers, their household furniture is their second most valuable asset when considered as a whole, after their home. That’s why we are dedicated to helping you find the right pieces of furniture to create the look and feel you want your home to have. Our commitment to help you create a truly personalized living space runs so deep, we give you the chance to customize the furniture you want right on our website. If the options listed on our website don’t give you the variety of choices you’re looking for, you can contact us and we’ll provide even more customization options.
Whether you want to customize a piece of furniture or you’re going to buy one of the hand-crafted pieces we have at our location, you’ll know your furniture is truly unique given the way it was made and the materials used to make it. Every piece of furniture we sell is hand-made by Amish craftsmen who use construction techniques that have been passed down through generations of skilled furniture makers.
All of our furniture is constructed with kiln-dried, solid hardwoods to ensure it’s of the highest quality and will last a long time. Unless it’s part of our Rustic Furniture Section, our furniture is made using solid oak. If you prefer the look of cherry wood, most of our pieces are available in that kind of wood as an option. Our furniture is never made with particle board, pressboard or masonite-type materials.
As the proud sellers of hand-crafted Amish furniture made in America, we care about the people who make the items we have the privilege to sell. By selling long-lasting, timeless Amish furniture to the public, we’re able to lend support to our neighbors living in Amish country and help them preserve their way of life for their children and grandchildren to enjoy.
We also care about our clients and do everything possible at all times to exceed your expectations. That’s why we offer a discount of up to 33 percent when you buy genuine Amish furniture from us. It’s also why we offer you the chance to sign up for our free electronic newsletter so you can stay on top of the products we have for sale, learn about the latest developments involving our company and industry, and get some helpful hints about how you can keep your Amish furniture looking like new.
If you’d like to learn more about our furniture or how it’s made, we encourage you to contact us. If you’ve already found a piece or suite of furniture that you’re interested in, you can get a custom quote quickly by giving us a call, sending us an email or using our website. We look forward to helping you select Amish furniture that’s as breathtaking as it is practical whenever you’re ready to make an addition to your current furnishings. If you’re going to refurnish your home entirely, contact us today to see how we can help you get the Amish furniture you’ve always wanted. Give us a call today.