How Amish Furniture is Made and How to Tell It’s Authentic

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Amish furniture is growing increasingly popular, and it’s easy to understand why. Known for their durability and longevity, Amish furniture is carefully handcrafted, solid wood pieces that can last for generations if properly cared for throughout the years. While people might know the basics of its manufacture, though, they may not know the details.

This isn’t too surprising considering people’s general ignorance of the Amish overall. For most, Amish furniture making probably seems like a mix between the Keebler elves and communal barn raisings. The truth, of course, is much less fanciful and far more practical.

A Tree Grows, but Not in Brooklyn

Naturally, Amish dining room furniture, much like any Amish piece, starts with the wood itself. Amish furniture is made from sustainably harvested forests, ensuring over-harvesting or deforestation is not a concern.

The wood itself is not treated or made with chemicals and products like particle boards that might release toxins over time. This makes the pieces safer and more ecologically friendly.

The Amish are well known for eschewing modern technology in favour of a lifestyle similar to what people experienced when the Amish first settled America in the early eighteenth century.

While the truth is much more complicated, Amish furniture is made with hand tools, and usually fitted into creation through expertise and skilled craftsmanship.

That means if the furniture is claiming to be authentic Amish work, but has nails, veneers, or is made from particle board or other non-solid pieces, it is almost certainly a fake. While you can rest assured products purchased from are the genuine article, secondary markets may be misinformed or downright deceitful to boost sales and prices.

The wood itself can also help be an indicator. The Amish tend not to travel very far, so the wood they used is not only sustainably harvested, but it’s also locally found. For example, Appalachian Amish tend to use oak, while other areas would use local woods such as white oak or cherry. While less helpful when buying online, knowing the wood such pieces are made with can help determine authenticity.

As previously noted, Amish furniture is made with old-style hand tools, with the pieces fitted together by hand. If a piece has modern bits or bobs in its construction or looks to be made with composite components, it is very likely not genuine Amish furniture.

Even how the wood was cut can be a sign of authentic Amish furniture, thanks to the commitment to traditional manufacturing styles. Quarter-sawn or plain-sawn ends are excellent indicators of hand-crafted quality. While this does not guarantee Amish-made furniture, it is an excellent sign that the furniture is a quality piece.

Modern tooling may not be immediately noticeable for people who aren’t involved in a lot of woodworking, which is fair. Some research may be required to help determine the differences. That said, there are a lot of potential indicators for authentic Amish furniture, so not being able to tell saw edges isn’t the end of the world.

Trusted Sources

Besides sustainable solid wood, knowing the source of the furniture can also help to determine if the pieces are authentic. Direct from the source is always a good way to tell, but it’s not always viable to head out to Amish country. While they do tend to travel to sell their wares, it can be tricky knowing where.

Fortunately, there is the internet. Unfortunately, there is the internet. Trusted websites like those previously mentioned are excellent starts. When shopping for authentic Amish furniture, look at product and company reviews.

Reviews praising the quality and handcrafted workmanship are good signs. Reviews that lament how cheap looking the piece is, or mention additions like veneers or nails, are major red flags that the furniture is not authentic Amish work.

Some sites are naturally easier to trust than others. Previously linked sites are excellent starts to buying directly from the source through the power of the internet. Most other retailers will be proud to display authentic Amish furniture as well.

Most fakes or ignorance are likely to show up on the secondary market. A misinformed consignment store or garage seller may believe a piece is Amish because they were told so and either lacked the information, to tell the truth or are lying to try and get a better deal.

Whether from a store or an individual, knowing what separates Amish furniture from other pieces is important not just for determining authenticity, but for being better able to appreciate the quality and craftsmanship that goes into Amish pieces.

Main points to remember

It’s not just online sources you should make sure are trustworthy, either. In the modern age, people may well take advantage of secondary or off-brand markets to try and deceive sellers. Again, this is more likely in the secondary market, in person just as well as online.

For example, in an area with a large Amish population, some people may purchase decent quality furniture locally or regionally made, and try to sell it as Amish to take advantage of people’s knowledge of the region’s population, but are ignorant of the furniture itself. Such antics are naturally rare, but it is worth keeping in mind.

Online or in person, knowing what makes Amish furniture stand out is vital to determining if it’s authentic. Hand-sawn, solid wood, lack of veneers, and limited production are all excellent indications of Amish work.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the furniture’s source, research reviews of the items for sale and the site itself, and be wary when buying online.

With the right knowledge and research, determining if furniture advertised as Amish is actually Amish or not can be done. That research might take some time, but it sure beats buying a fake.

Amish pieces are made to last, after all, so there’s nothing wrong with making sure the piece you buy can be kept for generations. With the right know-how and tools, authentic Amish furniture can be in your family for a long, long time.

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