A Brief History of Amish Furniture

Curious about the history of Amish woodworking and carpentry? The beauty of Amish wood furniture is no new discovery; their woodworking traditions date back centuries. Read on to learn about the roots of Amish wood furniture and the ways in which it has changed – and remained much the same.

Understanding Amish Culture

The Amish date back to the 1600s, when a group of Anabaptist Christians in Switzerland broke off from their church. In the 19th century, many Amish immigrated to Pennsylvania, where they settled in townships far removed from the technology and industry of the modern world. Core Amish values, such as tradition, self-sufficiency, and community, translated into their craftsmanship and carpentry.

Techniques and Traditions

Because the Amish of that time tended to avoid using nails and screws, the way they build furniture is inherently unique. For example, they utilize beautiful dovetail joints to connect two pieces of wood together. Another hallmark of Amish woodworking is the way that techniques and traditions are maintained. The Amish community tends to place value on manual labor, rather than formal schooling, so many children are working in their family’s workshop by the time that they reach adolescence. Each generation learns the family trade and traditions and passes them on to future generations.

Schools of Amish Furniture Making

Within the realm of Amish furniture making, different schools began to crop up. Each school was known for a different specialization and style. For example, the Soap Hollow School was known for pieces painted in the colors of gold, black, and red. In contrast, the Jonestown School was known for its famous blanket chests painted with flowers. Furniture maker, Henry Lapp, was a pioneer of Amish furniture as we now know it: humble, plain, and natural. Before Lapp, Amish furniture tended toward a Germanic style.

Mainstream Attention in the 21st Century

With the American Modernist movement of the 1920s, American folk art was suddenly in vogue. Amish woodworking became a particular focal point for art historians, dealers, and critics. The aesthetic appeal of Amish woodworking was undeniable and obvious: clean, straight lines and a constant, pervasive theme of modest minimalism. Shortly thereafter, Amish wood furniture was nationally renowned.

Fast-forward to the present, when the high-quality craftsmanship of Amish furniture from shops like The Amish Connection is more desirable than ever before. As factory-made, mass-produced pieces dominate the majority of American houses, handmade wood furniture brings a loving, human touch to our homes. Browse our website today or stop into our store to feel the peace and comfort real wood can bring into your household for generations to come.