Stupid question of the day??? Who makes "handcrafted amish furniture"

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Forum topic by mhein68 posted 03-27-2010 11:23 PM 11299 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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62 posts in 3019 days

03-27-2010 11:23 PM

Topic tags/keywords: shaker amish

Hey all, I have another post about shaker furniture going here:
But Les got me thinking about something that has bothered me for a while and I thought I’d ask.. Who makes the “handcrafted amish furniture” you see for sale? My father-in-law lives in north-west missouri in amish country (around Jamesport Mo) and I visit a showroom there sometimes.. It has attatched work shops with big glass windows. When I’ve been there I havent seen anything in progress or even parts of what they are selling… No templates, heck no hardware… when I was there the last time the ol’ guy was working on church pews and they were no where near as nice as the furniture out front.. My FIL was looking for a kitchen table so he asked to see pictures.. They hand over a very slick,glossy color catalog of “handcrafted amish furniture”...hmm I thought?
Is “handcrafted amish” some kinda joke or is there actual amish somewhere making it? It really shouldnt bother me but if they are going to say “handcrafted” + “amish” shouldnt it be??

-- Mike, Southern IL

17 replies so far

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 3920 days

#1 posted 03-27-2010 11:33 PM

Yeah that “Handcrafted Amish Furniture ” is highly overrated. Now there are some very respectable Amish Crafters but for the most part its just the AMISH name that sells it and all the scallywags are riding on the coattails, and believe me there are PLENTY of them. Some of the places are little more than sweatshops with a bunch of Amish children doing a lot of the work. No payroll and no insurance, imagine Yeah thats been stuck in my craw for a long time

-- mike & judy western md. www.

View davidpettinger's profile


661 posts in 3199 days

#2 posted 03-27-2010 11:39 PM

I know for a fact that Kraftmaid Cabinetry employs the Amish to feed lumber to all their CNC machinery, does that make it “handcrafted Amish furniture”???

-- Methods are many,Principles are few.Methods change often,Principles never do.

View lew's profile


12060 posts in 3754 days

#3 posted 03-27-2010 11:43 PM

Here is south central Pennsylvania, there is an abundance of Amish/Mennonite craftsmen making and selling fine crafted furniture. If you want the real thing- come on over!

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 3891 days

#4 posted 03-28-2010 04:38 AM

I’ve often thought the same thing. I have never been to Amish country, but my parents go to Pennsylvania every year and bring back wood items such as small boxes and chairs. They tend to buy from the same guy out of his workshop. The quality of the craftsmanship is mediocre to say the least. I have always read that Amish woodworking was very high quality, but I don’t see it in the stuff they bring back each year.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

View hazbro's profile


109 posts in 2989 days

#5 posted 03-28-2010 04:49 AM

Chiethan Challen

-- measure once, keep cuttin' til it fits

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3675 days

#6 posted 03-28-2010 05:24 AM

Shouldn’t “handmade Amish” be on the same scale as “Native American”? A friend of mine, now retired, made muzzle loading rifles for at least 25 years, maybe longer. He did a very nice job, but there were a few things that could have been better. You have to remember, turning out hand made and making a living requires phenomenal production and hard work IMO. If it is not displeasing to the eye at first glance, it has to be good enough if you are going to make a living working by hand ;-)

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View pvwoodcrafts's profile


244 posts in 3920 days

#7 posted 03-28-2010 02:30 PM

Thats one thing most people assume. That the Amish do everything with hand tools in an electricity free shop. Truth of the matter is that that is only a very small sect of the Amish, Old Order , that may or may not use all hand tools. Most of the Amish I know have a shop full of every piece of equipment you can think of. A lot of the old order , while they don’t have electricity in their home, and don’t purchase electricity from power suppliers , have generators , which they use in the barn and in their shop. Heck , not to far from here there are some old order that aren’t allowed to have phones in their homes. SO they have a school bus shanty out in the middle of the field with a telephone in it and an answering mach.Quality work is quality work. Doesn’t matter who does it but Amish made will certainly not guarantee it

-- mike & judy western md. www.

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Daren Nelson

767 posts in 3904 days

#8 posted 03-28-2010 03:41 PM

Around here (Amish country) to the locals “Amish made” is a joke when we are talking about furniture. When I say joke I mean we actually joke about it, and the joke is on the people who come from miles around to buy it. All the “Amish furniture outlets” with grandma out front in her bonnet with a jar of apple butter are just slick marketing. The hutches/desks/cribs…are bought in kit form (from China and Mexico) and are assembled mostly by illegal immigrants and child labor. I am not making the labor part up, they get busted all the time. If I where standing in the road with a piece of truly handcrafted furniture from my shop…I would get ran over by someone on their way to one of these outlets to buy “Amish”.

Not that there are not small shops where the Amish are building quality/custom furniture, fewer and fewer everyday though. In this economy they are being run out of business. They do make good quality pieces…so does the retired machinist across town (he’s not Amish) Put 2 pieces they each made side by side, to my trained eye…I could not tell the difference. They used the same tools/techniques/wood…what would make the Amish made one any better ?

As far as being “tooled up”, oh yea I have been in plenty of Amish shops and if it is going to speed production they have it. But they are running a business, so a guy can’t knock them for that. Before I built my own wide drum sander I used to slip my wide slabs in the side door of a local Amish shop to have them sanded.

The real “Amish woodshops” someone coming here looking for their wares could probably not even find them. I have lived here my whole life and don’t know where they all are. The “Amish” furniture stores on the highway with the big parking lot (full of out of state cars) are mostly selling junk, barely a step up from wal-mart.

I will stop with this. Are there some local Amish making quality furniture, yes. Does the plumber who buys lumber from my mill and works in his shop at night for relaxation make the same quality, well yes in his case he does. “Amish” around here is not an automatic seal of superior workmanship. Just another buzz word for marketing. If the customer can’t tell good work, well that is unfortunate. Too bad that buzz word often adds a premium to the price tag, considering everything I just said.

View poopiekat's profile


4355 posts in 3733 days

#9 posted 03-28-2010 04:28 PM

I giggled at the subject line, sorta like that old joke about who’s buried in Grant’s tomb…...but now that I see the great comments, I’ve learned a few things for sure. I had no idea! In my city an “Amish Furniture Outlet” just opened. I’d like to see just how authentic it is, the ads do say it is all solid wood.

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18271 posts in 3675 days

#10 posted 03-28-2010 08:00 PM

poopiekat, does it say handmade?

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 3767 days

#11 posted 03-28-2010 08:26 PM

just remember there is no regulation on what is defined as solid wood… if you use a solid wood veneer you can claim solid wood.

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Les Casteel

160 posts in 3058 days

#12 posted 03-29-2010 12:59 AM

I guess I kinda got this whole thing started but its been eating on me for years. I traveled up the 27 miles to Branson, Mo a few years ago and casually walked into a shop called “Amish Woodshop”. Well, if was full of chinese junk, local crafts and some little glass trinkets. I left and went to another shop called the “Amish Country Store”....same thing except they have jelly. But, they do have buggies out in front of the store. So, I guess its all “marketing” which is another name for….well, I’ll stop there. The worst thing though is when I see “shaker” furniture “built by local Amish craftsmen”, I do a slow burn. Or, the ever famous, “Shaker Coffee Table”.....

I wonder if Shaker’s drank coffee or needed a diminutive four-legged table dedicated to drinking it in front of a sofa that they never had?

-- Les, Missouri,

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3073 days

#13 posted 03-29-2010 03:05 AM

Where I live, handcrafted Amish furniture is the joke many of you have commented on. On the other hand, in the town of Amana (about 25 miles away) they have the Amana furniture company where everything is really handmade by very skilled craftsman. Most of the workbenches have been occupied by the same craftsman for 25 years or more and often a workbench is handed down from father to son.

If you are ever in this area, check it out. Tours are available.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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dan abalos

106 posts in 2982 days

#14 posted 03-29-2010 03:38 AM

Hey all
You’d think the Amish would rise up and stop this madness wouldn’t you? As has been said before I think the quality speaks for itself no matter who made it. Also, what about those Amish made electric fireplace mantles you see ads for in the mags. Do the people who run those ads really think the readers believe that they have this Amish workshop making mantles for cheap, poor quality fireplaces? maybe people are as dumb as we think…hmmmm

-- Beer is the reason I exist on this earth, that and my family! (Aurora, IL) my blog:

View lumberdustjohn's profile


1263 posts in 3165 days

#15 posted 04-23-2010 08:11 PM

Amish furniture hand made is the same as My hand made.
It is built by hand running it through mechanical equipment just as most of us do.
The difference being usually not ran with electricity. A generator or a diesel power unit is used.
And the other difference is they are Amish.
I can’t call my stuff Amish made. And if you ask them they would tell you the same. You can copy what they build but will never be able to call it Amish made.
Solid wood construction with dove tailed drawers are normal.
Getting to wordy I could go on. Maybe another time for a blog.

-- Safety first because someone needs you.

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