The Amish have always understood the fine qualities of wood and its structural versatility. From massive barns to children's toys, their ingenuity in this craft is remarkable.
At House of Oak & Sofas, we present the finest chairs that we have seen—sturdy seats, strong spindles, and wood screws in all major joints. All spindles are custom fit and driven together with mallets so the chairs will stay tight. Most of the furniture comes from Holmes County, Ohio where the world's largest settlement of Amish live.
The Amish furniture shop is usually small with from 5 to 10 workers. Since there is no electricity, the Amish use generators to power mostly air-driven tools. Because the Amish have lived a self-sufficient rural agricultural life, they have built their own barns, homes and furniture. The rule of thumb seemingly has been that the Amish felt they could build their own furniture more economically then they could buy it. We would agree, especially when you factor in the quality of their craftsmanship. Amish usually had timber growing on their farms so they could cut the trees, have the logs sawed at a local sawmill, air dried the boards, and then built their own buildings and furniture.
Needless to say, as the small family farm became less viable and some families converted to full-time furniture production, the production has changed. Now the lumber is often purchased from companies who cut timber and then "lay it up" in to panels precut for the size of the project. The Amish builder then concentrates his energy in designing, shaping, constructing, and finishing the furniture. This specialization of skills has generally lead to a more cost-efficient operation.
The question also arises as to the issue of child labor. Yes, young teenagers do work in the family shops and spend more time working then the average American child. However, we have not witnessed abusive conditions in the workplace in the 14 years that we have been dealing with the Amish builders. Our experience has been that family conditions are comparable to those across America—some families seem to be extremely happy doing what they do and others make it look like it is all work.
A great story we recount concerning this issue regards one Amish builder whom we purchased kitchen furniture from years ago. In that shop his young boys were doing chores at an early age. Today the shop makes exclusively wooden toys and small accessories as the young boys had more interest in this product than they did in main line furniture. One feels more of the master and apprentice type of atmosphere in relation to the children than they do of mistreatment.