How the Amish Became Master Craftsmen in Furniture Making

The Amish people are often ridiculed for the antiquated way they do things.

The reality is their old-school ways have stood the test of time in so many ways.

One area in which the Amish people shine is in the area of craftsmanship, especially woodworking.

The History of Amish Woodworking

As a group, the Amish got their start in the 1600s when a secular group of Anabaptist Christians decided to break off from their religious forefathers in Switzerland. The core reason that they broke off from their church was because of their desire to hold onto their old traditions.

When they immigrated to areas mostly in Pennsylvania, their desire to live as traditionalists was on full display. They tended to settle in areas that were located great distances from the influence of improving technologies from the modern world. Far removed from other parts of modern society, they had to count on their ability to be self-sufficient in every way.

a person using a pencil to cut a piece of wood

While many Amish people became farmers, there were plenty of people who put their woodworking craftsmanship to work. As a communal society, it was their responsibility to provide things like furniture for the community. The woodworkers would use their end products to barter for the other necessities that their families needed.

It's noteworthy that the Amish woodworkers have also traditionally sold certain pieces of furniture like Winchester Gaming tables to poker enthusiasts. Having to compete with the online world and no deposit bonus casinos, it’s nice to know people still appreciate the finer things.

The Techniques of Amish Woodworking

What makes the Amish such great craftsmen is the fact their techniques have been handed down from one generation to the next for centuries. Instead of spending a lot of time in school, it's quite common to see a little Amish boy spending his days standing by his father's side learning their father's craft.

When it comes to woodworking, it's truly an art form for the Amish. Each piece of furniture that comes from an Amish craftsman could easily be considered a work of art. What makes their furniture so unique is the woodworking techniques they employ to make it.

As one might expect, Amish craftsmen will toe the line in terms of following tradition. That's why they have an aversion to using screws and nails when they build things. Let's take a look at some of the woodworking techniques they employ to make beautiful furniture.

Using hand tools

Amish people don't like modern conveniences like electricity. That makes using electric tools nearly impossible. That's not a problem for an Amish craftsman who can handle hand tools like musicians handle their musical instruments.

Almost every Amish shed is filled with hand tools such as assorted saws, chisels, hand planes, and wood scrapers.

Fastening Methodologies

Absent of screws and nails, every woodworker has to find a way to connect two pieces of wood. To do this, Amish craftsmen have learned how to create joints that will hold pieces of wood together. The most common joints used by Amish woodworkers are:

  • Dovetail joints: notches are created in the wood to be held together by interlocking trapezoidal-shaped projections that are called "tails."
  • Tongue-and-Groove joints: The wood is conjoined by using a ridge or protruding tongue on one piece of wood that gets inserted into a groove cut in the other piece of wood.
  • Mortise and tenon joints: wood is held together with a rectangular or mortise slot conjoined with a protruding tenon portion.

Wood forming technique - steam bending


Furniture that's manufactured with nothing but straight lines would be boring. That won't do with Amish woodworkers who take great pride in their creations.

To add a little form to a piece of wood, woodworkers will use a technique called steam bending. This process requires that a piece of wood be subjected to hot steam until it becomes pliable enough to bend and shape.

As the bending and shaping process progresses, the steam is removed until the wood rehardens in the desired shape.

It's simply amazing how elegant Amish artisans can be using this technique.

Creating the finished product

Once a wood craftsman has created the furniture form they want, they go to work putting the finishing touches on their pieces of art. It's these finishing touches that will bring the furniture to life.

Keeping in mind that everything is done by hand, the finishing touches might include hand-carvings, sandpaper shaping, and varnishing/painting/staining.

Sometimes, old school is better than new school. Amish Furniture is world-renowned for its craftsmanship and durability. It's hard to argue with something that has been handed down from one generation to the next while standing the test of time. It says a lot about the techniques that Amish woodworkers use to create their pieces of art. 

Author - Fred Felton
Fred Felton          

Content Creator / Editor

Fred Felton is a copywriter, editor and social media specialist based in Durban, South Africa. He has over 20 years of experience in creating high end content. He has worked with some of the biggest brands in the world. Currently Fred specialises in the wooden arts and crafts space, focussing on innovative wooden product design. He is also a keynote speaker and has presented talks and workshops in South Africa.


Just added to your cart:
Excl. postage 
My Bag
Just added to your wishlist:
Excl. postage 
My Wishlist
You can contact us at or use the live chat feature at the bottom of the website!
Spin to win Spinner icon