By Kevin Williams
Ha! Fun to revisit old posts. This first appeared on Amish365 back in 2012. I was prompted to write the original post by an ad that had appeared in my Sunday paper (sheesh, I rarely even look at the Sunday paper anymore). Here is the ad text:
Whether it's a 400-pound pony - or just pants and sweaters -you can feel confident that Daniel's Amish Furniture is built to last. Inside every piece you will be inspired by both beauty and craftsmanship we've spent generations to develop. The hardwoods we use are carefully harvested in the hill country of Ohio - then graded, cured, selected, and finally handcrafted into beautiful heirloom furniture. And with over 10 collections to choose from Daniel's Amish has a wide variety of styles to satisfy even the most discriminating buyer.
From the first saw cut to the seven step finishing process - - all Daniel's Amish furniture is made right here in America and you can feel confident that it will hold up to the test of time - and give your family years of use and enjoyment.
Fare Thee Well,
The ad was for a local furniture store chain. First of all, disclaimer: I've not been to Furniture Fair to see the stuff, I know nothing about the furniture's origins...each piece may be hand-made by Daniel himself and brought to Furniture Fair. Although the "400 pound pony" pictured standing in the drawing in the ad is a little cheesy. I am more interested in discussing the larger question of what constitutes "Amish" furniture? My neighbor's ex-husband was in the wood-working and furniture business once and she lamented how he had to competed against "Amish furniture" makers who used the same power tools and equipment that her husband used. Sometimes Amish are permitted to use certain modern conveniences for "business purposes", of which that would qualify. As with "Amish" food, in addition to selling a product, they are also selling a way of life and an ambiance. When an enterprise gets to be too large a scale, I don't think you could help but lose some of that Amish ambiance.
UPDATE: Interestingly back in 2012, Daniel's Amish Furniture was just taking off and it continues to sell well to this day. But, coincidentally, our Amish Cook columnist's husband is also named Daniel Yoder and makes furniture. Now I can vouch for THAT Daniel Yoder. He makes wonderful rustic pieces.
I know where I am going to go if I ever want to buy "Amish" furniture. There's an Amish settlement up in Hardin County, Ohio (and there are plenty of other examples like this) where a father and son duo have part of their barn converted into a small furniture showroom, and the back half is their workshop. Beautiful bed-frames, bureaus, desks, magazine racks, etc are all hand-made and custom-made right there on the premises. It's that type of craftsmanship and product that has made the Amish name so sought after on furniture. Or if I want rustic, I'll go to Gloria's husband. Here is a video of that tiny furniture store in Hardin County.