Growing up in Ohio, I knew all about the level of quality built around Amish furniture. It was taken for granted that, if you wanted a fine piece of furniture and didn’t know how (or want) to build it yourself, you went to the Amish. When I moved out west to Colorado, I was surprised by not only how little everyone knew about the Amish community but also how the term Amish furniture meant little.
The principles of Amish woodworking, however, remain alive. In fact, by even considering building your own baby furniture, you are embarking on a noble path coveted by millions of people. You are choosing to make something—yourself—that will stand the test of time. Even though you may not be familiar with the tenets of Amish woodworking, you are going to find yourself immersed in them anyway.
What Are Amish Woodworking Principles and How Do They Apply to Building Baby Furniture?
- Quality. As already mentioned, Amish woodworking is synonymous with quality. By using the finest materials that you can afford and maintaining an extreme attention to detail, you will construct high quality baby furniture enjoyed by your child and admired by your friends and family. By selecting the right inputs, you can ensure that your baby furniture does not warp or bend with changing climate conditions. You will end up with a family heirloom that offers strength and stability year after year.
- Expert Hands. Becoming a master woodworker takes years of practice, but over that time, nothing is “wasted”. How can you finish a journey if you never take the first step? Maybe your first woodworking project or your first piece of baby furniture will not be perfect, but if you enjoy the process and continue to learn, your skills will advance. I can guarantee that you will encounter some frustrating situation as a woodworker, but just remember to take a deep breath, keep smiling, and keep going.
- Eye for detail. Do you know how to choose the perfect wood for your woodworking project? Do you know what materials will last for decades and which ones are likely to fail within a few months? Every step of the woodworking process is an opportunity to enhance the beauty of the finished project, maximize utility, and limit waste.
- Attention to the environment. Limiting construction waste is not the only green method used by Amish woodworking principles. Due to a history of large families and limited incomes (now changed in most communities), Amish furniture is meant to be passed down from generation to generation instead of thrown away and replaced. Consequently the furniture costs less over its long lifespan and has a limited negative impact on the environment. By sourcing supplies locally and finishing the furniture with safe, nontoxic stains, the Amish further limit their environmental footprint.
- Multiple uses. Many pieces of Amish furniture are meant to transform as our needs evolve. For example, a convertible baby crib can start out as a baby crib, change into a day bed with additional hardware, end up as a full-sized bed as the child grows, and then even be converted back into a baby crib when the next generation comes along. Another cute example of convertible baby furniture is a high chair that changes into a rocking horse and then into a writing desk. The interchangeable furniture pieces give you an added bonus—space savings because you are storing one item instead of several.
- Sense of community. Arguably the most important aspect of Amish woodworking is the sense of community. The Amish are known for living within tight-knit communities. By building your own baby furniture, you have the opportunity to bring together family and friends for a remarkable experience. Involve them with building the baby furniture, involve them with raising the child, and continue to strengthen your bonds with the wonderful people around you. By applying Amish woodworking techniques, you are not only constructing fine, quality baby furniture but also passing along the communal spirit. These powerful, well-meaning intentions can only originate from making something with your own hands.