Amish furniture has long been known for its quality. Compared to modern furniture, Amish pieces tend to last a lot longer due to the quality of materials used and the labor put into each piece. Their techniques have been passed down through the generations, and refined and mastered over time. Connecting two pieces of wood together isn’t as simple as it sounds; woodworkers do this using techniques called joinery. Here are some of the most common types of joinery used by the Amish.
Lap joints are some of the simplest types of joinery. The builder simply lays one piece of wood on top of the other. To strengthen the joint, they use some wood glue to create a bond stronger than the wood itself.
Halving Laps vs. Full Laps: Lap joints come in two different flavors. Some of them don’t remove any of the wood. These are called full joints, and they’ll double the width of the final result. Whenever a woodworker removes half of each piece, the end result is a half lap. These preserve the dimensions of the original piece.
Bridle joints require cutting a tenon into one piece of wood. This slips down into the slot on another. You’ll find this style of joinery on framing. It is relatively strong, and it’s not too difficult to make.
Corner Joints vs. T Joints: Bridle joints can be found in two general styles. At the corner of a piece, it’ll be called a corner joint. T joints let the wood extend on both sides of where it’s joined.
Dowels are small wooden rods. They’ve been used to strengthen joints for a long time. Amish woodworkers use them whenever they have a piece that needs added strength. A small hole is bored into both pieces that the builder intends to join. Then, they insert a small dowel into one of the holes. Once that piece is pushed into the other piece’s hole, the end result is a dowel joint.
Box joints got their name because of how often you’ll find them on wooden chests. Basically, the builder cuts two sets of teeth into the pieces that need to be joined. These sets need to be analogous to each other. That way, they’ll interlock once they’re pushed together.
Dado joints have often been called troughs by laymen. That’s because these joints require a trench to be cut into one of the pieces. The other piece of wood will then be slid into it. In an expertly-crafted Dado joint, the trench is cut exactly as wide as the piece it is joined with. Most commonly, you’ll see this style of joinery at the base of cabinetry.
Butt joints are among the simplest types of joinery still in use. It simply involves putting one end of a piece next to another. Then, the builder uses some wood glue to keep them in place. While it is rather simple, there is a downside. These joints tend to be relatively weak when compared to other techniques, limiting their use to pieces that don’t need to bear too much weight.
Amish Joinery Techniques and How They Are Used
These are just a few of the many techniques employed by the Amish. They’ve been building furniture for hundreds of years, and they’ve mastered the craft over that time. Today, Amish furniture still tends to outlast modern pieces. Part of that is thanks to their time-tested joinery.