Is Amish furniture really solid wood? Is there plywood in Amish furniture? We’ll fill you in on all the details. Read on and we’ll explain.
Is Amish Furniture Really Solid Wood?
What do we mean by “solid wood?”
Dozens of wood-based materials are used to make furniture. But the term “solid wood” refers to just two products: full planks cut from a tree (or full logs cut from a tree) and wood boards.
Materials in Amish furniture
Amish furniture is primarily made of solid hardwood boards. This lumber is typically delivered to Amish wood shops as long boards of Oak, Cherry, Maple, and Walnut—exactly what you’d expect to see in a lumberyard.
Constructing Amish furniture
In the woodshop, these boards are glued together into panels to become tabletops or drawer fronts. Or cut and shaped into table legs or frames for all sorts of furniture.
Is Plywood in Amish Furniture?
You won’t find veneers, particle board, or other low-cost wood alternatives on Amish furniture. However, you may find plywood. And there’s a good reason for that.
So, why is there plywood in Amish furniture?
Wood is a natural material that expands and contracts in response to its environment. It will absorb moisture and expand in a humid climate and release moisture and shrink in a dry climate.
Lumber is cut so that wood fibers run the length of a board and the wood expands and shrinks across its width. While the movements are small and happen over time, they can eventually contribute enough strain for a crack to form.
For this reason, in some situations, plywood is actually more beneficial than solid wood.
Plywood in drawer boxes
Let’s look at a drawer box, for example.
Amish furniture drawer boxes are built with solid wood frames and durable dovetailed joints. If a piece of solid wood were added to the bottom as well, it could push outward on the box when its expands and strain the joints, possibly even cracking the furniture. So that’s where plywood comes in.
How is plywood made?
Plywood is made by shaving thin layers of solid wood and stacking them, with each layer facing a different direction from the one below it. The thin layers and alternating alignment mean that plywood won’t expand and contract.
Plywood in Amish Furniture
So, the solid wood frame of the drawer box is more durable because of the selective use of plywood in the drawer box bottom.
Amish woodworkers use plywood in the same wood species as the piece of furniture they are building and stained to match.
And it’s typically strong, 1/4-inch or even 1/2-inch plywood for their furniture. In fact, our Millcraft Bedroom Collection’s 1/2-inch plywood drawer boxes can withstand quite a beating. Don’t try this at home.
Constructing Furniture That’s Made to Last
So, yes. Amish furniture is made of solid wood. And you may find the occasional plywood pieces in your solid wood furniture: in drawer boxes, bookshelves, and the backs of hutches and other storage pieces…not to cheapen your product, but to improve its strength and durability for years to come.
Thanks for watching and get in touch with us if you have any more questions about Amish and solid wood furniture.