“Where does all the lumber come from to build so much Amish-made furniture in Ohio?” is a question Chris Tuttle, owner of the Amish Oak Furniture Co is often asked. “Almost all of the lumber used to build our furniture is harvested right here in Ohio”, says Tuttle. He goes on to explain that across all of North America, the annual hardwood growth rate surpasses harvest rate by 70%.* He also relates that according to the American Hardwood Export Council, there is enough red oak growing in the USA to make a table and four chairs every quarter second, and that the volume of US hardwood rowing stock increases at a rate of 139 cubic feet per second. That’s a semi load of dry lumber every 14 seconds!
Over the years, our forests and woodlots have come to be carefully and sustainably managed so that they will continue to be able to provide lumber for furniture and other industries. A surprising amount of lumber in Ohio comes from small, privately owned woodlands, where select cutting is practiced, which keeps the woodlots healthy and productive. Ohio woodlands are so productive that lumber has become a significant export product for Ohio and other parts of North America. “Much of our walnut, and a lot of oak lumber harvested in Ohio is exported to Europe, Japan and even China”, says Tuttle.
When you purchase locally made furniture at the Amish Oak Furniture Company you can feel good about the very low ‘carbon footprint’ that comes with locally made furniture, made from locally harvested hardwoods. Similar to farm fresh food programs, you’re purchasing furniture that was locally ‘raised’ and produced, which is good for our environment. And the hand-crafted hardwood furniture you get will not wind up in a landfill , but can be passed on to future generations to use and enjoy.
*American Hardwood Export Council
Whether you’re looking for one piece of furniture to complete one room in your house, or wanting to furnish an entire new home, you’ll find the right style, wood and color at the Amish Oak Furniture Co. in Loudonville. And because their furniture is handcrafted specifically for you, the choices are almost endless. As owner Chris Tuttle explains, “We’ll use the wood you like, your choice of stain or paint color, choice of hardware, and even change dimensions or features on a piece of furniture so that It’s exactly what you want. That’s one of the things that sets us apart from the ‘big box’ stores where you don’t have those choices.”
Another thing that sets the Amish Oak Furniture Co apart is that all of their furniture is made in the USA. “All of our hardwood furniture, Sofas, Sectionals and Recliners are made in Ohio and Indiana”, says Tuttle. And when you shop at Amish Oak for locally made furniture, you’re avoiding the huge carbon footprint made by the imported furniture that the big box and online furniture companies are selling. “A lot of shoppers never think about all the energy consumed and pollution emitted when furniture is imported from China; the dirty coal that is burned overseas, the energy used in container shipments from overseas, and then all the miles this imported furniture is shipped from our ports, inland to distribution centers, then to the retail stores. And on top of that, so much of this cheaply made imported furniture then winds up at the landfill in a few years.” Shopping locally for locally made furniture is good for our local economy and for the environment.
Another unique thing about the Amish Oak Furniture Co is their lifetime guarantee on all indoor solid wood furniture. “I don’t know of any other furniture stores offering this, but we are that confident in the quality of our craftsmen, and have continued to offer this for the past thirty-seven years”, says Tuttle.
Amish Oak’s Loudonville showroom consists of four historic downtown buildings with showrooms on both floors. You’ll find over 12,000 sq ft of dining, bedroom, office, living room and outdoor furniture in styles from contemporary to traditional. You can also visit them online at www.amishoak.com. Store hours are Tuesdays thru Saturday 10-5 and Sundays 12-5.
With the Holidays approaching, the normal timeline of approximately twelve weeks for Amish handcrafted furniture may not meet your needs for that living room or dining room furniture you need now. At the Amish Oak Furniture & Mattress Company, you have the option of purchasing anything you see on our showroom floors right off the floor. Our policy of allowing sale of display models helps the customer who needs their furniture quickly, and often opens up needed floor space for new items and styles we’re continually adding.
We also have a number of ‘quick ship’ options from several of our Amish builders where the furniture can be ready for you in as little as four to six weeks. In some cases, the wood species options are a little more limited, but our wide variety of stain options is still available. Whether you need bedroom, living room or dining room furniture more quickly, we can let you know styles that are available on a ‘quick ship’ basis. Also, keep in mind that our American made sofas, sectionals and recliners from Smith Brothers and Ort Furniture are typically ready in four to eight weeks. And again, you are welcome to purchase any sofa or recliner from our showroom displays.
With Arbor Day just around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect on how what we buy effects our environment. Unlike pressboard or particle board furniture you’ll find at the big box stores, the solid wood furniture offered at Amish Oak will last a lifetime and more. Whereas particle board and laminate furniture will very likely find its’ way to the land fill before too many years go by.
When you shop at the Amish Oak Furniture Company you’re also shopping local and purchasing furniture made right here in Ohio, versus furniture shipped from overseas, avoiding all the fuel and energy required to move things across the globe. You’ll also be supporting sustainable furniture manufacturing, as Ohio’s woodlots are actually larger today than they were a hundred years ago, due to smart and careful stewardship.
In addition to shopping locally and with sustainability in mind, you’ll also get lots of options at Amish Oak that you won’t find at the big box stores. Choose the wood species, stain or paint color and hardware that best suits your décor. On most items, you can even customize the dimensions to fit your needs. And, you’ll find lots of style choices; from re-claimed barn wood furniture, hand planed and rough sawn styles, to the clean lines of Shaker and Mission styles and traditional looks, you’ll find what you your looking for at Amish Oak.
What are Live Edge Tables?
You may have seen these tables around, looking a bit unfinished and unsymmetrical. These rustic tables are making a major comeback in homes and workplaces. “Live Edge” refers to the uncut edges, highlighting the bark, knots and other unique elements of this specific piece of wood. These one-of-a-kind pieces make beauty out of imperfection and highlight the natural beauty of the wood.
How do they help the environment?
Solid wood furniture has a leg up on other forms because it can be effectively “up-cycled” by refinishing and reusing the piece. These can even be passed down for generations. Now, cutting down a tree may seem like the opposite of “going green” but when trees are harvested properly, they are a sustainable, renewable resource. Live edge tables take this a step further as the natural shape and edges of the tree are used instead of cutting out a shape and throwing away the rest. It’s just one way we can be responsible with our resources.
Are they difficult to take care of?
Live edge furniture is no more difficult than any other solid wood furniture. A mixture of vinegar and water is a great natural cleaning tool! Dry the wood immediately after. Try to keep the table dry by using coasters and cleaning up spills right away. Dust as needed.
I’d like to talk about how much space is needed in the kitchen or dining room for comfortable seating along with some words about style and design choices. At the Amish Oak Furniture and Mattress Co. we can build tables to the exact size you need, from small solid top (no leaves) tables, to tables that extend to twenty feet with leaves! Here are some things to consider when shopping for a new dining room set:
Table Size: The room your table will be in will of course dictate the maximum size you can allow. Normally we recommend you choose a size that’s best for every day, along with leaves to add to extend your table for additional seating when company arrives. The rule of thumb for minimum amount of space needed per person is 24”. A little extra is better, with 26” being ideal, allowing for some ‘elbow room’. So a table 42 x 60” long would be very comfortable seating for six, with two on each side and one on each end of the table. For more seating, we can build with leaves which typically add 12” per leaf. Many of our table styles are built with self-storing leaves, which our customers love because the leaves are stored right within the table!
Clearance to Wall: Allow at least 36” from the edge of the table to the wall, or other furniture, such as a sideboard or hutch. 48” is ideal.
Chairs with or without Arms?: Twenty years or more ago, most families would always include two ‘arm’ or ‘captain’s’ chairs with their table and chair order. It was just the traditional way to order chairs, with an arm chair at each end of the table. Over the years that trend has changed, with the majority of folks ordering all ‘side’, or armless chairs. Almost all of our chair styles are available with or without arms (and also as bar chairs). One reason to still consider a couple of arm chairs is if there is a member of the family that due to knee or hip problems, needs help getting out of a chair. That said, also consider the space you have in your room. Arm chairs need a little extra space to push far enough away from the table to get up and away.
Dining Furniture Styles: We offer a wide variety of styles, with many Transitional styles, but also Contemporary, Mission, Shaker, Colonial, Traditional, Live Edge and even Queen Ann styles. We’ve recently added barn floor, rough sawn, and hand planed treatments to our table tops which provide a rustic look and feel. Style choice depends on your personal preference along with the style and design of your home. Although some like contrasting styles, most want a style that will complement their home. Most folks with a historic colonial home are going to want colonial style furniture as well.
Wood and Color Choices: The trend over the last several years has been away from the old ‘honey colored oak’ to other wood species such as maple, cherry, walnut and elm, often in darker colors and grey tones. Two-toned furniture is also very popular, often with a dark, onyx colored base with contrasting top. All of our furniture also include a top coat of catalyzed finish, which repels water, alcohol and other spills. This is the same protective finish used in all high end kitchen and bath cabinets.
Selection: We have a very wide selection of pieces to choose from for your kitchen and dining needs. From our rustic whiskey barrel tables with bar stools and our whiskey barrel serving bars, our wine cabinets, sideboards, hutches and buffets, to our custom built island cabinets, bar chairs and swivel stools, you’ll find the piece and style right for your home.
Owner of Amish Oak Furniture & Mattress Co.
As we get ready for our 36th anniversary sale next week, I began reflecting on my experiences with the Amish over the years. I’ve developed close relationships with many of our builders over the years and have watched their families grow, their children grow up and seen some of the challenges they face surrounded by the ‘modern’ world.
As business people needing to keep their businesses competitive, it’s a challenge for them in determining which modern ‘amenities’ can be used, and how they can be used, without detriment to their beliefs and culture.
When I began our business in 1982, if a phone was accessible, it was typically a ‘community’ phone located in a small shed at the end of someone’s lane. Only important and emergency calls were made, and a notebook sat by the phone so callers could jot down the calls they made so they could pay for their portion of the community ‘phone bill’.
Over the years, many of the Amish churches began to allow businesses more access to phones, with some businesses adding answering machines and more recently in some cases, the use of cell phones; all with the understanding that phone use was to be for business purposes. One unique and resourceful business that started several years ago, to improve communication with Amish businesses was a fax service business. We call it the “generic fax service” because most of our builders subscribe to it. If we need to communicate quickly regarding the status of an order or an order change, for example, we can send a message to a particular builder via the generic fax service. The fax service then hand delivers the fax to that builder within 24 hours and receives a small fee for each fax delivered along the route. Our builder can then reply to us via the same fax service.
The use of motorized vehicles has also increased over the years, with every Amish family and Amish business having a short list of ‘drivers’ to call when they need transportation for medical reasons, shopping or a special outing. And as with all ‘modern amenities’, each church determines the rules for their use or acceptance. Most of the Amish churches permit occasional use of a driver and his or her vehicle for everything from trips to the grocery store, to taking a vacation trip. On the other hand, the Old Order Amish limit vehicle transportation to medical emergencies. Otherwise, horse and buggy are used.
I’ll never forget a time back in the 1980’s when I stopped at one of our Old Order Amish shops to check on the status of some roll top desks that were overdue. My Amish friend said there was a hold up at the panel shop and he was waiting for word they were ready. I suggested he hop in my truck so we could drive the few miles to the panel shop. He said that the ‘rules’ prohibited him to ride in a vehicle, but if I didn’t mind, we could take his horse and buggy to visit the panel shop. It was a ride I really enjoyed, and got me to reflect on how the Amish way of life led you to slow down, visit with one another and take time to enjoy the journey. It seems we “English” are always in a hurry, and sometimes forget the importance of relationships, and of taking time to appreciate our surroundings, and the beauty around us.
Another time, with another Amish friend and furniture builder, I stopped one summer day to pick up a load of chairs that were finished, and as I was about to leave, Sam asked if I liked watermelon. A few minutes later we were sitting on the grass in the shade beside his garden, each of us with a half a watermelon in our laps. Again, I was impressed by the importance of taking time to visit and to enjoy the simple pleasures.
Even as the challenges of staying apart from the modern world increase, the Amish continue to adhere to their strong sense of community, the importance of family and friends, and their deep religious beliefs.
Owner of Amish Oak Furniture & Mattress Co.
When you purchase our Amish-built furniture, you’re not only supporting a local, Ohio small business; you’re also supporting the small family-owned and operated shops that build our furniture. For over thirty-five years we’ve partnered with dozens of Amish family woodworking shops to make Amish-crafted furniture available to the retail public. Today, many of the shops we work with are now run by the grown up children of the furniture builders we originally partnered with! It’s been great watching them grow up and in many cases take over the ‘family business’.
It has always amazed me how well the Amish are able to manage and grow their small businesses with just an eight grade education. Far from ‘uneducated’, the Amish are adept at learning all they need to know to successfully run their small shops. In addition to woodworking, they become knowledgeable about mechanical systems (to run their tools), bookkeeping, logistics and customer service.
And as our local Amish population grows, farm land has become so scarce and expensive that the majority of young Amish men are now pursuing other forms of livelihood, such as masons, home builders, roofers, buggy builders, saw mills and small engine shops. Once married, many want to operate a small business that can include their families, which makes woodworking ideal.
So when you’re ready to make your next furniture purchase, we hope you’ll avoid mass produced, imported furniture, and choose furniture made not only in the USA, but furniture made right here in Ohio.
-Chris Tuttle, owner, Amish Oak Furniture Co.