A Short History Of Drawer Construction: The good, the bad, and the ugly!

There are many ways to make a drawer, however, not all drawers are created equal.

Drawer Joints in order of Strength

The very best drawers are made with English Dovetails front and back. There are two types of dovetail joints. First, classic English, visible from side of drawer dovetails second, hidden also known as blind French Dovetails (slide up from bottom”. What distinguishes this joint is when pulling pressure is applied to drawer front it tends to get tighter because the male part of joint fitted into drawer front is not parallel and gets tighter with pressure.

Box Joints
Can be a very effect joint when made with care to use close tolerances. Similar in appearance to the dovetail except the sides of the joint is parallel.

Tongue and Groove
Similar to a Blind French dovetail but open on one side. This joint is easier to make, however not as strong as the above type of joints.

Butt Joint
The Butt joint is simply the drawer side lined up with the drawer front and backs and fastened in some manner of glue, nails, staples, screws, or cam fasteners (Ikea type self assembly). Not generally considered a good joint unless securely assembled with glue and pressure applied while glue sets. Many pieced considered folk art or primitive pieces use this simple method of drawer construction.

Glue makes the Difference

Proper use of the right kind and appropriate application of glue can mitigate many joint shortcomings. Today’s glues are far stronger and longer lasting than old-fashioned adhesives. Most glue needs consistent pressure of some clamping method for glued joints to achieve maximum strength. Without that pressure, 90% of strength can be lost. That pressure can be achieved using either clamps or stables to hold joint firm until the glue has set. Staples alone are essentially no joints at all.

Drawer Systems
Oh My God, Thousands of different systems to open and close a drawer!

Before the 1940’s, virtually all drawers no matter what quality were simply slid into an opening in a supporting structure. That supporting structure or case sometimes had a panel between the drawers to prevent dust from being drawn into the cabinet from the suction created by opening the drawer or dust created by the action of wood rubbing against wood. This is a very difficult way to fit a drawer requiring hand fitting of the drawer box into the case, and often resulting in sticking in wet weather.

To save time in production a wood center guide system was invented. Better quality production would use the bottom of the drawer above to keep the drawer from dropping and some hand fitting was still required get a smoothly opening drawer. The center guide system allows a gap between the drawer box and case side and centering of the gap. This reduces the labor by a large factor.

In the 1960’s a new system was invented that put a plastic clip on the back of the drawer to keep the from dropping down. The plastic would slide smoothly but it had one big problem. The problem was the plastic would deteriorate and with time, any downward pressure would snap the glide.

The next innovation was the European style side capturing roller systems. These systems have a lot of advantages. When properly installed, they will give years of trouble free operation. They work with a double nylon wheel system that interlocks and rolls in a track. The innovation that speeds installation production is the wheel is captured in the track only on one side giving a leeway of about 1/8” on the other side.

About the same time, the “Ball Bearing Systems” came on line. These are the best type of slide with weight capacities of up to 100’s of pounds. Upgrades available on these types of slides include earthquake stops, full pull out up to 110%, side or hidden under mount, and soft or self-closing drawers.

Amish Mission Furniture Keeps Old-World Traditions Alive

By the 19th century, the British aesthetic Arts & Crafts movement made its way to the United States. The movement was at its height in Britain between 1880 and 1910, then traveled and became popular in the United States between 1910 and 1920. The ideals that fueled the movement revolved around the denunciation of the Industrial Revolution and all the mundane and repetitive production to come out of it. The Arts & Crafts movement sought to return to handcraft, where items like furniture were simple and authentic. The lifestyle and the crafts of the Amish are based around similar ideals.

The Amish lead very unique lives with strict rules and regulations that prevent them from consuming many of the innovations presented by the Industrial Revolution, therefore Amish furniture is all hand-crafted. Amish Mission furniture features all the aesthetic qualities inspired by the Arts & Crafts movement including the clean, even lines and exposed joinery. While mass production manufacturers may be able to reproduce some of these characteristics, a true Mission inspired piece is handcrafted as the pioneers of the Arts & Crafts movement intended it to be.

Amish built furniture does not contain any toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, flame-retardants, or composite woods that will off-gas (release substances) into the air in your home. Their items contain no adhesives or synthetic bonding materials that could be harmful to your health. Relying on traditional methods, master Amish craftsmen create timeless furniture out of raw material without the aid of the energy-draining factories or machines. The solid wood used is hand-selected, making each unit a unique heirloom-quality piece.
Inspired by their beliefs, Amish craftsmen are keeping the old-world traditions of furniture making alive. Their work is all done by hand and the only tools involved are powered hydraulically and pneumatically. The detailing and staining of Amish furniture is also done by hand. Much like the Mission style furniture created during the Arts & Crafts movement, there is much patience and attention given to each piece of furniture and this is something that cannot be replicated by a factory.

Amish Mission furniture is inspired by the same organic elements of nature that sparked the Arts & Crafts movement. Arts & Crafts pioneers William Morris and Frank Lloyd Wright designed homes and furnishings that were based on the fundamental principals of honesty, simplicity and usefulness. Their designs were a drastic shift from the excess of the Victorian Age and by the time the Arts & Crafts movement made its way to America, when cities were thriving and farm-life was diminishing, the simple designs of these innovators were a breath of fresh air.

Lately, people are feeling the effects of excess once more and instead of adding to the destruction of our environment are looking for eco-friendly alternatives. Amish Mission Furniture is the perfect alternative to polluting, dangerous mass-produced furniture and is becoming more easily obtainable through retailers. Amish solid wood furniture is created for all rooms of the house and will remain valuable, cherished additions to your home

The Advantages of Amish Furniture

Amish made furniture offer several advantages not available from furniture that is mass-produced. With Amish made furniture becoming more accessible through furniture retailers, you can own your very own Amish crafted pieces tailored to your needs.

The most unique feature about Amish furniture is its heirloom quality construction. Amish craftsmen use traditional methods for construction, which means that their products are handcrafted, durable, and feature great attention to detail. The Amish follow a set of beliefs that does not allow them the use of electricity; therefore most of their furniture-building techniques involve tools that are powered hydraulically and pneumatically.

Amish oak furniture features hand-selected pieces of lumber, ensuring that your piece will contain only the most beautiful parts of the tree that are the most durable and that it will be one of a kind. Besides solid oak, Amish crafted furniture is also available in cherry and maple. Detailing and staining of furniture is most often done by hand as well. Mass-produced furniture is often disposable and made with dangerous materials including particleboard and even formaldehyde. This type of manufacturing often results in nicked veneers and unsteady construction.

While energy-consuming, polluting furniture manufacturing plants harm our environment, the Amish people rely on eco-friendly methods of producing furniture that reduce energy consumption, does not lead to deforestation, and reduces the toxic off-gassing typical of mass-produced furniture. Using only man-power, Amish craftsmen create lasting wood furniture created from sustainably harvested forests. Amish built furniture does not contain any toxic chemicals such as formaldehyde, flame-retardants, composite woods, or adhesive and synthetic bonding materials that will off-gas (release substances) into the air in your home. Because Amish furniture is so durable, it will last your family years or can be passed down or sold to members of your family or community instead of ending up as garbage in a landfill.

While mass-produced furniture often represents ever-changing trendy styles that are here today, gone tomorrow, Amish crafted furniture is created in timeless looks that will always be cherished. These styles include Mission style, which has clean, even lines and exposed joinery. Their Shaker style is known for its simplicity, innovative joinery, and functionality. The most ornate of Amish styles is the Queen Anne style, which features ornate carvings and detailing. The Amish are inspired by nature and so are many of their designs. They also incorporate many geometric patterns like circles and triangles. The Amish create furniture for all rooms in the home including bedroom sets, dining room sets and living room furniture that includes occasional tables and TV stands. Several of these units can be custom-built to perfectly suit your home.

The Amish people live in various states of the United States with the largest groups residing in Ohio and Pennsylvania. They lead very unique lives with strict rules and regulations that prevent them from consuming many modern conveniences like electricity, cars and telephones that so many people take for granted. Their lifestyle gives way to their creativity and hard work that allows them to create such stunning products that leave many people in awe. Because the Amish are not concerned with leading frugal lives, most of their furniture is sold at very low prices. It is their furniture selling that provides the financial stability for many Amish communities.

Amish made furniture are so unique that it is impossible to replicate in any factory. The patience and attention paid to each piece of furniture makes every piece they create a special and unique item that will stand out in any room. The time and effort that goes into their work is ensures that their products will last a lifetime.

The Amish People & Culture

The history of the Amish people can be traced back hundreds of years and unlike most cultures that evolve to adapt to the ever-changing world, the Amish have stayed true to their roots. The Amish religion originated from the Mennonite religion, which encourages nonviolence, nonviolent resistance, and pacifism. The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations whose roots began in central Europe. When Swiss-German Mennonite leader, Jacob Amman insisted on the practice of Meidung, which is the strict shunning of excluded members, this brought about a division in the Swiss Mennonite movement in 1693 and led to the establishment of the Amish. Amman felt the Mennonites were drifting away from their beliefs. Nevertheless, the two groups are still very closely related and many times may live right next to each other. Their roots and standards for a simple life and diligent work are very closely aligned and have remained much the same throughout the centuries past.

The Amish separate themselves into as many as eight different orders, but the majority are affiliated with one of five religious orders: Old Order Amish, New Order Amish, Andy Weaver Amish, Beachy Amish, and Swartzentruber Amish. Of these groups, the Old Order Amish are the largest group and the Swartzentruber Amish are considered the most conservative.

The Amish follow the Christian faith as any other person of the Christian faith. The Bible is the main study book. The Ordnung, a list of rules dictates all aspects of their life from their way of dress and hair length to buggy style and farming techniques. This list of rules varies from among the different orders and communities. Some of their beliefs do not allow them to pose for photographs because they feel it violates the biblical teaching against making graven images. They also don’t believe in photographs for fear that it will promote self-pride. Many will put their hands or hats over their faces, look away or take evasive action to avoid having their picture taken.

There are approximately 150,000 Amish in North America, with the largest group residing in Ohio and other large populations in Pennsylvania, northern Indiana and Iowa. They are known as the plain people because of the plain colored clothing they wear. As a symbol of their faith, Amish clothing styles encourage humility and disconnection from the world. Their clothing is homemade of plain, dark fabrics. Amish men are not allowed to wear belts, sweaters, neckties and gloves, while Amish women are not allowed patterned clothing or jewelry. The Ordnung of the specific Amish order may also provide other strict orders regarding dress, even dictating the length of a skirt or the width of a seam. The Amish speak Pennsylvania Dutch among themselves and live within highly personalized relationships, and avoid anything more than casual contact with strangers. They are happy living without the conveniences of the 21st century such as electricity, cars and telephones.

The Amish are disapproving of technology because they feel it weakens the family structure. Modern conveniences such as television, automobiles, and even tractors are considered to be a temptation that causes vanity, inequality and can create a disbanding of their close-knit communities. Most Amish rely on horse-drawn machinery and get around on horse-drawn buggies. While the Amish aren’t allowed a phone in the home, many still have access to one that is usually kept in a wooden shanty between farms. Electricity is sometimes utilized, usually for the use of electric cattle fences, flashing lights on buggies or heating home. Nevertheless, they rely on windmills as their source of naturally generated electric power. Other modern devices such as disposable diapers and barbecue grills may also be allowed because the Ordnung does not specifically prohibit them.

The Amish do not believe in education beyond the eighth grade because they believe that the knowledge offered up to that point is sufficient to prepare for the Amish lifestyle. Amish schools are usually one-room schoolhouses with young unmarried women from the Amish community as teachers. These schools educate children in many crafts and can be considered vocational education.

Among the crafts that the Amish specialize in, their quilts have become very popular and profitable. Their quilts also reflect the Amish way of life in the way that they mirror their religious philosophy that forbids them from being too “flashy” or “worldly.” Only solid colors are used and sometimes the church may restrict the use of certain colors that are considered too flashy. Like their clothing, quilts usually use a lot of dark colors like black and blue with most of the attention being paid to the stitching forms and patterns.

Among their lasting traditions, their dedication to the production of heirloom quality furniture has remained true. Amish furniture making is mostly known for being constructed from solid wood, using no particle board or laminate, and the great attention paid to the details of the wood. Each piece of wood is hand selected and special attention is paid to the grain. Amish furniture is valued for its heirloom quality that can be passed down and valued by different generations. It first gained attention in the 1920’s when early folk art was becoming popularized.

The techniques used by Amish woodworkers do not require electricity; their tools are hydraulically and pneumatically powered by running on diesel generators. However, the detail and finish are applied by hand, therefore ensuring the finest quality. A common characteristic of Amish furniture is the five-piece English dovetail joints on drawers and steel ball bearing drawer glides. Amish craftsmen acquire their skills from generations before them. Starting early in their life, many Amish dedicate their lives to helping in the family shop where if they are woodworkers, they pick up specific design details.

Among many other styles, the Amish create Mission and Shaker styles. The Mission style features classic, straight lines, exposed joinery and features a clean design; similarly, the Shaker style is very simple and is designed with functionality and durability in mind.

Bedroom Furniture Guide

You want the furniture pieces in your bedroom to not only take up space but also serve you with their functions. Many manufacturers offer different options on the same unit. Below are the most popular items for your bedroom and their functions as well as different options offered by manufacturers.

Bed mattresses and their accommodating frame come in different sizes, which include

* Twin (39" wide x 75" long
* Full (54” wide x 75”long)
* Queen (60” wide x 80” long)
* Cal. King (72” wide x 84” long)
* Eastern King (76” wide x 80” long).

Choose the size of your bed according to your size and/ or how many people will be sleeping in it. The size of the room is also important, as you need to allow yourself enough space to walk around the bed and have easy access to closets and other doors. Twin size wood beds are most commonly used for children. Space can be maximized with bunk beds and trundle beds, which is a bed that slides in and out from under the bed and can be used to accommodate sleepover guests. A daybed is a combination between a traditional bed and a couch. It features a frame that wraps around three sides of the bed and can be lined with pillows to provide a comfortable backrest during the day, while the traditional mattress leads for more comfortable sleep during the night.

While most traditional beds feature a tall headboard with a low footboard, a platform bed is designed to provide a low-profile sleeping surface. It consists of a raised, flat horizontal surface that will support your mattress without a box spring. The drawers or doors underneath maximize your space by providing organized storage under your bed.

Full beds are about 15” wider than a twin, but if two people are sharing the bed, each is left with less space than on a twin! Even on a queen size bed, each person would still have less space than on a twin. The most comfortable bed for two people is a King size, which will allow the maximum space for each person, but keep in mind that this large bed may not be so easy to maneuver in and out of your bedroom.

Night Stands
Night stands are available with a variety of design options. They can offer drawers, doors, shelves or a combination of these features. Choose the features that will be the most useful to you. The most important feature, however, is the night stand’s height. Your night stand should be tall enough so you can see and reach your alarm clock or lamp from your bed, otherwise as tall as your bed.

There are many different armoire configurations. Traditionally, armoires contain a hanging rod behind double doors and drawers lower at the base. However, there are armoires also known as entertainment cabinets that have a space for your television to remain concealed behind closed doors. These types of units can feature doors that fold all the way back to eliminate any viewing obstructions, as well as a swivel for your television to sit on. The bottom of this unit may sometimes feature drawers or another set of doors. There are also computer armoires that will accommodate all you’re your computer components and will have special features such as a pull out keyboard and a surge protector. No matter what their function, all armoires will take up a great deal of space, so adequate room is necessary for this unit.

Dressers and Chests
Dressers and chest mainly serve the same purpose. Whether you prefer drawers for storage that are lined vertically (a chest) or horizontally (dresser), is your choice. However, dressers can provide a great deal of storage by extending vertically as well as horizontally. These oversized dressers are known as mule chests and can provide different storage compartments besides drawers, such as doors or shelves. Chests usually consist of a single column of drawers stacked on top of each other, but some manufacturers offer different takes on this traditional style of chest. A “man’s chest” features a combination of drawers and large double-doors which contain shelves for storage. This piece is wider than a standard chest. A sweater chest will usually contain one drawer and one door. Usually close in width to a standard chest, a sweater chest will contain large shelves behind the door, perfect for storing folded sweaters. A lingerie chest is perfect for storing its namesake. This unit is usually narrower than a customary chest, but still features a narrow column of drawers. When choosing a dresser or chest, it is most important to take note of the drawers. You will need one that is voluminous enough to comfortably fit your belongings. Stuffing your drawers and forcing them shut will eventually cause them to break.


If the mirror in your bedroom is going to sit on top of your dresser, it is important to consider the scale of the dresser. You may either attach it to your dresser or hang it on the wall. Many manufacturers offer the “tri-mirror” which attaches to your dresser and is designed with three hinged, adjustable mirrors. You may also choose a full size, cheval mirror that can stand on the floor.

10 Things to Know Before Shopping for Wood Furniture

1. What is your budget?
Quality, construction, fine or rare wood could be pricier, so you may have to make adjustments to your budget. Many qualities should be put into consideration to determine the desired amount to spend on each piece such as how long you will keep the item and whether it is one of the central pieces in the room or just an accent. Assigning a budget will help you set limits for yourself, so you don't end up spending all your money before you purchase all the units you need.
2. Where will it be used?
It is important to know the scale of an item to make sure it is going to fit in your intended space. Knowing the area that you are shopping for will also help you determine what major items you will need for that room and how much space they can be allowed. For example, a family room would require plenty of seating as well as maybe a couple spare chairs.
3. How often will it be used?
Pieces that are going to go in a family room for daily use have to be durable. Pay close attention to the components that will be used several times per day, like drawers and doors. Furniture that is going to go into a guest room or any other room could be purchased with appearance in mind with shape, size, and design being the most important qualities to look for.
4. How long will you have it?
Wood furniture pieces in your dining room, bedroom, or living room may remain in your family for many years. You may even decide to pass this furniture down to future generations. For heirloom quality pieces, allow yourself to spend more money. Accent pieces, on the other hand, shouldn't be so expensive if you intend on updating your style occasionally. Children's furniture that your child will eventually grow out of shouldn't be so expensive since you will have to update it as he/she grows older. Have fun with these items and just shop with aesthetic appeal in mind.
5. What is your personal style?
Find your personal style by studying your wardrobe, car and favorite things. Pay attention to your favorite colors, textures and patterns. Also consider your lifestyle when purchasing furniture. Are you single? Do you have any children, pets, ect.?
6. What kind of wood do you like?
Wood furniture is made from seasonal hardwoods or year round softwoods. Hardwoods come from broad-leafed trees (not needles) such as maple, oak, teak, and finer woods such as walnut, mahogany, and cherry. These woods are found in the most expensive furniture pieces. Softwoods come from needle-bearing evergreens like pine, spruce, redwood, or cedar. Such lumber is used in less-formal pieces. Rubberwood is plantation-grown in tropical countries. It is very durable and resistant to most varieties of fungi, bacteria, and mold.
7. What is the difference between solid and veneer?
Solid wood furniture usually means all the exposed parts of the piece are solid, while the frames and inner parts are made of other less expensive material. When thin layers of decorative wood are bonded to the face of furniture pieces, this is called veneer. While solid wood is valued for its durability, veneer provides a greater variety of styles, patterns and textures.
8. What finish do you prefer?
A finish on wood furniture can enhance its natural look or change it completely. A simple oil or wax finish will enhance the grain on an item, but for increased durability, furniture with a lacquer finish is best. Lacquer protects against spills and rings. A distressed look means that the wood is made to look older by beating and hammering the wood before the final finish is applied.
9. How good is the workmanship?
Ensure that drawers fit and slide well on glides and stop flush with the front of the piece. Dust panels on the drawers are best for keeping your belongings clean. Make sure that the hardware is installed correctly on any doors. The legs on tables should be even and not rock. If your table has leaves, make sure they match the rest of the table. Higher quality pieces will have dovetail joints, but always make sure to pay attention to how the drawer fronts are attached. Chair joints should also be examined carefully. Make sure they are snug and free from excess glue. On tables, corners should be reinforced and legs securely attached.
10. What safety issues arise with the purchase of your furniture?
The drawers on dressers and chests should have drawer stops that will prevent the drawer from falling out on unsuspecting children. When buying a bookcase, makes sure it contains big enough shelves so that there is no danger of you having to overload the shelves. You may also want to secure the top portion of the unit to the wall so that it won't tip over. When searching for entertainment centers, make sure to use the correct size furniture to hold your television. If your television is too large for the unit, it may fall forward. Storage and toy chests should have safety latches on the lids to prevent the top from falling freely and possibly slamming shut on fingers or a child's head.