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.