Category Archives: Hardwood Furniture

Why Mennonite Furniture?

Mennonite furniture as the name suggests, is furniture made by the Mennonites, people of the Mennonite faith. People also refer to this type of wood furniture as Amish furniture. The second thing to note about this type of furniture is that they are solid wood.  In general, solid wood furniture simply means that all the visible parts are made from hard or softwood. Common woods the Mennonites use are cherry, maple, oak and hickory.

Part of the appeal of this type of furniture is the simplicity of the pieces. People tend to love the reminder of a bygone time when people preferred a simpler life. Another reason to buy them is that no two pieces will ever be exactly the same even if they have the same basic design. The grain of the wood for instance, will be different, giving the finish a different look and feel.

Good Reasons to Buy Mennonite Furniture

Apart from the fact that these pieces feature appealing designs, there are many other good reasons why Mennonite furniture is a good buy. Some of these are:

  • Quality wooden furniture is durable and will last for years. If properly cared for they can even last generations.
  • Some of the pieces are highly valuable
  • The finish tends to be very attractive
  • They are generally handmade furniture built by master cabinetmakers who pride themselves on creating the best pieces possible
  • They are easy to care for and scratches or nicks can generally be repaired by getting the piece polished

How to Buy Mennonite Furniture

As with buying any other type of wood furniture, there are certain standard things to check before buying any piece of Mennonite furniture. These include the following:

  • Look for wood grain patterns at the seams or ends where pieces meet. Solid wood furniture normally has these grains visible. Veneer or other manmade material such as particle board normally has the ends covered with finishing material.
  • Check the item for any signs of warping or twisting
  • Check if the joints are loose or show signs of slackening when the piece is lifted or shifted slightly
  • Look at the undersides of the pieces to see if it there is any damage or if the finish is poorly done
  • Run your hands over the surface of the furniture to make sure there are no dents or other signs of damage. Of course, knots in the wood are not often viewed as faults, but rather part of the allure and what makes that piece of furniture different.

Caring for Mennonite Furniture

It is important to care for your solid wood furniture, to preserve not only its look and value, but also its durability. A damp cloth should be used to wipe the surfaces of the solid wood furniture. Either water or vinegar can be used to dampen the rag. If dusting is all that is necessary, then a dry rag can be used. Never use furniture polish on solid wood furniture as the liquid will remove the furniture’s finish over time. This can lead to damage or the development of unsightly stains.

Mennonite adds class to any setting, and the right piece can make any room look special. The different color stains and varnishes used to give wood furniture a finished look means that you will always be able to find the right piece for any room. The versatility of wood furniture makes interior decorating easy. They can suit a modern setting, and the right pieces can transform a room into an 18th century masterpiece. In spite of the many options available, before making a purchase, make sure that the store has a return policy.

Types of Wood Furniture

Buying furniture is an exciting experience, but it can also be quite frustrating trying to determine what to buy. Common household furniture made of wood like beds, canopies, chairs, tables, dressers and armoires can enhance a home’s decor. One major decision rests on whether to go with wood furniture or those made from other types of material. Homeowners tend to find wood furniture attractive for the following reasons:

  • The natural beauty of the wood due to variety of textures and color ranges
  • Its durability once it is properly cared for
  • The different styles and designs

How to Choose Wood Furniture

The bedroom, living room and kitchen frequently feature wood furniture although it is used in other areas as well. Many pieces are designed for outdoor use, which influences the type of wood used. An important first step is to consider your budget and where you will place the furniture. Pieces that will be used often require durable wood, but those that serve decorative purposes do not need to be as strong.

Check the finish on the furniture for defects such as uneven drawers and joints that are not properly fitted. The way the item is made will greatly affect not only the look, but also how long it lasts. Choose colors that complement the rest of your furniture or that set the mood of the room.

Look at the finish on the furniture to make sure that there are no cracks or blemishes. Furniture makers often add extra features to meet the demands of modern living. Some types are scratch resistant or water-proofed which increases their value. Check the bottom of furniture for flaws, since the tops and sides are the most visible areas.

Pressing slightly on joints will help determine if they are strong. If only slight pressure causes them to give way even a little, they are not as sturdy as they should be. This can be dangerous especially for furniture such as chairs and beds. Since they are expected to last a long time, it is always important to test wood furniture for quality.

Common Types of Wood for Making Furniture

When it comes to wood furniture, two broad categories of woods are used; soft and hard wood. Hardwoods are the most popular types and are selected for some of the following features:

  • Cherry: With colors ranging from red to reddish-brown, this wood darkens when exposed to light as well as with age.
  • Mahogany: This one of the most popular woods used to make furniture, not only for its beautiful finish but also because it is durable and does not swell, warp or shrink easily. The colors range from blood red to even a slight grayish hue.
  • Maple: The colors of this wood range from creamy white and variations of white with the heartwood (inner parts) sometimes being a slight reddish-brown. This makes it one of the more attractive options.
  • Oak: Its ability to handle most finishes makes this a good choice for furniture as does its attractive grain and texture.
  • Rosewood: Its beautiful grain makes it a favorite among furniture-makers.
  • Teak: Not only is it moisture-resistant, it also takes different finishes well.
  • Walnut: The texture and color makes this wood very popular as well.

While not as popular for furniture, the following softwoods are sometimes used: cedar, Hemlock, Pine, Redwood and Spruce. Those pieces made from softwood tend to be less expensive and may not last as long as pieces made from hardwood. Softwood also offers beautiful grain and color choices for homeowners.

Always bear in mind the overall look and décor of your home or office when buying wood furniture. No matter how attractive a piece of furniture is, it must fit the look of the room. Also check the rating of the wood used since wood is rated based on quality. The higher the rating of the wood used, the better the quality of the finished product.

What is Mennonite Furniture?

The simplest answer to that question is this:  Mennonite furniture is furniture that is made by Mennonites!

Who are the Mennonites?

Mennonites are people who belong to the Mennonite religion.  Mennonites and Amish people have many similarities as they both came from the same religious movement in Europe back in the 1500’s.  Mennonites were persecuted in Europe.  Their religious beliefs, which did not allow fighting in war or for any other reason, made them a target during many conflicts.  As groups, they moved around within Germany, Russia, Poland, and finally came into North America as they sought freedom to practice their own beliefs without persecution.  The Amish branched off when they made the decision that technological and mechanical advances were not in line with their philosophy of simple living.  The Mennonites did not make that designation and so moved on using newer tools and methods in their work while still embracing a simple lifestyle.

Their Work

So, once again….what is Mennonite furniture?  During their long history (as well as today), the Mennonites made their living from the most simple and peaceful methods possible.  This generally meant farming and furniture building.   The furniture they built was generally all hand-made and of the highest quality.  The style of furniture they embraced originally was of the simplest form, so all their pieces were unadorned and as non-decorative as possible.  This style fit their belief that their furnishings should be functional and well made but not overtly striking.

Modern Mennonite Furniture

While the origins of Mennonite furniture created the quality and simplicity of design that are so sought after now, there have been some changes over the generations as well.  So, in the current era, what is Mennonite furniture?  It is furniture made by Mennonites in their tradition of quality.  Many Mennonite furniture makers have now also embraced more contemporary furniture designs as there is a market for that type of furniture – but the methodology of creating it remains the same;  quality, hand-made furniture.  “Hand-made” may now include the use of some power tools where traditionally only hand tools were used which is the only real change in how Mennonite furniture is made.

Many Mennonite furniture makers these days make a wider range of furniture than in the past.  They make their traditional simplistic style furniture, but also some modern, country style and some have embraced the reclaimed wood movement as well.   So, if you’d asked “what is Mennonite furniture” a hundred years ago, you may have found the answer to be quality, hand-made furniture.  That is still the answer today but with some adjustments to the modern day world.

What is Mennonite Furniture’s Appeal Today?

The simplicity and craftsmanship that seem lost in most modern furniture are what people appear to find most attractive about Mennonite furniture now.  It’s clean and old fashioned appearance often remind non-Mennonites of the simpler things in life.  The yearning to reclaim some quality and minimalism from what most people see as a by-gone era are the most appealing qualities of Mennonite furniture for most people in this modern world.