August 19th, 2016
Woodworking is an ancient skill that is still alive and well today. It is no accident that it has endured the test of time. Wood remains one of the most versatile and durable materials on the planet. Thanks to the growing interest in the environment and all things eco-friendly, renewable resources such as wood have taken on a new importance.
Woodworking Will Always Be in Style
One undeniable fact about woodworking is that it will never go out of style. The artistry and beauty of woodworking is such that this craft will always be both practical and have a place in the world of the arts. Just as a sculptor can bring a block of marble or other material to life, the same holds true for a piece of wood in the hands of a skilled woodworker. So let’s explore some of the best ways to learn the ancient skill of woodworking.
Tip #1 Begin by Learning Important Safety Protocols
It is important that we discuss safety before moving on to any discussion. Like many skills, woodworking can be dangerous, especially for amateurs.
Following safety protocols is a must and for woodworking beginners, it is vital to have an experienced woodworker help you gain familiarity with the machines used and the safety protocols for the use of those machines. It is also important to note that working with manual, non-electric tools is often a safer alternative for woodworking newbies than using power tools. Summed up, proceed with caution when learning!
Tip #2 Read Easy to Use Books and E-Books on Woodworking
Learning woodworking can be very exciting and there are many ways to begin the journey. Books, including e-books, can be a great place to begin familiarizing oneself with the basics of woodworking. Many books have blueprints and plans for woodworking projects.
Woodworking books for beginners, such as Woodworking for the Serious Beginner by Pamela Philpott-Jones and Paul L. McClure and The Everything Woodworking Book: A Beginner’s Guide to Creating Great Projects From Start to Finish by Jim Stack are two good examples of woodworking books for beginners, but there are many others.
Woodworking Basics-Mastering the Essentials of Craftsmanship-An Integrated Approach with Hand and Power Tools by Peter Korn and Your First Workshop: A Practical Guide to What You Really Need (Getting Started in Woodworking) by Aime Fraser are two other excellent examples of easy to read guides for woodworking beginners.
Tip #3 Watch YouTube-A Free Guide to Endless Woodworking Tutorials
There are plenty of other options for woodworking beginners beyond books. The Internet is rich in woodworking tutorials and tips. From websites to YouTube videos there exists no shortage of ways to learn more about woodworking. Video sites, such as YouTube, are particularly valuable and useful for newbies.
When it comes to woodworking, seeing actual examples from experienced woodworkers can be rather valuable and time saving. If you are looking to “hit the ground” running with your woodworking, then watching videos is an excellent step to take. Woodworking tutorials are plentiful on YouTube, are easily accessed and are also free. In short, you just can’t beat the price of YouTube’s woodworking video tutorials and information videos.
Two good woodworking series on YouTube come from The Wood Whisper and Steve Ramsey’s Get Started in Woodworking. Ramsey, in fact, has numerous basic woodworking videos.
Tip #4 Visit Woodworking Websites
Also available online are numerous websites that are rich in woodworking information. A couple of good examples of helpful woodworking websites include Bob Villa’s website, bobvilla.com and About.com’s Woodworking site.
About’s Woodworking site includes a range of helpful articles including Safety Rules Every Woodworker Should Know, Top 10 Hand Tools Every Woodworker Needs, Top 7 Power Tools Every Woodworker Should Have, Woodworking Machines, Selecting Lumber for Your Woodworking Projects, The Easy Way to Check for Square and many other articles.
Make.Com Might Just Be Your First Stop
At Make.com, you’ll find articles on Understanding Basic Woodworking Tools, which is a great place to begin if you feel completely lost and want to know where to begin; this quick tutorial of woodworking basics is a great option for amateur woodworkers. The bottom line is that there are more woodworking articles and tips online that most people could ever read.
Tip #5 Try Some Fun and Easy Woodworking Projects
Once you have woodworking basics under your belt, you might want to check out sites like thesawguy.com. The Saw Guy has little gems like the 27 Easiest Woodworking Projects for Beginners, which is packed with basic woodworking projects for newbies to cut their woodworking teeth on. You’ll find everything from a Rustic Candle Holder and a Wooden iPad Dock to a wood rack and a simple table over at The Saw Guy.
Learning Woodworking Has Never Been Easier
Today, thanks to the Internet there exists an abundance of free advice, knowhow, ideas, tutorials and instructional videos on woodworking. Learning the valuable and ancient skill of woodworking has never before in history been this easy or this fun. If you have always wanted to learn how, then now the best time. So don’t wait, instead discover woodworking for yourself.
Experienced woodworkers will tell you that there is no greater feeling than building something wonderful, beautiful and useful with your own hands. Instead of buying an item like a table, why not learn to build your own table? The time investment you make in learning woodworking will be well rewarded.
July 17th, 2016
The history of the Amish in North America is a multifaceted and complex one. The Amish have been in the New World for hundreds of years, and 2016 marks a special occasion. A recent change stands to add a new page to the history of the Amish community. Developments in Bolivia and Argentina have led to new circumstances that stand to change Amish history forever.
The Complex Migration History of the Amish
The Amish did not originate in the North American, instead their roots can be traced to Europe. The Amish are not Mennonites, but they are closely related to the Mennonite community. This fact has become increasingly important in 2016 as the Amish expand beyond North America. The history of the Amish church can be traced back to Switzerland and 1693.
It was in that year that Anabaptist leader Jacob Ammann spearheaded a split that gave rise to the Mennonite and Amish branches. This split has remained to this day. Many Amish families made the trip to the New World in the coming years. Shortly after 1800, several thousand Amish made their way from Europe to North America with hundreds of families arriving.
In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, an Amish community was established in 1760 with another community following in Ohio in 1808. In the 18th Century, large numbers of Amish migrated to Pennsylvania. Over the years, the Amish that remained in Europe joined with the Mennonites, leaving North America as the focal point of the Amish community and the Amish world. In short, the history of the Amish in North America is a very long one.
The Growing Numbers of the Amish People
When most people think about the Amish, they usually think about the Amish living in the United States. Currently, there are over 300,000 Amish in North America, with the bulk of the Amish living in the United States in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana; however, what many don’t realize is that there are Amish communities in other locations as well. Let’s take a closer look at the Amish outside of the United States.
The Bulk of the Amish Reside in North America
While the vast bulk of Amish in North America live in the United States, there are a small number of Amish living in Canada, particularly in Ontario. The number of Old Order Amish living in Canada is about 1,500.
While Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana make up the majority of the Amish in North America, with those states accounting for roughly 190,000 Amish in total, there are several other states with sizable Amish populations. Wisconsin and New York both have around 17,000 Amish residents, Michigan has roughly 14,000 Amish residents and both Missouri and Kentucky have approximately 11,000 Amish residents.
In roughly the last 25 years, the Amish population in North America has increased considerably. In 1984 there were 84,000 Amish in North America and by 1992 this number had surged to 128,000. This study growth has continued and today there are over 300,000 Amish in North America. Prince Edward Island, Canada has a small Amish community.
New Possibilities in South America
The Amish are well established in the United States but have no major presence outside of North America. There have been new developments on this front from South America. The countries producing the most interest are Bolivia and Argentina. These new settlements are the results of an interaction with Mennonite communities in those countries inquiring about affiliation. The communities in Bolivia and Argentina have experienced financial problems in recent years and a growing concern over isolation; this resulted in the outreach. In order for the South American communities to move toward integration with the North American Amish communities, the South American communities have taken steps such as the men growing long beards and the women adopting the bonnet head coverings.
A New Page in the History of the Amish People
There could be many potential advantages for the Amish looking to relocate to South America, such an increase in affordable land. At this point it is uncertain what the future holds for those Amish communities; however, history has shown that the Amish people, despite their rejection of modern technology and advancements, are very resourceful. There is every reason to believe that the Amish will continue to thrive in South America as they have in North America. In the last three decades, North America has witnessed a stunning increase in the numbers of Amish people.
Thanks to the outreach of Mennonite communities in Bolivia and Argentina, we will likely see the number of Amish in the New World continue to grow as it has done for over 300 years. 2016 will go down as being a unique one in Amish history, as it was during this year that the North American community marked its first major migration since European Amish arrived in North America hundreds of years ago.
The history of the Amish is continuing to be written. These unexpected developments in Bolivia and Argentina in 2016 serve as a reminder of this fact.
June 21st, 2016
It is a safe to state that mankind takes wood for granted. A recent study of trees found that there are at least 4 trillion trees on the planet. This 4 trillion number greatly exceeded the estimate. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we now don’t have to worry about the planet, our natural resources or taking care of trees, instead it underscores just how vital trees are to the world as a whole.
Trees benefit mankind in an almost endless number of ways. Trees provide us with everything from shelter to energy, paper and more. We can even use wood to cook just as we our ancestors have been doing for hundreds of thousands of years. Let’s take a closer look at the five of the best ways to cook with wood.
Cooking with Wood Tip #1-Planks
One of the most overlooked ways to cook with wood, but a way that yields amazing taste results is the simple plank. A plank of wood placed over a grill can infuse food with an almost mysterious taste. Since most people never or rarely eat food prepared in this way, plank prepared food has a real wow factor.
Wood planks work extremely well with meat, poultry and fish. Seasonings used on a wood plank also absorb into proteins in a unique fashion helping to create that unusual taste. One good idea is to preseason your wood plank and consider adding an oil,such as avocado oil, to your plank. If you are looking for a way to liven up your next barbeque or party, then you’ll want to experiment with cooking on a wood plank. Many people love this style of cooking so much that they don’t want to go back to barbequing in the old way ever again!
Cooking with Wood Tip #2 -The Wood Fire Grill
Wood fire grills are becoming much more popular these days and for good reason. Wood fire grills help give food a distinctive flavor. Firewood smoke adds an amazing level of complexity to food and, let’s be honest, there is something very primal and satisfying about food prepared on a wood fired grill. Grilling is an activity your whole family can enjoy!
Wood fire grills, like other grills, have the benefit of being easy to maintain and being very flexible. A wood fire grill is very beautiful to look at when in action, and it is possible to prepare a truly wide array of foods.
Wood fire grills make tasty food and have a distinctive fun factor. No doubt about it our second choice, the wood fire grill, is a true winner!
Cooking with Wood Tip #3- Three-Wood Chips on a Gas or Charcoal Grill
Is it possible to use wood chips on a gas grill? Yes! If you want to get that smoky flavor but don’t want to use a smoker, then you’ll love using your gas grill with wood chips. The truth is this approach is even easier than you might believe. There are smoker box made from cast iron and stainless steel that can be placed on your gas or charcoal grill, which work great and provide much of the taste complexity one would expect to find in other options such as planks and the wood fire grill.
Cooking with Wood Tip #4-Smoking
Smoking has an ancient history. For hundreds of years smoking was used as a way to not just cook food but also flavor it and preserve it. There are two different kinds of smoking: the first being wet smoking that incorporates a pan of water into the process. Also there is dry smoking, which uses wood to cook food in a slow fashion. Both methods serve to give food a rich, smoky flavor. A wood smoker is an extremely effective way to smoke meat. Not every wood is a good fit for smoking. Many woods that are free of sap will work well for smoking, but you might want to experiment with different woods to find the one that works best for you.
Cooking with Wood Tip #5-Using Marinades and Seasonings
Any of the four ways to cook with wood outlined above can be improved by the incorporation of seasonings and marinades. Seasonings and marinades add a tremendous punch, kick and unexpected flavor to what wood already brings to the table. The end result can be a taste sensation that is dramatically different than what most people experience in their day-to-day dining experience.
Cooking with wood has a tendency to wow people, especially when done correctly; however, adding the additional taste complexity of marinades and seasonings serves to punch things up to a whole new, bold and exciting level. Marinades with wood planks works particularly well and makes for easy experimentation.
Just before you get started, one reminder that there are some concerns when cooking with wood. In addition to the obvious safety concerns revolving around the proper use of fire, there are some other issues. One easy to overlook issue would be the safety of the wood being used. You should only use untreated wood that is free of chemicals, additives, metal or anything else that could be harmful. In short, it is extremely important that you know what kind of wood you are using and understand its origin.
Cooking with wood can be fun, extremely tasty and allow you to explore your culinary creativity. There is nothing that can replicate the taste achieved by cooking with wood. As an occasional treat it is tough to top cooking with wood. Your ancestors would be proud.
June 1st, 2016
The Pawlowskis in Chicago got an Aspen Dining Table and Jacoby Dining Chairs. With the help of our very human ordering process, they mixed colors and textures to create an elegant but modern dining room.
The broad surfaces of these pieces—the table top and chair seats—are beautiful elm with Miniwax 224 Special Walnut stain. However, the frames of the table and chairs are brown maple with Ebony stain. If you would like a two-tone finish or other customizations for your furniture, just give us a call.
Here is the set in the Pawlowski’s classic modern dining room.
Table and chairs were beautiful… Very high quality craftsmanship. Very happy with my purchase.—Carl Pawlowski
May 28th, 2016
Here is the Losee family in Iowa with their new dining table and chairs. They needed a dining set that could stand years of family use, and we delivered.
Says Kevin Losee, “The complete process of ordering our new table and chairs was painless and the gentleman that delivered the products were very professional and courteous. We love the table and chairs. Thanks.”
These are a Shaker Hill Dining Table and Aspen Chairs in quarter sawn white oak with old world Mission stain.
All our furniture is made from American-harvested wood with none of the processing chemicals you would get from particleboard. Mortise and tenon joinery provide heirloom durability, so you can actually use your best furniture!
May 25th, 2016
Carol and Vance have added a Double Pedestal Dining Table to their California home. The table is oak with nutmeg stain. Carol is ecstatic:
I love my expanding table with four leaves that store INSIDE the table! The Amish Furniture Factory was so personal and helpful helping me in the process. I was able to make many personal design choices. The delivery men were also very helpful. I have a beautiful and functional table that expands to different sizes to accommodate family and friends. I highly recommend the Amish Furniture Factory!
Here is the table in Carol’s country-style home. With all the leaves, it’s 10 feet long!
It looks like Carol and Vance will be able to handle plenty of guests for many years on their heirloom table.
May 23rd, 2016
This traditional-style bed is our Cannon Ball Bed in black walnut with our Malaguania stain. Nicole bought it for her California home:
Traditional or Queen Anne furniture can look surprisingly elegant with its curved lines and woodturned posts. This bed is just what Nicole was looking for:
We absolutely love our Cannon Ball bed. Not only does it look great, it is beautifully built and just has a wonderful feeling about it. It’s the piece that makes the whole bedroom. Thank you!
Thank you for the beautiful picture, Nicole.
May 21st, 2016
Amish quilts are known around the world for their intense beauty. Amish quilts are carefully designed by masters. The end results are functional works of art that are often displayed by their owners with great pride. A key reason that Amish quilts are so valued is that these quilts not only take tremendous skill to produce but are also beautiful and classic works of art that are sure to stand the test of time. For this reason, many see the purchasing of Amish quilts to be nothing less than an investment.
An Investment of Time
The story of an Amish quilt is by no means a short one. The skill needed to produce these quilts is not learned overnight. Amish quilts are, in fact, works of art that are created by women who have often spent decades learning how to produce these one-of-a-kind and iconic creations.
Usually Amish women begin learning how to create Amish quilts at a young age and continue refining their skills over not years but decades. When you opt for an Amish quilt, you are in fact selecting a unique work of art that has been carefully created by a master, one who has often spent a life time learning to create these wonderful creations.
A Long History of Amish Quilts
Amish quilts are one of the key crafts of the Amish people. The tradition of Amish quilts goes well over a century and is as appreciated today as it was in the past. While the history of quilts and quilting goes back centuries, Amish quilts have made a real name for themselves in the United States. There are many different styles of Amish quilts ranging from the Lancaster quilts to the Midwestern quilts and more.
Lancaster County in Pennsylvania is a major hub for the creation of Amish quilts. These quilts are known for their high level of manufacturing quality, artistry and of course beauty. Amish quilts are handmade and for those looking for something unique and charming Amish quilts are tough to match. In an era where a large percentage of clothing and bedding is machine made, cheap and considered to be temporary in nature, Amish quilts truly stand out in beauty, durability and value.
MultiPurpose Items for the Home
There also exists a greater level of variety to Amish quilts than many suspect. Amish quilts are not simply for bedding, but for many other purposes as well. For example, Amish quilts are often used as wall decorations, decorative throws and even for infant bedding.
The focus on quality materials help ensure not just the durability of Amish quilts but also the warmth of Amish quilts. Consumers looking for a warm bedding that will stand the test of time will quickly discover that Amish quilts are a true winner. Cotton is typically used and bright colors are often blended for what can be called a dazzling effect.
A Stunning Array of Varieties
When it comes to styling, beautiful Amish quilts have several options including Amish color quilts, patchwork quilts and applique quilts. Amish color quilts help dispel the notion that the Amish don’t embrace color. When it comes to their quilts and the use of quilts as a form of decoration, Amish quilts can safely be called breathtaking. Through a process of carefully blending geometric patterns and colors, Amish quilt makers achieve end results that are often called hypnotic.
Star, square and diamond patterns are often seen in Amish quilts. Many new to Amish quilts are surprised by the level of geometric complexity that is clearly on display in Amish quilting. This complexity also serves to underscore why Amish quilts are often more expensive than many other quilt options. In terms of complexity, that complexity is strikingly evident in patchwork quilts. The complexity of Amish quilts reaches a whole new level when it comes to patchwork quilts. These large quilts help to showcase just how much creativity, artistry and beauty Amish quilts can provide. While usually more expensive than other types of Amish quilts, patchwork quilts often demonstrate what is possible in Amish quilting.
Another beautiful type of Amish quilt, one that also displays the great creativity and artistry of a quilting master, is the embroidered Amish quilts. Embroidered Amish quilting takes many years to master and can provide for simply stunning results.
A Gift that Will Never Disappoint
Those looking for a surprising and unforgettable gift will find that an Amish quilt offers something truly amazing. Having a gift that is overlooked or forgotten is an unpleasant experience and this is yet another way in which Amish quilts are different. Amish quilts make for a fantastic gift because they always get used. Their beautify and functionality ensures that Amish quilts are never forgotten. If you are looking for a way to add warmth to your home or the home of a loved one then a beautiful Amish quilt is an excellent option.
More than Just a Pretty Face
The simple fact is that a true Amish quilt is labor intensive. Not only is an Amish quilt made by hand, but it is also the product of years of hands on experience. A wonderful Amish quilt is the result of a master who has invest years in learning the craft. In short, Amish quilts are not quickly produced. Instead, each and every Amish quilt is a unique, one-of-a-kind creation and work of art. In many ways, Amish quilts stand as one of the single best art investment one can make. These functional works of art are more than just a pretty face.
May 20th, 2016
Art and Hope Wells in Chicago got a Laurie’s Leg Dining Table and Denver Dining Chairs in oak with wheat stain. The sturdy set looks plain, which augments the fun character of their colorful classic dining area. Here’s Art at the table:
Thanks for the great shot, Art.
”Our table and chairs make for great dinner parties!”—Art Wells
May 14th, 2016
Kurt from Arkansas got a new rustic cherry dining set with Boston stain. This Shaker set includes Carlisle Dining Chairs and the Carlisle Oval Dining Table. According to Kurt, shopping for the dining set was easy:
I found the website both informative and easy to use in making selections. All questions I had were answered by Laura on your 800 number, and she gave me some good tips on wood and stain selections. Love my table, bench, and stools!
For the curious, the bench and stools are a Carlisle Trestle Bench and Scoop Bar Stools.
Here are Kurt’s table and chairs in his carefully molded dining room: