CELEBRATING 30 YEARS!1989 - 2019

Wood Outdoor Furniture: Cleaning and Care

07/08/2019
by Katie Eckelberry

Wood Outdoor Furniture - Header - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Summer is finally here. It’s time for late nights under the stars and lazy days spent soaking in the sun. And what better way to enjoy the summer than with your wood outdoor furniture. But there are a few care tips and tricks you should know to keep your furniture in tip-top shape.

Before we get into specifics, though, it’s important to note that there are different rules for different woods. Most often, our wood outdoor furniture is constructed from pressure-treated pine; however, we do offer several pieces made from cypress. Be sure to follow the correct instructions for your species of wood.

Plain Settee Glider - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Cleaning

When it comes to cleaning your wood outdoor furniture, the process is fairly simple. You can power wash your piece, but remember to always follow the grain of the wood and to keep your pressure low as too high of a pressure can remove the finish or cut into the wood. We recommend a setting between 500 to 600 psi for when cleaning pine and cypress furniture, and the nozzle should be kept about a foot away from the surface of the furniture at all times. Before beginning to clean your piece, you may want to test your settings on a discreet area first to be sure that you are not going to damage the wood. From there, you can increase or decrease the pressure as needed.

If you wish to avoid the risk of power washing or don’t have access to a power washer, a soft brush and non-bleach cleaner make for a more than adequate substitute. Gently scrub the piece and rinse: that’s all there is to it!

 Luxcraft 4ft Classic Highback Swing - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

To minimize the amount of cleaning necessary and protect your wood furniture, we advise that you store any wood furniture inside during the winter months. If you can’t do that, we recommend that you try to cover it using a tarp or cloth. Keeping your furniture safe from the winter elements will go a long way in helping to preserve your furniture and keep it in the best shape possible.


Finishing and Care

Pressure-treated Pine (PTP) is the best wood we have found for pieces that will be exposed outdoors. The pressure-treating process injects chemicals into the wood that help with insect and decay resistance. That being said, pieces made from PTP still need to be finished to provide the best protection and longevity. Your piece needs to be well finished initially, and afterwards, we recommend refinishing every other year for as long as you have the piece. 

Luxcraft Octagon Picnic Table - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

When finishing pressure-treated pine, you want to use a penetrating deck stain, not paint, so it can absorb into the wood. There are many different brands of deck stain, so when shopping for a product to use, inform a sales associate that you are finishing a pressure-treated pine item; they should be able to direct you to the best product for your project. From there, simply follow the instructions on the finishing product with regards to sanding, preparation, etc.

Cypress, on the other hand, can be either stained or painted. However, cypress does best when it is in a covered area, not totally exposed. If you choose to leave a cypress piece totally exposed, it will need to be well finished when you first purchase it and then refinished every year thereafter.

If you choose to finish your piece yourself, be sure to pay attention to the climate before tackling the project. Stain should not be applied in direct sunlight or on a wood surface that is hot to the touch. You’ll want to pick a day when there is no rain predicted in the immediate future and the temperature will be no higher than 95°F (35°C) and no lower than 50°F (10°C). Keep in mind, the finish may require between 48 and 72 hours to fully dry, so you’ll have to wait a bit before using your furniture again.

 Luxcraft Double Lawn Glider - Rose Lattice Roof - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

In addition to the need for refinishing, exposure to rain/sun cycles will cause wood furniture to expand and contract. This natural process can lead to hardware (bolts, screws, etc.) becoming loose over time. So, periodically, you should check and retighten any loose fasteners as necessary. To prevent any unwanted warping, be sure to place your furniture on a level surface. If furniture is left to sit on an uneven surface for a long period of time, it can wrack permanently out of shape.

Cypress Garden Table - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Wood outdoor furniture is beautiful, comfortable, and cost-effective. But there are few things you need to do to guard your furniture against unwelcome wear and tear. Practicing these suggestions will ensure that your wood furniture is with you for many summers to come. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the outdoor wood furniture available at Geitgey’s Amish Country Furnishings, feel free to call, email, or visit. Our sales team would be happy to help you with any concerns you may have.

Live Edge Furniture: Natural Beauty, Effortless Style

06/21/2019
by Katie Eckelberry

Live Edge Furniture - Header - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

These days, there’s a trend growing in interior design: live edge furniture. You’ve probably heard of it before or even seen a few pieces on your favorite design show. With its popularity increasing, you may be asking yourself: what exactly is live edge furniture? Well, look no further; this blog has the information you need.

Live Edge Office Console - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

What is Live Edge Furniture?

In the most basic of terms, "live edge" refers to furniture that maintains the natural curvature of the tree from which it was sourced; it is furniture built from lumber that has selectively not been milled completely, particularly along its edges, allowing the unique organic shape of the wood to remain intact. Manufacturers will typically remove the bark, given that it will dry out and fall away anyway. Additionally, the live edges are lightly sanded in order to create a smooth finish and prevent any potential snagging hazards.

Live Edge Counter Table - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Since their first introduction to the design scene, live edge table tops have almost always been considered "rustic" given their more natural finish which highlights the grain and texture of the wood; as a result, live edge tops have often been paired with stump bases. However, in more recent times, many unique styles of metal bases have been blended with the live edge to create more contemporary interpretations and offer a variety of options that can fit any style.

The species of wood used for live edge furniture can vary, but in our store, we mostly feature Black Walnut, Wormy Maple, and Hard Maple. You will also occasionally find that we have Sycamore, White Oak, Red Oak, and Cherry available.


How Is Live Edge Made?

There are three methods of producing live edge furniture. The first method utilizes a solid slab of wood from the tree. In this process, the tree is cut longitudinally, and the cuts closest to the center yield broader slabs while the cuts further from the center yield increasingly narrow slabs. The tree itself will determine the width and shape of the slab. The thickness of the slab can vary with the preference of the sawyer, but typical final slab thicknesses will run anywhere from 1" thick to 2" thick with many coming in at about 1-⅝" thick.

Live Edge - Slab - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Occasionally, during the drying process, solid slabs will split. When this occurs, "bow ties" of wood or metal may be inlaid flush over the splits in order to stabilize them and create aesthetic interest, incorporating the split into the natural look of the table. Alternatively, a resin or fill can also be used in the void which can add interest. Additionally, sometimes, very unique slabs can be produced by incorporating the "crotch" of the tree--the place where large branches separate from the main trunk, as seen in the image above.

The slab versions of live edge furniture usually are the most expensive because they require the sourcing of a specimen tree or slab, but they are often the most interesting and unique because they allow for the full variation inherent in the tree.

The second method for producing live edge table tops is involves "book matching." This means that two adjacent pieces of wood are cut from the tree and subsequently reversed or mirrored to each other, like the pages of a book.

Live Edge - Book Matching - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

The resulting piece has a beautiful mirrored grain match down the center of the table and is twice the width of the individual slabs used to create it while maintaining the natural characteristics on both outside edges.

The book-matched versions of live edge furniture usually are slightly less expensive than the full-slab versions because you can be more efficient with a smaller tree, while still providing lots of interesting, natural variations.

The third and final method requires "planking" or "gluing up." This is the same process that has been used for years to make most table tops. Essentially, through this procedure, planks of wood are sandwiched together to make one solid piece. When it comes to using this method for live edge, the two outside planks simple have their natural edge left intact to create the live edge effect.

Live Edge - Planking - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

The benefit of this method is that it allows for a more standardized size. Table tops can be mostly held to a tolerance of one to two inches within the desired width. Meaning, that if you want a table that is 42 inches wide, with the planking method, the table will generally be no narrower than 40 inches or wider than 44 inches at any point.

Planked or glued-up versions of live edge furniture are generally the least expensive to produce, as they can be engineered to a more uniform dimension and shape. As such, they may have less variation than their full-slab or bookmatch counterparts but can still provide striking and beautiful furniture.

Live Edge Bench - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Every piece of live edge furniture is different; you’ll never find two pieces that are exactly alike.  However it is made, live edge furniture is a one-of-a-kind heirloom and a bold statement for your living room, dining room, bedroom, or wherever you may choose to place your piece. If you have questions or would like to learn more about the live edge furniture offered by Geitgey’s Amish Country Furnishings in Dublin, we invite you to call, click, or visit! Our team is here to help and would be happy to discuss our range of live edge products with you.

Caring For Your Amish Hardwood Furniture

06/14/2019
by Katie Eckelberry

Amish Hardwood Furniture - Header - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Buying a new piece of furniture is a big investment. You’re spending your hard-earned money on this furniture, so of course you want to be sure that it is something that will last for years to come. With Amish hardwood furniture, there is no doubt about durability. Handcrafted with precision and time-honed expertise, a piece of Amish-built furniture can be passed down from generation to generation, but there are some essential bits of care on your part that will keep your hardwood furniture looking beautiful well into the future.


The Basics

Before we get to talking about caring for your furniture, it’s important to first take a moment to discuss what exactly hardwood furniture is. The basic hardwoods utilized in our furniture are Oak (both Regular-sawn Oak and Quarter-sawn Oak), Cherry, Walnut, Maple (both Hard Maple and Brown/Soft Maple), and Hickory, but some of our vendors also work with Pine, Elm, and Figured Maples such as Curly or Tiger. Each of these woods is then available in a variety of stains, which can be viewed here.

Wood Samples - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

All of the hardwood lumber used in the furniture we offer is air-dried and kiln-dried to control the moisture content. You will find very few places in Amish furniture where anything other than solid hardwood is used. The exceptions are usually the backs of the case goods and the bottoms of drawers, where plywood is often used. The sides of drawers are frequently made from poplar, which is still a quality hardwood, and shelving or decking that is hidden behind doors or face-framing may sometimes be made from poplar or plywood as well.

Amish Hardwood Furniture - Drawer Detail - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

In addition to a stain or paint which provides the color, our pieces are finished with a catalyzed conversion varnish that sets up hard and is water-, alcohol-, and heat-resistant. This finish is applied using a spraying technique to ensure a smooth, even finish that is free of brush marks.


Everyday Care and Cleaning

The aforementioned finishing makes our furniture resistant to spills and minor mishaps, so there’s no need to sweat the small stuff. You can set a glass of water on a table top without having to worry that the condensation will leave an unsightly white ring on the table; though, of course, we don’t recommend leaving water or any liquid to sit on your wood furniture for an extended period of time.

For everyday cleaning and dusting, a simple damp cloth works well. Regular polishing with a polish that does not contain wax, silicone, solvents, or abrasives is recommended. Our polishing product of choice is Guardsman®.

Amish Hardwood Furniture - Shaker Harvest Dining Set - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

For small nicks and scratches, there are a number of home remedies that can be used for touch-ups, such as a child's crayon of the appropriate shade or even coffee grounds. There are also many "scratch covering" polishes and touch-up markers available at better hardware stores. Just be sure to apply whatever solution you choose in the same direction as the scratch.

However, we feel it’s also important to mention that solid hardwood furniture is furniture that you can live with. It should be incorporated into your household and used just as vigorously as a favorite sofa. Any incidental scratches or nicks should not be cause for alarm but should serve as a reminder that we buy furniture to be used and with regular use comes a little wear and tear that gives a piece character and endears it to us. Just practicing a few basic care techniques can ensure your furniture wears beautifully for years to come.


The Dos and Don'ts

To make caring for your hardwood furniture as simple possible, there are a few dos and don’ts that you’ll want to keep in mind. Firstly, place your furniture on a flat, even surface. If furniture is left to sit on a surface that is not level, it will wrack permanently out of shape over time, causing drawers or doors to stick or hang unevenly. When moving your furniture, pick it up rather than dragging it across the floor. Dragging furniture stresses joints unnecessarily and can cause them to loosen.

When it comes to cleaning your furniture, always apply your polish to the rag and not directly to the furniture and take care to wipe in the same direction as the grain. Avoid any spray polishes or polishes that contain wax, silicone, or ammonia. As mentioned, we recommend using the Guardsman® range of products for polishing.

Amish Hardwood Furniture - Cooper TV Stand - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Additionally, try to keep any corrosive substances, such as nail polish remover, away from your hardwood furniture as any spills or contact with the wood could ruin the finish. If you do ever spill anything on your furniture, clean it as quickly as possible, using a blotting motion, not a wiping motion.

Be aware: all woods and stains will naturally change color with age and light exposure; in particular, cherry wood and lighter stains will darken noticeably over time. To avoid any undesirable patches or silhouettes on your furniture, be sure to periodically adjust any décor that sits atop the hardwood surface, and in the case of dining tables, rotate any table leaves to ensure even aging.

In terms of the environment, there are a few variables you’ll want to be mindful of. Because wood is a natural material, it swells and shrinks with changes in humidity, and an unstable humidity will cause your furniture to warp, dry out, or crack over time. Ideally, the humidity in your home should be kept between 40% to 45%.

Amish Hardwood Furniture - Hawthorne Desk - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Placing your furniture in direct sunlight will cause the color to fade and may harm the finish. Likewise, don’t place your furniture near a direct source of heat, such as a register; exposure to this kind of heat can cause the furniture to dry out and crack.

Speaking of heat, avoid placing any hot items, such as dishes or even pizza boxes, directly on the surface of your furniture. You should always, when possible, place something over the wood surface to protect it. That means coasters on your coffee table, placemats and tablecloths on your dining table, and felt pads on any piece you might set on your end table or nightstand. But try to avoid using plastic or rubber placemats or tablecloths as these materials could potentially react with and discolor the finish.

Also be mindful that many ceramic items (plates, mugs, etc.) may have an abrasive ring on the bottom where they are unable to be glazed when going into the kiln. These unglazed areas act like a fine sandpaper and can scratch your finish when slid around on a hardwood surface. Using placemats or coasters can help to prevent this type of damage.

Amish Hardwood Furniture - Ledgerock Bookcase - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Amish hardwood furniture is built to last, but some work on your part is necessary to keep it at its best. We hope this guide can provide you with a comprehensive understanding of how to best care for your hardwood furniture and ensure that it looks beautiful and functions for your family for years to come. If you have any further questions or would like to learn more about the hardwood furniture available at Geitgey’s Amish Country Furnishings, feel free to call, email, or visit. Our knowledgeable sales team would be happy to assist you in any way possible.

Poly Outdoor Furniture: Cleaning and Care

05/28/2019
by Katie Eckelberry

When it comes to poly outdoor furniture, there's not much work to be done to keep it functioning and looking just like new. It doesn’t need to be stained, finished, or sealed (in fact, applying any sort of coating will ruin the poly lumber), but like most things in life, a little bit of cleaning and care every now and then is necessary. This guide offers a few quick tips and tricks for preserving your poly furniture.

Luxcraft Poly Deluxe Conversation Table - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Cleaning

Thankfully, since it is a plastic material, poly furniture doesn’t require any special cleaning products. Just a bit of soap and water will do the trick, and there are a few ways you can go about the cleaning process.

The best method for cleaning your poly is to use a power washer to hose the piece down. But do be careful if you choose to wash this way. The power washer should be put on a lower setting (1,500 psi or lower)  and be kept a reasonable distance, about a foot, from the furniture. If you get too close or use too high of a power setting, you run the risk of cutting into the poly lumber or raising the fibers.

Luxcraft Poly 5' Adirondack Glider - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

If you don’t have a power washer or just would prefer not to use one, you can always clean your poly by hand. With a soft-bristled brush, water, and a non-abrasive, non-bleach cleaner, like dish soap, you can gently scrub the surface of your poly chair, table, swing, etc. to remove any built-up dirt and grime.

Due to its durable material, poly furniture can be left outside through winter without deterioration or damage, and the fasteners, all crafted from stainless steel or aluminium, will not rust. But if you do choose to leave your furniture exposed to the elements, inevitably there will be more cleaning to be done when springtime comes. To reduce the necessary clean-up, we recommend that, if at all possible, you cover your poly furniture or store it inside during the winter months.

Luxcraft Poly Deluxe Adirondack Chair - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Care

Aside from keeping your poly looking good, there are a few things you can do to ensure that it’s in tip-top working order as well. The first suggestion is rather straightforward: keep the piece on a level surface. Poly, due to its material, will flex more than wood. Our builders have learned to use this to their advantage, making the furniture more comfortable and form-fitting and allowing the poly to develop a slight contour over time, especially in a seating surface. However, by the same token, if a piece is left to sit on an uneven surface, it can cause the frame to wrack permanently out of shape over time. Therefore, it is important that, wherever you choose to place your piece, you make certain it is sitting flat to avoid any unwanted warping.

Another simple piece of advice to prevent any harm from coming to your poly furniture is to be aware of any potential heat on the poly surface. Poly lumber can withstand the heat from the sun and high summer temperatures, but it is ultimately a plastic substance, so the application of direct heat from items such as errant fire embers or cigarette butts could cause melting or burning if left on the poly’s surface.

At the start of every season, it is also a good idea to check your furniture for any loose bolts or screws and tighten them as necessary. Be sure not to overtighten as stainless steel fasteners are more likely to break when over-torqued. If you have a poly glider, the glider bearings may also periodically need a bit of machine oil to keep them operating smoothly.

Luxcraft Poly 5' Plain Swing - Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings

Poly furniture is essentially maintenance-free; it will last for years and years with minimal upkeep. But through small acts of care and cleaning, you can ensure that your poly furniture stays looking and performing at its best for a long time to come. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the poly furniture available at Geitgey’s Amish Country Furnishings, check out our blog! Or feel free to call, email, or visit. Our knowledgeable sales team would be happy to assist you in any way possible.

Amish Poly Outdoor Furniture: Style Meets Strength & Sustainability

05/14/2019
by Katie Eckelberry

What is Poly Outdoor Furniture?

When people hear the phrase “Amish furniture,” they often think of solid wood tables, benches, chairs, and more, all handcrafted with care and precision. Of course, having these associations is certainly not wrong, but these days, there is another material stepping into the Amish outdoor furniture scene: poly lumber.

Poly lumber is a fantastic outdoor building material that is composed of 90%-100% post-consumer recycled plastic content and is available in a wide range of colors. This lumber is manufactured within the USA through a four-step, quality-controlled process which removes any impurities from the recycled materials and ensures a uniform, durable product. The advantages of using this material are numerous and significant.


Poly Furniture Vs. Wood Furniture

Poly lumber can be worked and fashioned much as traditional wood lumber is, and it is available in several wood tones with an embossed wood grain to give the look and feel of wood, but there are a few vital differences between poly and wood that give our poly outdoor furniture an advantage over its wooden counterpart.

Due to its plastic composition, poly lumber is a much more malleable material than wood, allowing it to be shaped and molded into countless stylish designs that would be difficult or nearly impossible to achieve with a wood product. This flexibility also results in increased comfort as the material contours to your body in a way that wood simply cannot, and the use of recycled plastic materials rather than wood allows for a product which boasts tremendous strength and durability while remaining lightweight and easy to move.


Environmentally Friendly

 

If you’ve ever wondered what happens to all those milk jugs you toss in the recycling bin, wonder no more. Our supplier buys and recycles thousands of tons of consumer plastic waste every year to produce the high-quality poly lumber that is used by our local vendors. This process prevents massive amounts of non-biodegradable products from ending up in our landfills and oceans, and the end product is recyclable as well. When you purchase a piece of outdoor furniture crafted from poly materials, you are making a smart decision not only for your backyard but for the environment as well.


Maintenance Free

While the look of wood furniture is undeniably beautiful, keeping it looking good is no easy task and usually requires a fair amount of work on your part. With poly furniture, there’s no headache to be had because the need for routine maintenance is virtually non-existent. There is no sealing, no staining, no yearly upkeep required; just hose it down or give it a scrub with some soap and water when needed, and your chair, swing, bench, etc. is ready to go!

Durable and Weather Resistant

Wicked winters and scorching summers, downpours and droughts: you name the natural phenomenon, poly furniture can withstand it. Unlike wood, poly furniture does not naturally deteriorate over time; it is resistant to moisture, bugs, stains, warping, rot, mold, and many other common wood ailments. No pesky splinters to be had here! Even the hardware on each piece is designed to be corrosion-resistant and stand the test of both time and weather. An investment in a piece of poly furniture is an investment that will last for years to come.


Stabilized Color

It can be rather frustrating to watch as the wood of your outdoor furniture inevitably greys and fades with time and exposure to the elements, but the color pigments in our poly furniture are specially formulated to limit the breakdown of the particles due to sun and weather exposure. That means the vibrant color of your poly furniture is here to stay for years and years, and with so many color options available, the possibilities are endless!

 

Outdoor furniture made from poly lumber may not be your first thought when you think of Amish-built furniture, but it is an up-and-coming material with remarkable benefits, superior resilience, and reliable quality. If you have questions or would like to learn more about the poly furniture offered by Geitgey’s Amish Country Furnishings in Dublin, we invite you to call, click, or visit! Our team is here to help and would be happy to discuss our range of poly products with you.

Amish Leather Furniture: A Lesson In Quality

08/11/2016
by Katie Eckelberry

Leather as a Material

Like most products, leather upholstery is available at many price points. However, this variation in price is a significant reflection of the quality of the product. As always, corners can be cut in construction--such as using no-sag springs instead of eight-way hand-tied springs--but these small construction differences cannot account entirely for the price variations. Rather, the price variations lie in the quality of the leather itself.

How to Identify Quality Leather Furniture

Obviously, the most important factor in determining the quality of leather upholstered furniture is determining the quality of the leather itself. You will often find that retailers advertise "All Leather" upholstery, but this is a misleading statement as leather is a generic term that refers to any tanned animal skin. The actual animal skin can be cow, buffalo, pig, etc., so it is not safe to assume that all leathers are created equal. Likewise, there are many methods of tanning and finishing available, so leathers can be remarkably different even if they are from the same animal species.

You will find that there is a tremendous difference in the appearance and texture of leathers from different animals. Cowhide is preferable for use in upholstery because it has the most desirable appearance and texture or "hand", which is a term often used to describe the feel of the leather. The grain of cowhide tends to be smooth, lending itself to a soft hand. Other animal hides are stiffer and coarser grained and, therefore, are not a desirable upholstery material. Often, inferior leather upholstery will be made of stiffer leathers such as a pig or water buffalo.

Now that you understand differences in leather obtained from different animals, you should know there can also be differences in the types of leather that are obtained from cows. The term cowhide refers to any leather made from cow skins, but there are variations in the quality of cowhides as well.

Top Grain Leather vs. Split Hides

When a cowhide is processed, the skin is removed in one layer. Later at the tannery, the outer layer of skin is separated from the layers of skin. It is shaved off and is usually 3/64" thick, about the thickness of a coin. This outer layer of skin is referred to as the "top grain" and the other layers of skin are referred to as "split hides".

The top grain is best suited to upholstery because it is the strongest and most durable part of the hide, yet it is soft and supple. In fact, top grain becomes more supple over the years and develops a soft patina. If properly cared for, top grain leather upholstery should last indefinitely.

 

The split hides are coarser and stiffer and tend to crack more easily. The average wearing time of split hides is 5 years. Split hides are better suited to the garment industry to make shoes, handbags, belts, etc. which are not expected to last more than a season or two.

Cheaper leather upholstery is often made of split hides instead of top grain leather. Manufacturers often use split hides as they are cheaper per square foot, and they offer a greater product yield than top grain leather. Because it is the outside layer of skin, top grain leather tends to have more scars and surface blemishes than split hides. An average cowhide is approximately 50 to 55 square feet, but only 70% of this area can be used from a top grain hide. However, since split hides have fewer flaws than top grain, 90% or more of the hide is suitable for use; there is much less waste per hide, only 10% or less, and thus a much greater yield per square foot. 

Obviously, the advantage of using split hides is the substantial savings in the cost of the leather; however, those savings are directly responsible for the poor quality and wearability of the leather. If you want leather upholstery that lasts, top grain leather is your best bet.

 
If you would like to learn more about the leather furniture offered by Geitgey’s Amish Country Furnishings in Dublin, we invite you to call, click, or visit.  We would be glad to show you our quality line of McKinley Leather furniture and their expansive selection of leather materials and answer any questions you may have!

Amish Wood Furniture: Determining Durability

05/16/2016
by Katie Eckelberry

 Which woods and finishes are most durable?

We are frequently asked this question in the store and like so many things in life the answer is...it depends!

There are five main factors that determine how well the surfaces of your wood furniture from Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings will wear:
1.  What is the hardness or density of the wood? The scientific name for this is "specific gravity."
2.  What is the grain texture of the wood?
3.  What stain color are you choosing for the wood?
4.  What is the finish treatment being used?
5.  What is the application of the piece of furniture?

Let's examine each of these items in order to help you make your best choice. Here are the domestic species of hardwoods that we offer in descending order of hardness: Hickory, Red Oak, Hard Maple, Walnut, White Elm, Cherry, Brown Maple. The hardness of the wood could matter when you have a surface that might get a repeated amount of physical abuse - like a tabletop or desktop that is exposed to lots of dropped or dragged items that would otherwise dent a softer wood more easily.

But the reality is that almost all woods can be dinged, dented, and scratched, so we feel it's even more important to consider the grain texture of the wood you are choosing because the texture is what will determine how well the wood can camouflage the inevitable ding, dent, or scratch. Coarse-grained woods like Oak and Hickory will do a much better job of hiding damage than finer grained woods like Brown Maple or Cherry. Oak and Hickory also tend to have a lot of "movement" or pattern in the wood that can also serve to hide scratches. Many of the fine-grained woods can be very glass-like and reflective, especially when placed underneath a pendant light or in front of a bay window as you would with a kitchen table, but while these are certainly beautiful woods, they will typically reveal more of the daily wear.

Also contributing to how well scratches and dings can be concealed is the color of the stain that is chosen for your furniture. Dark colors have been trendy and popular for some time now, but dark stains such as Onyx, Espresso, Rich Brown, and Java as well as black paint are bound to show scratches and dings more easily. Think of the analogy that a dark or black colored car is harder to keep clean than a lighter colored car. These dark stains will also require more frequent dusting and cleaning.

Considering the proper finish treatment is also important when choosing your furniture options. We are not necessarily talking about the type of finish here, as all of our furniture is already finished with a catalyzed conversion varnish which is a very durable finish (More information on this finish can be found in this short video: Conversion Varnish Video). What we really mean by treatment is whether the piece is finished "pristine" or "distressed."

Pristine is when a piece is stained or painted and then simply top-coated and left in a more or less flawless or unblemished state. Distressing occurs when we add tooling detail (dings, dents, faux powder-post beetle holes, edge sanding, etc.) that give the furniture the appearance of having some age and use. Distressing can take the anxiety out of the first ding you might inflict upon your furniture yourself and make the piece a more livable and relaxed addition to your home.

We also have the option on many of our species to use a "rustic" or "character" grading of the lumber that will allow for more knots, mineral inclusions, and imperfections in the wood than a select grade of the same species might allow. In addition, we can also use roughsawn or planking effects to further add to the character of a piece and to make it look like a well-loved part of the household.

Finally, consider the application of your furniture. Just because an interior designer on a television show said that you need a dark pedestal table with a high-gloss finish in your kitchen does not mean your four year old will respect that decision! Oily handprints and fork marks will win in the end. Know that furniture is fashion, yes, but furniture is also where your family gathers, eats, sleeps, works, and relaxes.

Considering all of the above factors when making your purchases of hardwood furniture will help to ensure you enjoy your furniture for many years to come.

As always, the staff at Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings in Dublin is glad to help with questions related to this article or any other matter. Just call, email, or stop in anytime!

Quality Bedroom Furniture: What to Look For

05/16/2016
by Katie Eckelberry
What to look for in quality bedroom furniture
So you're in the market for a new bedroom suite, and you want to make sure you buy a set with lasting quality, but what should you look for to ensure you're getting your money's worth? Here are a few handy tips for sorting the sturdy from the shoddy when it comes to bedroom furniture.
 
What To Look For
The first question you should ask is "What is the furniture made of?" The best materials will be solid hardwood. Don’t be fooled by a statement that a piece is made from "solid wood." The term "solid wood" is increasingly being used to refer to materials that may have wood as a major component but may also include other materials (glues, sawdust, etc). You want a piece crafted from solid hardwood, which means that it is made from lumber that came from the tree in board form. These boards may have been glued-up edge to edge to form a larger panel or used by themselves for smaller components. Ask the salesperson to be clear; if it’s not solid hardwood, then you may be settling for a less than ideal material.

Finish

The next area of concern should be the finish. Here’s a checklist of things to look for:

  • Is the entire piece stained or painted in all areas that are visible (i.e. inside edges of feet, etc.)

  • Are insides of drawers finished/sealed?

  • Make sure there are no rough areas that were either missed in the sanding or where dust/particulate has settled into the topcoat.

  • Check to make sure there are no stain runs where the stain leaked back out of corners and joint lines before it had dried.

  • Look for finish "sagging" where the clear topcoat finish has been applied too heavily or too quickly and the finish runs as it is drying.

Construction

Next, you'll want to focus on construction. Each type of bedroom furniture has some specific benchmarks it should check off.

 

Beds

Regardless of the size (King, Queen, Full or Twin), you want your bed to be made with quality and attention to detail:

  • Look for wood side rails, not metal. The gauge of metal frequently used in mass-manufactured beds can bend and flex. A wood side rail will be more sturdy.

  • Check that the rails are attached to the headboard and footboard with at least two bolts through a substantial bracket at each end of the rail.

  • Look for wood cross slats that are held in place where they meet the side rails. The slats should be dovetailed/keyed in place or have an index hole with a dowel that will not allow them to slide off the cleat on the rail.

  • For King size beds, and some queens, make sure there are center supports for the slats; this prevents the slats and therefore the mattress from sagging over time.

Case Goods

Whether it’s a dresser, chest of drawers, armoire, or nightstand, the same hallmarks of quality will apply:

  • Avoid furniture that has a single, center mount drawer slide. This will quickly break and cause the drawer to be an aggravation. Look for two slides - one on each side of the drawer or one on each bottom side of the drawer. Look for types that feature a ball-bearing or spring/piston system. Ask the salesperson to demonstrate to you how easy it is to remove and replace the drawers.

  • Check to make sure the drawers are dovetailed, front and back. Clarify that it's an English dovetail, not a French dovetail.  

  • Make sure that the decorative hardware is drilled properly - i.e. that the backside of the drawer or door face is not splintered out where the drill bit came through. Is the hardware placed appropriately and even?

  • If the piece has doors, check to make sure that the hinges are a type that allows for adjustment. For large doors, make sure that the hinges are heavy-duty enough and that there are the appropriate number and placement of hinges to keep the doors from sagging and not hanging level.

  • Speaking of level, larger case goods should have levelers that will allow you to make sure the piece sits level, even on an uneven floor. Allowing a case good to sit unleveled for years will permanently rack the frame and result in frustration with doors and drawers not working properly.

 

While this article is in no way a comprehensive quality checklist of what to look for when shopping for bedroom furniture, it can serve as a starting point to help you buy with confidence!  We’ll be honest and admit that we are a bit biased in believing that Amish-built furniture is superior to the mass-manufactured furniture offered by the big box stores. But if you’re looking to meet the aforementioned standards of outstanding quality and craftsmanship, Amish bedroom suites are the way to go. Handcrafted with care and precision, you can be sure that your Amish furniture is made to last and will look beautiful for years to come.


As always if you ever want to know more about the quality furniture available at Geitgey’s Amish Country Furnishings in Dublin please don’t hesitate to call, click, or visit. Our sales team is here to help and happy to answer any questions you may have!

Amish Furniture: Spring Cleaning

05/12/2016
by Katie Eckelberry

The arrival of warmer weather here in Ohio inspires us all to engage in that annual rite: a little spring cleaning around the house. Your handmade Amish furniture from Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings will benefit from a little spring TLC as well. Read on for a list of helpful hints on keeping your furniture beautiful and functional for years to come!

Outdoor Furniture

If you have purchased our poly lumber outdoor furniture then you have it pretty easy! We recommend an occasional power washing to remove dirt and build-up, then just check all hardware (screws, bolts, nuts) and tighten as necessary.

If you have wood outdoor furniture, we recommend that it be refinished every two years and touched-up every year. Wood outdoor furniture especially needs to have the hardware checked and tightened more frequently as the changes in temperature and humidity cause the wood to expand and contract and this will loosen hardware over time.

Tables

If you use your dining table every day you may eventually get a build-up of food and oils that needs to be removed. You can try using a cleaner like our Guardsman Cleaner to remove this build-up, or you can try another product. Just remember these tips: test in an inconspicuous area first, always apply the product to your rag first rather than directly to the furniture and wipe with the grain to avoid abrasions. These same tips apply when you polish your furniture as well. We recommend a polish that is free of wax or silicone so it will not build-up on your furniture (please check the label on your product). Guardsman Polish is an excellent choice for polishing all your hardwood furniture, and we sell a full line of the Guardsman products at the store.

If your table has leaves, it's a good time to open up the table and clean the inside edges of the table and any leaves where food or residue from spills may have run into the seams. You'll also want to clean out the expansion mechanism, whether a gear style or telescoping style, to keep it free of food debris; a vacuum cleaner wand may be good for this purpose so you can draw debris out of the grooves. When done, lightly wax the slides with paraffin wax (a bar of soap will also work) to keep the slides lubricated. Finally, check that the table is level with a bubble level and adjust the leveling feet on the bottoms of the feet as needed.

Chairs

If your dining chairs are placed on hardwood and you use a felt or cork pad to protect the floor, now is a good time to check and see if any pads need replacing. Kids are especially hard on chairs with spills and residue (follow our advice under tables above regarding how to clean off food residue). Pay particular attention to the top crest rail and side posts of the chair where oils from hands are most likely to accumulate.

Check to see if the joints of your chair are coming loose anywhere; if so, it may be time to bring them to our service department to be re-glued. This is something that has to be redone periodically on all chairs and is critical for the integrity of the joinery and the longevity of the chair. We can advise if a complete or partial re-glue is necessary.

Case Goods (Dressers, Chests, TV Stands, Cabinets, etc.)

Check that these pieces are sitting level with a bubble level and adjust the leveling feet on the bottoms of the feet as needed. If no leveling feet are present, use wood or plastic shims that can be purchased at home improvement stores and cut or snapped to the appropriate length needed.

It is important for pieces with doors or drawers to sit level so that the doors will hang evenly and the drawers will track properly. Allowing a piece to sit out of level for an extended period of time can rack the frame permanently and compromise the integrity of how the piece functions and appears.

Beds

Check to make sure that your bed is square (i.e. that the rails or frame are at a right angle to the headboard and or footboard). The number one cause of a squeaky bed is a bed that has been knocked out of square by dragging it to one side when cleaning or moving it. This places the connecting hardware and end of the rail in a bind where it can rub and make for an annoying squeak.

Also, check to make sure that all connecting hardware is tight; tighten with a wrench or socket as necessary. Make sure that all slats are in place and laying flat so they can provide support and that any "center feet" that run from the underside of the slat to the floor are at a right angle to the slat and not turned askew from the bed being dragged sideways.

Mattresses and Box Springs

We recommend that if you have a flippable mattress (sleep deck on both sides of mattress) that you flip it every three months. The mattress should be alternated between flipping it both "end-for-end" and "side-over-side" to maintain the most even wear. If you have a "no flip" mattress (sleep deck on just one side) then you should just be rotating it "side-over-side" every three months. Box springs are usually built as "no flip" so just rotate them "side-over-side" as well. Inspect all tickings for any loose threads or seams or signs of a spring or edge wire coming through.

By the way, the average person probably keeps their mattress much longer than they should. If your mattress is older than 7-10 years, it may be time for a new one. Mattresses increase an average of 5-10 lbs. in weight with retained sweat, dust mites, etc., and while the spring systems will probably last as long as the warranty states, there will be a degradation of support prior to that. Got a backache or unexplained skin irritation? It just might be your mattress!

Upholstered Furniture (Sofas, Chairs, Ottomans, etc.)

Give your upholstered furniture a thorough vacuuming every month as well as an aggressive fluffing of the pillows and cushions. Back cushions may occasionally need to be taken out of their zippered cases to be fluffed and then reinserted and re-positioned within the casing. Check the undersides of the furniture periodically to see that the cambric cloth (usually black) or other lining material is intact and has not been pulled off by pets or roughhousing.

Also, check that any feet are solid and screwed into place as they can become dislodged or backed out with the movement of the piece across the floor. Treat any stains with a fabric spot cleaner and condition leather periodically with a leather conditioner/cleaner, but be sure to always test in an inconspicuous area first.

General cabinetry and furniture parts (doors, drawers, etc.)

Check doors and drawers to see if they are hanging level. If not, make sure the piece is level as indicated above. If a piece is level (or cabinet is a fixed built-in), check the door hinges to make sure all screws are tight. Most hinge styles also feature adjustment options that allow for a hinge position to be shifted slightly so that a door will close or hang better. Depending on the type of hinge this may manifest itself in the form of a slotted screw hole or an actual adjustment screw. Drawers should also be checked to see if they are level. Most drawer slides will have slotted holes that allow for small changes in the position of the drawer slide. If you have a drawer that drifts opens mysteriously, it is most likely caused by a cabinet that is not level and lists forward, an obstruction that has fallen behind the drawer, or a drawer slide that needs to be adjusted. Also, check all functional hardware (knobs, pulls) periodically and re-tighten as necessary.


Your busy household gives you no shortage of tasks to keep up with but taking the time to perform some of the above maintenance will keep your quality, Amish-crafted hardwood and upholstered furniture from Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings looking and performing its best. 

Amish Upholstered Furniture: The Quality Within

05/12/2016
by Katie Eckelberry

Identifying quality upholstered furniture

Upholstered furniture can be like a big question mark when it comes to determining how well it's made. Sure it looks great on the outside because it may have an appealing fabric and it seems to look OK, but what's on the inside?

Here at Geitgey's Amish Country Furnishings, we work hard to educate and help our clients be aware of what constitutes a quality piece of upholstered furniture. Whether it's comparing one of our new sofas or chairs to something else that is in the marketplace or trying to make a decision about whether it's worth reupholstering an older piece, let us walk you through the process to identifying quality.


Frame

This is the "bones" or skeleton of the piece and what you want to know here is if the frame is made from kiln-dried hardwood lumber. Much of today's value furniture is made with plywood framing, and this simply will not hold up. Hardwood frames will typically be made out of maple, oak, poplar, or birch. Ask the salesperson if the frame is hardwood, what species of wood was used, and if it has been kiln-dried to help reduce expansion and contraction due to moisture and temperature changes. Better yet, ask them if there is a cutaway sample available so you can see the construction for yourself.

Furthermore, ask about the joinery used to connect the framework. You want to know that the frame is screwed and glued and includes corner blocking; if the frame is stapled or pin-nailed it should probably be avoided. Sit in the furniture and exert some pressure on the back and arms by bracing your feet against the floor and pushing back with your back. Hear an excessive amount of cracking or feel too much give? Also, lift one end of the piece and try to flex it a little. A well-built frame should not flex or creak excessively during this test.

Finally, check the exposed wood details such as the feet. Where possible, it's best if they are integrated into the frame of the piece and glued and screwed. If it's a smaller detail, like a bun or spool foot, for example, make sure it is held in with a lag screw of the appropriate size, or several smaller screws and that it is made from hardwood. The ability to remove and reattach the feet may be handy when trying to get through a narrow door someday.

Springs and Support System

Think of these as the "muscles and tendons" of the furniture--just how strong are they? Check that the spring and support system is sufficient by performing these tests. Let yourself drop somewhat heavily into the sofa. Do you hear any excessive noise or a "thunk"? When you stay seated and bounce on the cushion do the springs return you to an elevated position each time or do they bottom out? When you place your hand under the cushion and press down are the springs adequately padded so that you cannot feel the metal?

We recommend eight-way hand-tied coil springs for the main deck as they offer the best weight distribution over the entire frame. Pieces that feature sinuous (also know as zig-zag) coil units for the main deck are more than likely not going to last as long. Sinuous coils are acceptable and common for the backs of most chairs, sofas and loveseats, however. Ask the salesperson about the type of spring system used or ask to read the manufacturer's literature.

Finally, check to make sure that the cushions are of high-density foam and that they are wrapped with a separate fabric layer to avoid direct contact between the foam and the main fabric which will accelerate the deterioration of the foam.

Fabrics and Leathers

And now for the "skin" of the furniture! Many clients ask us about leather vs. fabric and our answer is that leather is wonderful but will be more expensive for full-grain or top grain leathers, which we would recommend.  Less expensive leather furniture features leather that is known as "split," "recast," or "vinyl added" that will break down more quickly.  A quality leather on a loveseat, sofa or chair can possibly provide a lifetime of wear.

If fabric is more to your liking, just make sure that you are choosing a fabric that fits your lifestyle. Most better upholstery fabrics will be wear-rated for durability. Ask the salesperson to show you the wear-rating for the fabric. This is based on the blend of fabrics used, i.e. cotton, rayon, polyester, linen, etc.

Also, pay attention to the cleaning requirements for the fabric - whether a solvent or water should be used. For example, while cotton is great for that favorite worn pair of jeans, it may not be the best choice for a hard-used sofa due to its tendency to wrinkle and hold stains.

A final word about the fit and finish of your upholstery covering: pay special attention to the tailoring that is represented on the pieces you are considering ordering. Is care taken to make sure that pattern matching is done throughout the piece (i.e. arm panels match, the pattern continues over the backside of the piece and vertically spanning cushions, decks, backs, etc.). Is there any excessive puckering at corners, seams and welts that is not otherwise part of the design or fabric? Do the cushions feature zippers that allow you to remove the cores for easier cleaning and fluffing?



If you would like to know more, please feel free to call, email, or visit our store. At our store, we sell Rowe and Robin Bruce upholstery, as well as our Amish-made line of standard upholstery and our line of completely custom upholstered furniture that allows us to custom build frames to your specification. All are proudly made here in the US. We also offer reupholstering on select pieces, and we would be glad to discuss the feasibility and cost of your project with you.

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