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Amish Lockers


Andy Byler assembling a dado locker face frame

Amish Woodworking Techniques

The Amish of New Wilmington use a combination of old-world techniques and modern equipment for their woodworking. Their tools are not powered by electricity—the Amish remove the motors from the equipment and replace it with either a belt drive system or a hydraulic pump powered by a diesel engine. Some Amish craftsmen also fabricate their own unique tools and jigs to construct their furnishings.

Mortise & Tenon

Mortise and tenon jointsA joint is strongest when the two pieces of stock are at right angles to one another. Woodworkers have been utilizing mortise & tenon joints for centuries because of their combination of superior strength and simplicity. They are typically used when one piece of stock is joining to the other at a 90-degree angle.

With a mortise and tenon joint, one piece of stock is inserted into the other and held in place with a fastener, typically glue. This joint has tremendous strength by allowing more surface area for glue to hold, securing the tenon (male) inside the mortise (female) and providing optimum strength and durability. The mortise and tenons are precisely made utilizing router bits.

Dado & Groove

Dado and Groove jointA dado and groove joint (also called tongue & groove) is formed by milling a slot (or dado) in one board, and inserting another board into that slot. The dado’s width is equivalent to the width of the board inserted into it. The dado joint is excellent for joining shelves in the upper or lower sides of a storage or wine locker. The dado is cut into the side and the shelf inserted into the dado. Such a shelf supports a lot of weight while providing vertical stability and overall cabinet strength.

Dado and groove joints can also be held together with nails or screws, though Amish Locker’s woodworkers precisely cut the dado and grooves and do not require additional fasteners.


The frame for an Amish raised panel is made by cutting wood at a 45 degree angle with a miter saw that allows for perfect cuts, then milling the insides of the wood with tongue and groove. Small rubber pellets are inserted into the groove to allow for expansion and contraction of the panels caused by temperature or humidity changes.

Rabbet Joints

A rabbet joint is very similar to a dado joint, except that the groove is cut at the edge of the board. The Amish use rabbet joints for joining the backs of a cabinet, bookcase or locker. The backs are then either glued, held on with mechanical fasteners, or both. A rabbet joint is made with a table saw or a router.


Quartersawn Oak used in the creation of Amish lockersA fine piece of Amish furniture involves not only the superior craftsmanship of the Amish but also properly selecting the wood that ends up in the Amish craftsmen’s shops.

A properly selected piece of wood will provide natural beauty that will hold your attention. If you’re looking for a furnishing with old-world charm, you’re not going to find it in today’s paper thin, mass produced particleboard furniture.

Quartered lumber vs. plain-sawn lumber

Quarter sawing is a specialized technique requiring more time and greater skill to produce. Quarter sawn lumber prices are slightly higher than plain sawn. It is, however, superior wood.

The art of quarter sawing has been lost over the years--except for Amish craftsmen. As it is with many superior practices of the past, quarter sawing been replaced by plain sawing techniques-- easier, quicker and cheaper. However, plain sawing results in additional waste, less grain characteristic and lumber that is less stable. The Amish utilize quarter sawed lumber for their fine woodwork. This process provides Amish furniture craftsmen the highest quality lumber for their Amish furniture.

After the lumber has been seasoned and allowed to naturally dry, it’s carefully stacked inside a wood kiln that heats the air and the lumber. A skilled kiln manager utilizes a schedule for specific wood types--allowing for thickness as well--which allows the wood to dry correctly without damage.

This air drying process is vital to the success of each load of wood exiting the kiln. Amish furniture craftsmen traditionally have close relationships with the lumberyard to insure the proper drying process for their lumber.

Amish Lockers are constructed of high grade hardwoods. There are standards used in the logging industry to grade wood, determined by the percentage of clear face cuttings. Amish furniture is built from the finest quality hardwood lumber. Your Amish Locker quotation will clearly identify what grade woods comprise specific components of your lockers.

Amish Lockers • 205 Locust Street • Scott Township, Pennsylvania 15106
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