Purchasing new furniture can represent a significant investment.  So, you want to choose furniture that looks great and will last many years.  The quality and durability of furniture is an important factor in a furniture purchase for 91 percent of consumers, according to a study from “Furniture Today”.  Researching all furniture features and options to find the best furniture requires time and effort to find the best combination of style, durability, longevity, and value.  However, there are several companies that sell college chairs, and nearly all of these companies build their chairs or contract to have their chairs built in mass-production environments and processes.  Also, all or nearly all of those chairs are identical.

Amish furniture easily meets these criteria.  Amish, handcrafted furniture enjoys a reputation for high quality, that many people seek in a furniture purchase, but buyers may still have questions:  Will it fit well with the style of one’s home or office?   Will it last for generations?  Are there different style options, or does it all just look the same?  Is it safe to use in your home or office while being safe for our environment?  Will the new furniture piece retain its value?

Many prospects seeking college chairs pursue college chairs with  the understanding  that all black college chairs are the same.  Many prospects purchase college chairs without comparing chairs – without understanding any details about the woods, finishes, joinery, or the true origins of these factory-made chairs.

Mass-produced factory furniture companies cut corners on their selection of woods, finishes,   One company builds its chairs from rubber wood – not maple.  Factory chair builders apply one stain to their maple chairs in order to resemble cherry, whereas fine furniture builders use real, solid cherry in their furniture.   Mass-produced, collegiate factory chairs are available in a single style.  Simply put, they all look alike.  Fine furniture is most often constructed from northern hardwoods, but factory furniture companies are much less particular.  Mass-produced furniture uses less expensive materials, and its joinery is no match for custom furniture makers and the Amish.  Custom furniture making is more environmentally friendly by virtue of local procurement, less waste in production, and fewer furniture pieces ultimately going to landfill.

The bottom line is that high-volume factory furniture that is mass-produced cannot match custom-built furniture for durability, finish, beauty, perennial and traditional styles, environmental care, and retained value.



The quality and durability of a piece of furniture is an important factor in a furniture purchase for 91 percent of consumers, according to a study from “Furniture Today”. Sorting through all the furniture options to find the best type takes some research to find the perfect blend of style, durability and longevity.  High-volume, factory chair producers typically source woods primarily  according to price and availability.  Factories do not hand select wood as carefully as do American the Amish builders and other custom builders.  They use veneers, laminates, particle board, and other composite wood products in order to produce furniture inexpensively and expeditiously..

Factory chairs for colleges are generally constructed of Maple.  Mass producers are not very particular about which type of maple they use, but, to their credit, most use maple for its hardness, ability to accept stains, and its durability.   Although they could select brown maple for the components that would be stained, most use whatever maple is available at a favorable price.  Solid wood offers a sense of permanence. It stands on its own, creating a presence in the room, and solid wood radiates a warmth and charm you don’t get from cheap veneers or particle board.   However, some college chairs use laminates for their seats rather than solid wood.  Solid hardwood won’t wear, crack or break down in a few years like composite wood products.  Oak, cherry, hickory, and walnut are seldom used in factories that build college chairs, and price is the primary reason.

One college chair company builds chairs from Rubber Wood which is very problematic and has a short life expectancy of as little as 20 years.   Chairs made from Rubber Wood can experience structural problems including warping and twisting.   Rubber is susceptible to moisture insects, and mold.

Some mass-production, factory furniture builders choose softwoods like pine and cedar; these are easy to work, but they are not durable over the years.

White oak, cherry wood, maple, walnut, hickory are common offerings in high-quality furniture shops, but these are much less available among mass-produced factory furniture pieces.



Many of the college chairs for sale in college bookstores where inexpensive college chairs abound, have coarse, rough highly-textured finishes that are far from attractive.  These factory chairs are unfinished under the seats with the butt ends of the vertical posts and spindles extend downward through the seats with the bottom ends crudely ground off.   These companies do not expend a little the minimal energy required to develop an attractive finish on all surfaces.  Most mass-produced college chairs are offered with what that describe as a “cherry” stain.   Typically, this is a  stain of a reddish color to give maple components a look of cherry wood.  Because the stain is applied to any variety of maple which lacks much grain or character, these cherry-like components generally do not replicate cherry wood well.

Whereas custom furniture builders and Amish craftsmen make many more stains and finishes available to each client, all of the factory furniture builders apply a “cherry-like stain to their maple and rubberwood chairs.  Because of their limited stains for their college chairs, the leading factory chair companies are seldom able to match their chairs’ finishes to other fine furniture in the homes of their customers.



Most college chairs are identical in structure; four of the five college chair companies build captain’s chars that are absolutely identical in design.  These chairs appear to been built by the same factory.

It is obvious with factory chairs that the mass-production college chairs do not offer any custom chairs and few if any options.  .

If you visit the websites of the typical, on-line, resellers of college chairs, you will find images of the same style of college chair or captain’s chair.  Their chairs are virtually identical.  If you walk through a typical furniture store, you will likely see hundreds of trendy pieces with a few traditional styles available.  Amish furniture builders and custom shops avoid the many changing trends of furniture that quickly become outdated,  Traditional hand-made shops are committed to traditional, timeless designs that will remain attractive and valuable for generations.  Inexpensive, factory furniture builders chase trends that will not hold their value or last very long.

By choosing factory furniture, one will likely experience the following:

  1. Your décor could look seriously outdated in a few years.
  2. Purchasing trendy furniture pieces may not fit in well with other furniture in your home and office.
  3. Mass-produced furniture is unlikely to assume the status of an heirloom that you would want to pass along to the next generation.
  4. College chairs The heirloom quality paired with the timeless design makes Amish furniture perfect for passing down from one generation to the next.  Timeless Amish furniture is always attractive.

Fine, sophisticated joinery is virtually absent from mass-produced, factory furniture.  In up-scale, custom furniture and Amish furniture, one will find clean lines for a balanced, even look with clean, tight joint.  Expect to see straight angles and lines throughout the design. Parallel slats often build those straight lines while adding strength to the piece. Exposed joinery gives you a glimpse at the high-quality craftsmanship that goes into each piece of Amish furniture. Mortise and tenon joints are common.  None of these characteristics will be found in inexpensive factory furniture.



Many buyers of college chairs consider the ability of a college chair to last for generations within the family.

Since fine furniture is made from solid hardwood that is skillfully fit together, it can last many years if you take care of it properly.   This means it’s not uncommon for well-made, custom furniture items to be handed down for generations.  Durable, solid wood chairs are among the best-sellers in any furniture store. The functionality in one’s daily and the great durability make this furniture ideal for inheritance or reselling on the secondary market.  Cheaper, trendy chairs are not “heirloom” material.

One builder of factory college chairs builds all of its chairs with rubberwood.  It is very likely that their customers are unaware that the rubber wood in their chairs will last only 20-40 years depending on the care that these chairs receive – hardly satisfactory for clients who would wish to leave an heirloom to their family or friends.  Factory chairs, even those made of maple will not last as long as a custom chair made from the best selection of wood and the best joinery.   Mass-produced, factory chairs just do not last as long.

Fine furniture performs well in estate sales or consignment stores  That’s another benefit of buying hand-made furniture and is part of another reason to purchase these pieces.  One can always find a new home for a piece of fine custom furniture that has been well maintained.   We have investigated many chairs on social media and Ebay to learn that well-made, fine furniture holds its value, whereas inexpensive, factory college chairs do not retain value well.   High-volume, mass-produced furniture typically comes in one standard wood species.  Some might offer you an optional wood species to introduce some variety.  However, Amish furniture and other fine furniture come in a variety of real-wood options, giving you more control in the look of the finished furniture.  Essentially, every piece of Amish furniture is a unique piece.

Since Amish furniture is made from solid hardwood that is skillfully fit together, it can last a long time if you take care of it properly. Wooden furniture can last centuries with minimal maintenance, such as regular dusting, light wiping, avoiding direct sunlight, avoiding extreme heat, and ensuring that insects do not infest the furniture.

The most sound, durable furniture consist of northern hardwood construction.  Hardwoods from the colder, northern climates offer greater density which means stronger wood for furniture pieces than wood from warmer regions.  There is no way to know the species or the source of the wood in a factory chair.  Because most mass-produced are finished in black paint, it’s anyone’s guess.   When one buys an Amish chair or a chair from a custom shop, one can have a high degree of confidence in the word of the builder.

Amish builders continue the traditional methods through the generations of makers of fine furniture.  They also have a sense of pride in the work and do not take short-cuts to save time or money. Those traditions, methods, principles,  and commitment to quality yield furniture that lasts for decades.  It is difficult to have such confidence in furniture made on an assembly line.  Fine, sophisticated joinery is virtually absent from mass-produced, factory furniture.  In up-scale, custom furniture and Amish furniture, one will find clean lines for a balanced, even look with clean, tight joint.  Expect to see straight angles and lines throughout the design.  Parallel slats often build those straight lines while adding strength to the piece.  Exposed joinery provides a glimpse into the high-quality craftsmanship that goes into each furniture piece.  Mortise and tenon joints are common.  These characteristics will seldom be found in inexpensive factory furniture.

XXX Unlike high-volume, mass-produced furniture, one need not be concerned about Amish joinery failing or coming apart.  Those traditional practices aren’t going to change either.  Amish furniture enjoys time-proven manufacturing practices.  Whether one buys Amish furniture now or in 10 years, one can be confident in high-quality furniture.



Small production runs of Amish shops mean less wasteful production and less resource-intensive manufacturing, which is less destructive to the environment than mass-produced furniture that includes plastic components.  Custom, low-volume furniture lasts much longer than mass-produced furniture, too; so it won’t end up in a landfill.  As previously mentioned, custom, made-to-order furniture can last many decades, and a robust secondary market helps ensure the pieces can find new owners.  Being made from wood, Amish furniture is biodegradable if  it is destroyed.  Another advantage of wood is that it’s a renewable resource. Small production runs do not threaten forests – especially those forests which are sustainably grown and harvested to ensure that the trees will last for future generations.  Some Amish furniture builders own and maintain their own forests from which they log their own  woods for their own chair production.

Mass-produced furniture runs are detrimental to the environment because they ar destructive to the world’s forests without restoring those forests.   Factory furniture often utilize plastic parts, laminates, veneers, and toxic finish coatings and solvents.

Overseas-based chair companies, therefore, sell low-cost captain’s chairs and captain’s chair parts and compete with our American Alumni Chairs not on the basis of quality but on price alone.  So great is China’s advantage, said Gregory Leick, chief executive officer of Leick Furniture Inc., in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, that his firm can ship Indiana Oak halfway around the world, have it made into furniture and sent back to the Midwest — all for about 40% less than the cost of production here.  This approach to reducing production costs requires extensive shipping to and from vendors in China, increasing the “carbon footprint” of the American mass production chair factory.   These companies claim that their furniture is “Made in America” while not actually manufacturing in the United States.  They only assemble in the U.S.A.   Also those companies engaged in this behavior overseas often provide poor working conditions and pay workers extremely low wages for labor.  Many furniture manufacturers use large factories to mass produce piece after piece of furniture.  Those factories usually have huge carbon footprints, creating harmful pollution.  Amish builders and most custom builders in the U.S. do not ship to and from China.

Many furniture manufacturers use large factories to mass produce piece after piece of furniture.  Those factories usually have huge carbon footprints, creating harmful pollution.  Machinery used to build the furniture also consumes huge amounts of electricity that is produced by fossil fuels,     Mass-produced, factory furniture tends to contain toxic chemicals, like flame retardants, VOC’s (volatile organic compounds), formaldehyde, and other dangerous components.  VOC’s are contained in thousands of daily use products, including paint, varnish, wax, and various cleaning, degreasing, and cosmetic products.  These chemicals diffuse into the air long after you purchase the furniture.  Exposure to VOC vapors can cause a variety of health effects, including eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches and loss of coordination; nausea; and damage to the liver, kidneys, or central nervous system. Some VOCs are suspected or proven carcinogens.

Mass-produced furniture relies on building materials, chemicals, and supplies that are shipped in large quantities and for great distances.  Smaller builders, Amish shops, and customer shops tend to use more local suppliers for less long-distamce shipping and a smaller carbon footprint.



In the world of mass-produced furniture, craftsmanship is not particularly relevant.  It certainly is not a priority.   Most furniture stores carry mass-produced items of trendy styles and inexpensive pieces.

Of the five leading college chair companies, the chair designs are identical with four of them.  One of the four companies uses a different species of wood,   Of those four companies, the priority is sales volume and cost control.  Unlike Amish furniture builders and custom furniture builders, excellence is not a priority.in the high-volume, factory college chair market.  Their chairs are indistinguishable.

Unlike Amish and custom furniture shops, mass-produced chair builders rarely enjoy personal or family traditions or centuries of culture emphasizing traditional building techniques as are evident among Amish communities.  Their hired personnel are much less likely to possess family commitments to building high-quality furniture that will last for generations

As mentioned above, a helpful indicator of craftsmanship is the value that older pieces of furniture retain.  As mentioned above, one can often find custom-built furniture and Amish furniture in estate sales or consignment stores.  One can always find a new home for a piece of Amish or custom furniture that has been well maintained.   Mass-produced furniture pieces are simply less well-constructed, less durable, less valuable, and, therefore, less desirable.



Wikipedia, Crowley, William K. (1978). “Old Order Amish Settlement: Diffusion and Growth”. Annals of the Association of American Geographers68 (2): 250–251

Furniture Today “Consumers Want Quality and Durability”, July 1, 2016

Minnesota Polution Control Agency, Polutant – Volatil Organic Compounds (VOC’s),

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, jsonline.com, U.S. wood goes to China, returns as furniture, August 2, 2017