What Really Goes into Countryside’s Furniture Construction?

By Rosie Ebel · July 9, 2015

What Really Goes into Countryside’s Furniture Construction?

Common "Wood" Terms Defined

When purchasing solid wood furniture, it is important to understand the definition of terms that are often mistakenly used interchangeably. A buyer's guide to wood terminology is provided here based on industry standard definitions.


At Countryside, we do not use veneers in our Amish handcrafted furniture. A veneer is a very thin, almost pencil shaving thin, layer of real wood that has been applied to another material. In furniture, this is often a less expensive wood product like plywood, press board or particle board.


This material consists of stacks of veneers or thin layers of wood that are rotated and pressed together with glue to create a semi-strong, lightweight material. Though the components of plywood came from trees, we do not recommend purchasing furniture made entirely of plywood. If significant moisture seeps into the layers of this material, it can cause dramatic expansion and often the complete dissolution of the item in question. On occasion, here at countryside, hutch backs and drawer bottoms are made from a sealed, formaldehyde-free plywood for the purposes of reducing the weight of a very heavy piece of furniture and also where the use of solid wood can create functional problems due to the normal expansion and contraction of solid wood, from climate fluctuations, such as temperature and humidity.  When this is the case, the product is still finished with the rest of the piece to match. 


Pressboard is "engineered" from sawdust, wood chips, and shavings using a resin material. Pre-fabricated, do-it-yourself furniture is frequently made of this inferior wood product. None of our fine furniture includes pressboard. It disintegrates if wet and does not respond well to being moved or used for long periods of time.

Particle Board

Think of particle board as the intermediate material between plywood and pressboard. It is often used in sub-flooring and other building projects where a lightweight, semi-sturdy material is necessary. Again, Countryside wants no part of this building material. It is inferior for furniture making and does not meet our standards for quality and durability.


We use this term at Countryside, but it is quite broad. By definition, to be "wooden" is merely to be made of wood or timber. All the aforementioned materials technically fit this definition. Our furniture is wooden, but it is much, much more.

All Wood

Interpreted loosely, this term may lead a buyer to believe that the furniture they are investigating is made entirely of wood. Although it may be true that all surfaces are wood, sides, backs and bottoms may not be. Technically, by this definition, calling a pre-fabricated item that is plywood everywhere except the top surface "all wood" is not false advertising. This definition is far too easy to bend to the whim of the furniture sales person in question, so be wary of this terminology. All of Countryside's furniture is all wood, but we prefer a different, more specific, term to indicate the absolute quality of our furnishings.

Real Wood

Buyer beware! When you hear "real wood" thrown around a lot, you may not be in the presence of fine furniture. Real wood simply means that the furniture in front of you was once part of a tree. A lot of building materials fit this definition, but again, this is not the premium hardwood you will find at Countryside. You will, accurately, note this term on our website, but it is not technically the best description of our predominate building material.

Solid Wood

Now we are getting closer to Countryside's preferred term. Solid wood implies that the furniture you are seeing is actually made from boards cut directly from a tree without any further processing required. All of our fine furniture is solid wood. This does not mean, however, that the occasional table pedestal will not be hollow. This allows the table, in total, to weigh less and is often more practical and preferrable. The wood to make the pedestal, however, will be solid wood and not a plywood, press board, or veneer.


Solid hardwood, to be precise, is the most specific and correct term for the building material used in our fine, handmade Amish furniture at Countryside. We use only solid wood from trees with a Janka designation of 1290 or harder. For more information on the Janka Rating system, click here.

Our shop uses only Red Oak, White Oak, Brown Maple, Maple, Cherry, Elm, Walnut, or Hickory. In many cases, both the pristine and rustic varieties of these woods are available. In rustic selections, knots and scars will not be cut from the timber leaving the raw, natural character of the wood intact. Live edge options also incorporate the natural bark-off edge of the tree for an even more rustic presentation.

Finally, all of our raw lumber is harvested in the USA responsibly to ensure our forests are properly renewed. For more information, click here.

Now that you understand building materials, shop carefully. A guide to shopping online is available here. We also have a number of tips for wood selection and a blog to answer all you questions.

We look forward to working with you to create heirloom worthy fine furniture for your home or place of business.

Contact us by chat, e-mail, or phone to begin your journey with Countryside Amish Furniture.