American Countrycolonial

Using local wood species and unsophisticated construction methods, colonial America's pioneers adapted traditional country designs from England to produce simple, practical furniture known as American Country.

Although more sophisticated styles supplanted these designs in prosperous colonial towns, rustic furniture prevailed on the ever-advancing frontier. With its simplicity, durability, and economy, traditional American Country furniture continues to appeal to 20th-century furniture makers, particularly those living in rural America.

An ingenious response to cramped conditions, the chair table shown above serves double duty. With the tilted-up top against a wall, the piece can be used as a chair. Lowering the top transforms it into a table.

Ladder-back chair

The seat in the example shown is made of rush, but cane, splint, and canvas tape seats were also commonly produced

Keyed-tenon stool

Rush seat

Wood Table Wrought Iron Strap

Trestle table

A large tabletop supported by legs and a trestle; tusk or pinned tenons join legs to the trestle, allowing easy disassembly


Wrought-iron strap hinge

Tressle Hinges

Wood turnbuckle

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Variations on this design were commonly made in America between 1730 and 1340


Wood turnbuckle

Wrought-iron strap hinge

Trestle table

A large tabletop supported by legs and a trestle; tusk or pinned tenons join legs to the trestle, allowing easy disassembly

Spindle Windsor Chairs


The Windsor chair (page 70) is often classified with American Country furniture because its simple and precise joinery and functional elegance harken back to the craftsmanship of a bygone era. But the Windsor is neither American nor rural. First made in late 17th-Century England, it is one of the most enduring and popular of all chair designs. The Windsor family also includes stools, cradles, stands, and tables.

Although the Windsor chair has spawned countless variations, virtually all versions feature a solid seat, which anchors separate assemblies of turned legs and a spindle back.

Colonial Settlees And Wing Back Chairs
Many of the elements of the comb-back Windsor chair shown above were riven and shaped from green wood. The chair was made by North Carolina woodworker Drew Langsner.
Free Windsor Chair PlansZoarite PicturesColonial Settlees And Wing Back Chairs


Like the early settlers from England, newcomers to America from other parts of the world brought their unique cabinetmaking traditions with them. From the Dutch who founded New Amsterdam to the Zoarite Germans who settled in Ohio, the new arrivals added their own influence to the catalog of early American styles. Mixed into the blend were North American versions of national styles built in the former French and Spanish colonies. The pieces shown here are a brief sampling of regional styles.


Made by Spanish "Carpinteros," this chair reflects both Spanish and native-American influences; extensive chip carving served to lighten the look of the heavy timber used in the assembly.


A typical German design found in many regions of Pennsylvania; such a sturdy design that many 200-year-old examples remain in usable condition


A popular continental design found throughout the former French colonies in America, particularly Louisiana


A simple country chair, based on models originally made in Germany, Austria and Switzerland; often called a "two-board chair"

Frame-and-paneI construction

Secret Compartments Furniture Plans

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