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Sawtooth Furniture Promotes Amish Craftsmanship
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Wednesday, May 31, 2023
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

The Amish buggies with the blinking lights speak volumes about the surprises hidden inside Sawtooth Furniture.

The Mennonite families that own the new store north of Twin Falls specialize in Amish furniture that boast beautiful wood grains and craftsmanship techniques that have been passed down through generations.

There are solid wood tables handcrafted with old world techniques like dovetail joinery. There are rolltop desks, hall seats, trestle tables, pedestal and pub tables, Adirondack chairs and benches, recliners and love seats. There are even wood-crafted dog houses, cornhole sets and dresser drawers, lamp stands and bedroom mirrors with hidden jewelry drawers.

There are also  wooden chess and parchesi sets, rocking horses, wooden children’s tractors, book cases, China hutches, drying racks, swivel swings, wood chimes and maintenance-free outdoor poly furniture made of milk jugs.

“Buying a piece of this furniture is like buying a piece of art, a showpiece,” said Sawtooth Furniture co-owner Lance Nichols. “It’s the type of thing you can pass on to your kids as a family legacy.”

Nichols is among a large extended family that moved to Jerome from an almond farm in central California. Delmar Nichols worked as a builder, passing his love of wood along to his sons Lance and Farren. Delmar’s wife Harriet handcrafts the quilts the store sells on a quilting loom on the premises.

“My mother made quilts out of scraps. I do the opposite, making them out of new material,” she said. “I love quilting—I like the handmade effect.”

Lance and Farren’s wives Cyndi and Shar and children Terin, Jayce and Kimber work alongside the rest of the family.

“We wanted a little different lifestyle. We wanted to change the pace of life for ourselves,” said Lance. “We had friends and family in Filer so we moved to Jerome and built this barnlike building five miles north of Twin Falls just off Highway 93.”

The Nichols source furniture from 50 Amish craftsmen in northern Indiana. Many are farmers who spend part of the day plowing the fields behind their horses before retreating inside to build furniture to supplement their income.

“The Amish men either work at an RV factory or they make furniture,” said Farren.

There is no middle man, said Farren. But placing orders is not as simple as sending a message by email.

Since many families do not have a phone in their homes, Lance or Farren must call a communal phone placed on the side of the road in Amish farm country. A woman sits in the phone shack for a couple hours each morning taking messages. She then relays the message to the woodworkers who then return the Nichols’ call.

“If we have questions about a piece of furniture, we call the man,” said Farren. “Each of these craftsmen has a real love for wood.”

Customers can customize their furniture by selecting from a wide variety of woods, including hickory, elm, cherry and maple. They can also choose from dozens of stains, including muted white, oat milk, distressed weather, burlap, seashell and golden pecan.

“We are able to offer everything from traditional to very modern,” said Farren.

Need a little gift? You’ll find it in wooden slats featuring quotes from the likes of C.S. Lewis and Laura Ingalls Wilder, who said: “The real things haven’t changed. It is still best to be honest and truthful, to make the most of what we have, to be happy with simple pleasures and have courage when things go wrong.”

The love of wood runs deep in the Nichols’ family.

Delmar Nichols was a custom builder, and his sons inherited his love of fine-looking wood grains and woodworking tools. Farren worked in cabinetry before moving to Idaho.

“I’ve always had a love for wood and wood grain,” he said. “And, when I look at how the Amish craftsmen fit corners, when I look at some of their other techniques, it’s amazing.”

“They’re true craftsmen,” added Lance.

IF YOU GO…

Sawtooth Furniture is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays. They will open at other hours by appointment. The shop is located on US 93 five miles north of the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls and two miles north of the Flying J truck stop. For more information, visit www.sawtoothfurniture.com.

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