Is there is a difference between 'furniture made in America', 'American furniture 'and 'American made furniture'?' First, the term 'America' has to be defined, since strictly the USA, the South American continent and Canada are all 'America!'
While this might seem pedantic, the term 'Made in America' shall henceforth refer to products made in the USA. If you look at the qualification to use this label on furniture or any other manufactured product, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) does not require any prequalification to use the label or the term: any firm can do so for any product, made in the USA or not, and would only be discovered should a challenge be made.
What Does Made in America Mean?
Also, what does the term mean? If an American company imports wood, glass, brackets, hinges and door knobs and then assembles them in the USA, is the piece 'Made in America?' There is no specific definition although the claim generally means that the majority of the raw materials or parts needed to manufacture the product originate in the USA.
An alternative qualification is permitted, namely that that a piece can be "made in the USA of U.S. and imported parts." According to the FTC, the input of foreign material should be negligible at most. Great - now define 'negligible!' Believe it or not, this is a matter of great debate, and with respect to American furniture, a large proportion of furniture labeled as such contains wood and other parts that do not originate from this country.
Many American furniture manufacturers, however, can genuinely use the 'Made in America' label, because it is 100% American - American employees, wood from local forests and American accessories. In these cases, the term really does refer to the USA, and not Canada, Mexico or South or Central America. There is nothing against these other countries, because they can manufacture high quality products, but to use the label it should refer to the USA.
Typical American Furniture Manufacturers
Take Simple Amish. This is not only a specific design of furniture offering an almost unlimited combination of customizations, but is made in America by a network of Amish craftsmen and craftswomen. Simply Amish furniture is traditionally constructed using furniture from sustainable forests no farther than 500 miles from the place of manufacture. Even the offcuts are used for children's toys.
The Custom Shoppe is another American furniture manufacturer that uses American grown wood, such as American cherry, walnut and maple. Not many know that American walnut is genuine walnut, while African walnut is more akin to the mahogany or sapele species of tree and not walnut at all.
L. & J.G. Stickley is another American furniture manufacturer with a long pedigree. This firm is known for its unique use of American oak, particularly the quarter sawn oak utilized by Joseph Stickley. All Stickley furniture is made in America using American materials, craftsmanship and employees.
American furniture can be made in America, but much of it uses imported wood and fittings from Asia or Europe. Some buy in the prefabricated units and simply put them together, like you would construct flat-pack furniture. If you buy furniture from supermarkets or multinationals, then it is unlikely it has been hand made in the USA.
What to Look For in American Furniture
What should you look for if you want to be patriotic and buy American furniture? First check the label: the 'Made in America' label is conspicuous, but even if you don't see it on a beautiful secretaire that you love, you still should ask the question. Ask where it has been made, where the wood comes from and how much might be imported. If it is English or French, and looks good, maybe you should make an exception, but that's your choice!