What is oak?
An oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus which is Latin for "oak tree". There are around 600 species of oaks and the general name "oak" also appears in the names of many related species. The Quercus genus is native to the Northern Hemisphere of the world. It includes deciduous and evergreen species extending from cool to tropical climates in America, Asia, Europe and North Africa.
Oaks have spirally arranged leaves, with some having serrated leaves or the entire leaf with smooth margins. Also. The acorns and leaves contain tannic acid which helps to guard from fungi and insects. The fruit is a nut called an acorn contained cup-like structure known as a cupule. Each acorn contains one seed and takes 6–18 months to mature depending on their species.
Why is oak wood favourable for furniture making?
Oak timber has a high density of about 0.75 g/cm3 giving it great strength and hardness. The wood is highly resistant to insect and fungal attack due to its high tannin content. Oak has a very appealing grain, particularly when quartersawn. Wide, quarter-sawn boards of oak have been used since the Middle Ages for use in interior panelling of prestigious buildings and in the making of fine furniture. Nowadays oak wood is still routinely used for furniture making, flooring, timber frame buildings and for veneer useage.
Several types of oak timber are regularly used in contemporary and modern furniture. The ever popular natural oak wood has a natural light brown colour throughout the wood. Tiger Oak timber has an appearance similar to natural brown oak, but is much more stripy. Pippy oak has a cat's paw appearance within the grain. Burr oak wood has an appearance similar to pippy oak wood, but it is much denser.
Solid oak furniture should always be built to traditionally high standards. Using centuries old methods, carpenters can make oak furniture that is strong, robust and with a naturally beautiful finish. Drawers should be made using dovetail joints which enhances the appearance and adds strength. The backs and drawer bases should be made from the same solid oak and fixed using traditional methods. To compliment, handles, fittings and wood finishing should be of the same high quality.