The Wonders of Oak
Where to start describing the beauty, versatility and timeless wonder of oak.
Often seen as being quintessentially English, this natural material is actually grown in managed forests in many locations around the world today.
For hundreds of years oak has been used in many structural applications for its strength, versatility and durability. From Tudor homes and ships to cartwheels; from church structures & bridges. After cutting, the wood continues to live and adapt to its surroundings; expanding, contracting, cracking and splitting dependant upon the environmental temperature and humidity. This effect, as well as adding to the natural beauty also improves the structural integrity of oak framing. The frame takes on its own life as each beam adapts to another. As oak pegs are used for joints, over time these also strengthen.
That integrity will remain for hundreds of years. Many Tudor – oak framed – building still remain as testament to this.
Grown from managed forests, so each felled tree is replaced. With newer trees absorbing more Co2 than older. The trapped CO2 effectively held for as long as the building lasts – possibly hundreds of years.
Minimal finishing or treatment is needed as oak takes on its own lustre over time. Preferred by many people over manufactured treatments. Often, joints are hand produced, reducing the energy used in manufacturing each component.
Framers prefer to work with oak in a green state as it is softer and easier to work. So there is minimal energy use in processing prior to commencement of framing.
Oak is perhaps the most recycled timber available. Its strength, density and ever changing beauty making it desirable in many forms and applications over many years. While timber framing techniques making it easier to dismantle, recycle and re-use.
Where traditional framing techniques are used, the environmental credentials are further enhanced as process intensive steel component such as cleats, plates & bolts etc are not required. Even the pegs are often hand made.
Whether that’s aesthetically durable, design durable or structural durability.
Oaks aesthetic durability is seen in its ability to be at home in both contemporary and traditional settings. While being able to adapt to different design techniques and processes. Structurally, its density, strength, resistance to mould and water damage ????
No other wood has played such a major part in our heritage. From barrels and ship hulls to Tudor buildings and cartwheels. For hundreds of years oak has been at the heart of our culture and development.
Most of our major milestones in history have oak at their heart: Think of early global trade, where carts, wheels, packing case used it in their construction. Our churches and cathedrals, some of which have timber roof structures dating back hundreds of years. Think of the expansion of the British Empire with the Royal Navy and their oak hulled ships. The list is endless: leathering tanning, building framing, cladding, flooring, furniture, food smoking etc. Perhaps this is why the sight of a pegged oak beam joint evokes deep emotional importance and is symbolic of our historical significance.
Perhaps the most outstanding characteristic of oak is its natural beauty, whether in a green or treated state. No two pieces are the same even if cut from the same tree. Its density and grain structure providing a dazzling array and colours and textures as well as often providing a 3 dimensional appearance.
Over time untreated oak will lighten and take on a silver hue, while knocks and scratches add to its character. Cracking and splits also add to its appeal and give an appearance of ageing while not impacting its structural integrity.