Trade Name: The name Burr Oak or Oak Burl is applied to wood that has grain running in all directions. This gives rise in the cut wood to the appearance of dense whorls, curls, twists and birds eye features. Burr-wood comes from naturally occurring growths and from pollard trees. The name Burry Oak is applied to wood, often from the stump, which displays a modest amount of burr against a swirly background. Terms such as ‘figured’ may be applied to describe unusual appearance characteristics. Flat sawn timber is known as Plain Oak.
Origin: European Oak occurs widely to the West of Russia and Scandinavia and to the East of the Iberian Peninsular.
Appearance: The colour of the heartwood is typically yellowish brown, becoming warmer when exposed to light. Growth rings are very evident which gives rise to prominent figure. Radially sawn wood displays the characteristic silver grain of the broad rays.
Mechanical: The properties of European Oak vary considerably due to the variety of conditions under which it is grown. The wood generally has great bending strength, the more so when it is grown quickly. Density ranges from 670 kg/m³ for Southern grown timber to 720 kg/m³ for Northern growths. English Oak is recognised as hard and dense.
Availability: The solid material is widely available as waney-edged and square-edged boards 16-150mm thick, 125mm and upwards wide and up to 3m or more in length. Veneer is widely available in large width sheets, usually crown or quarter cut.
Timber Cuts: Oak is very durable except for the sapwood, which is usually avoided for good quality joinery. Southern grown European Oak is preferable for large runs of joinery where appearance is to be as consistent as possible. Trees grown in forest conditions produce long straight trunks with fewer knots. Much English Oak is grown in open land, which gives rise to short trunks and large heads. Such timber will be harder to machine and will contain more features and knots, though it could be considered to be characterful. European Oak in the solid produces a good general colour match to the veneer. However, the machined and polished faces of Oak joinery display a variety of features resulting from exposure of the growth rings and silver rays as well as burrs and knots. In practice it is difficult to control the extent to which such features are displayed or hidden. This should be understood when considering the match with veneer, which will usually be made from selected large clear boles to reveal crown cut or quarter cut features.
Veneer Cuts: European Oak veneer is usually produced from selected logs in which unwanted features, such as knots, are minimised or are limited. This gives rise to appearance in the general run of veneer which is more consistent than the solid. The veneer logs are usually big in girth and produce a large quantity of veneer, thus making it easier than with many species to get a uniform appearance in areas within a large job. Small knots and pips are usually present and should be considered as a feature. If this is not an option, the use of American White Oak could be considered as a more predictable alternative. Knotty Oak veneer is an option when a high incidence of tight knots is considered a desirable feature. Burry Oak veneer displays an open burr appearance within a swirly grain. Burr Oak veneer displays tight and usually continuous burrs. Burr veneers are available in small veneer sheets and are most often used quarter matched or mirror matched as feature panels with inlaid surrounds. Each piece of Burr wood will yield only a small amount of usable veneer, so matching on larger schemes should be carefully planned.
Relative Costs: Crown or quarter cut veneer 3. Burry Oak veneer 5. Burr Oak veneer 10
Properties: The denser and tougher the wood, the harder it will be to produce finished joinery which is free from defects. Where this is a prerequisite, timber should be carefully selected. American Oak can be considered when freedom from feature and consistency over a large job is important. The wood will stain when in contact with iron if not completely dry. Both solid wood and veneer take polishes.
Seasoning: These species are very slow to season and great care has to be taken to avoid splitting.