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Oak – the multi-purpose wood

Posted: 13 Aug, 2014.

Much more than a symbol of strength

oak tree

It is hard to find a symbol of strength and endurance more universally recognised than an oak tree. For example in Greek mythology the oak tree was sacred to Zeus, the god of thunder and lightning. The sheer size and longevity of an oak tree lends itself to be associated with the qualities we most admire, strength, resilience and beauty. These qualities have meant that the oak is used as the national tree for so many countries, and as a symbol for many organisations. There is more to an oak tree than being merely a symbol, as its wood is remarkably useful too.

The many uses of oak

Oak wood has been used for a variety of purposes through the ages, from ship building, to architecture, to furniture and the production of wine. The versatility of use is virtually endless and you will still find this valuable resource throughout our lives today.

Ship building – The strength and hardness of oak lends itself to structures needing toughness and resilience and this was realised by the Vikings when they constructed their longboats in the 9th Century. This tradition continued across all of Europe, for as long as ships where made out of wood until the 19th Century.

Building material – Oak has been used for centuries as a building material, both structurally and decoratively. Oak frames and beams have been used to support buildings and oak panelling used for decoration, one example being the House of Commons. Timber frame houses are still in great demand today and the preferred choice for many self-builders and house developers.

Wine & spirit production– Even with all of the modern technical advancements in wine and spirit production, oak still plays an integral part. Aging wine, whisky, sherry – plus many more delicious beverages – in oak barrels is integral to the overall taste, colour, aroma and quality of the finished product.

Furniture and flooring – When we shop for our homes today, we are spoilt for choice with a vast selection of solid oak, oak veneered and even oak effect furniture and flooring. Oak has been used in furnishings and flooring since medieval times and due to its’ popularity and versatility, is likely to continue for a long time to come.

Oak doors – The reason why we at JB Kind have an interest in oak is because it is the most popular timber finish used in our doors. The graining of oak when it is cut and planed makes it an attractive wood for use in door construction. Oak is not used for these purposes as a solid piece of wood, but as a veneer on top of a substrate of another material. This is not just because of cost but, like all natural timber, oak can warp in the warmer interiors of the buildings we live in today. Some examples of oak doors can be seen here

Sustainability for the future

Although the oak is the most common tree in the UK and Europe, its protection to maintain sustainability is obviously important. The Woodland Trust  for example is dedicated to protecting old forests and creating new ones and the Forestry Stewardship Council® ensures that timber used by producers is sourced responsibly (many of JB Kind’s doors have FSC chain of custody certification).

Preserving the oak forests for future generations is important and, apart from anything else, we want to continue to supply our beautiful oak doors for many years to come.

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