Furniture is made from many different types of wood as it is a material that is robust and can endure being out in all kinds of weather; however one of the most popular with manufacturers and consumers alike is oak. Native to the northern hemisphere an oak tree starts off as a very small nut, known as an acorn, which generally only holds one seed and can take between 6 months to 2 years to fully mature. Most seeds are eaten by insects, birds and animals before they have time to grow, which is why oak trees produce so many acorns.
Some oak trees are known to grow up to 100 feet or higher, and can live for over 200 years! Reaching the grand old age of 40 or more before their first production of seeds they produce thousands during their lifetime, and with more than 400 species of oaks worldwide, of which 25 are indigenous to Europe, it's easy to see why it's used so predominantly in construction and manufacturing of buildings and furniture.
Europeans have admired English oak through the ages and it has a long and distinguished history and been seen in some of the most prestigious places you can imagine, including palaces, the House of Commons and other impressive locations. Used for timber-framed buildings and other functions for hundreds of years, it was once commonly used for ship building throughout Britain and Europe, as well as to build houses, and many other types of structures have been fashioned from this beautiful and sturdy wood.
Known for its solid frame it has a reputation for strength and dependability and there aren't many other types of wood that are as popular or as resilient. Oak functions well for making furniture due to its density and hardness, and it's particularly resistant to attacks by insects and fungus. It has a wonderful appearance and is a striking wood as a result of the rich grain markings that run through its trunk.
These days you'll find some of the most beautiful pieces of fine solid oak furniture around in all kinds of styles, from truly modern and up-to-date to traditional shapes and forms.
There are various types of oak wood used in manufacturing; in America the Red Oak and White Oak are mostly used to make furniture, whilst of the European oak trees, the English Oak is the most popular for interior use and furniture because of its durability and highly attractive dark and light brown rings.
When buying wood furniture always ensure you buy solid oak as it's made to long-established high standards using only first-class materials and incorporating techniques that have been around for centuries, which guarantee it's well-built and hard-wearing, as well as having a naturally beautiful finish.
Always check if the piece you're interested in is solid oak and not pine furniture with oak veneers. There are some manufacturers who will offer lower prices to customers because they make savings themselves by attaching veneers to parts of the dresser, chest of drawers or other items.
You'll find a lot of modern furniture manufacturers using a cheaper wood or combined woods for the backs and bases of drawers and dressers, but for a high quality solid oak chest of drawers or dining chairs they should be made from the same solid wood throughout. Also take a close look at the handles and fittings, all materials used in the design should be of the highest quality and harmonize with the rest of the item to create a striking finish as well as demonstrating first-rate craftsmanship.
Learn how to look at where the item is joined and identify if traditional techniques have been used in putting it together as this can help identify its authenticity. Joints on drawers in dining furniture should be locked together using wood with no nails in sight, known as dovetail joints they last for a long, long time.
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