Oak and its uses
The Venerable Oak has a long association with England. Its acorn is the symbol of our National Trails paths, pointing the way across our spectacular countryside. King Charles II hid in an oak at Boscobel House on his escape from the battle of Worcester. It was, and still is, widely used in the construction of timber framed buildings. Oak forests were grown specifically to serve the ship building industry before being replaced with iron for hulls.
Oak has always been prized for its handsome appearance, especially when it is sawn “on the quarter”, so that the radials in the trunk of the tree feature on the face of each “quarter sawn” board. These boards are specially selected for use in panelling and joinery, in flooring and in furniture. Many of Britain’s stately homes feature oak panelling and the Houses of Parliament in London has fine examples.
Oak is still widely used for panelling, flooring, doors, joinery and veneer production, as well as in timber framed buildings, both new and restored. Venables Oak is one of the UK’s largest stockists of green, air dried and kiln dried oak beams.
The History of Oak and its usage
The use of oak in furniture making can be traced back for centuries, to the Middle Ages when it was used in fine furniture and for the interior panelling of prestigious buildings such as the debating chamber of the House of Commons in London. It was possibly used much earlier, as there is evidence that basic pieces were carved in the Neolithic Period.
Oak wood, from Quercus robur and Quercus petraea, was used in Europe for the construction of ships, being the favoured timber for the British Royal Navy fleet until the 19th century, including its legendary men-of-war. Ship builders soon became aware of its qualities, including its sturdiness and durability, which provided defence against cannon balls.
Oak barrels are used in the fermentation process of some wines, such as chardonnay, and sherry, brandy, scotch and bourbon. The oak barrel, which is sometimes charred before use, contributes to the taste, colour and aroma of its contents.
Oak as a symbol
The Oak is a symbol of strength and endurance and has been chosen as the national tree of England, Estonia, France, Germany, Moldova, Latvia, Lithuania Poland, The United States of America, the Basque Country, Wales and Serbia..
The Oak leaf is the symbol of the National Trust in England and Scotland and the acorn symbol is used as a way marker on the National Trails long distance footpaths in England and Wales.