Why American Oak Is Better Than European Oak
‘Oak’ is a general term in which over 400 species of oak trees and shrubs in the genus Quercus (Latin for ‘oak tree’) exist. Quercus is native to the northern hemisphere, and includes deciduous and evergreen species ranging from cold latitudes to tropical Asia as well as the Americas. It is this American style of oak that produces multiple pieces of beautifully crafted furniture.
The middle ages were the starting point at which oak furniture begun to revolutionise buildings. During this time oak was renowned for the strength it could offer as building material as well as the ability for this plain natural resource to be transformed into beautiful carvings often relevant to the church, royalty and nobles. America Oak soon became a main competitor in the market, offering quality from a range of areas and climates. There are currently over 60 species of tree in America which indicates the range of oaks and textures that can be offered by this vast country. The largest North American tree comes in the form of the red oak (Quercusrubro) which can amount to over 133 feet.
Europen stocks were severely depleted through centuries of conflict across Europe. Starting with construction of mighty catapults & battering rams to batter down castle walls, & construction of bridges etc, this list goes on and on of military uses for the timber in Europe. Whilst not as strong as stone, Oak was seen as the strongest light weight alternative that could be fashioned into many things by skilled carpenters. We also saw across Europe a swelling of naval activity also putting further strain on European supplies. Ship design was advancing and ships were becoming bigger and bigger, requiring large trees to be felled, larger trees being obviously older. It was not just military use of oak that depleted European stocks, Civilians also used the tree to fashion everyday household furniture.
This dependency on oak over the centuries left Europe badly in need of the wood at the onset of the First World War and ironically boosted growing oak economy in America. America is one of the largest exporters of Oak which is a reflection on not only the quality and variety that can be offered in comparison to the European Oak but also the abundance the relative abundance of American Oak. Where European Oak fails to deliver, the American Oak can.
A popular oak variety from America comes in the form of the White oak which trumps many European oaks still found today. This oak itself varies within regions of America, those trees grown in the northern Appalachian area produces a slower grown tree creating a mild wood type where as those grown in the southern states produce a harder, tougher timber American White Oak. This oak is milder to work than European Oaks and suitable for high class furniture and decorative work, it is also a good timber for constructional work due to its strength and durability.
Oaks from these two competing continents are indeed both highly sought after, but there is just no competition when it comes to the variety, quality and profusion that the American Oak can offer in comparison to European species. Our lives would be at a loss if it wasn’t for the unfailing contribution made by the American oak species to produce modern day essentials such as beds, wardrobes, tables and chairs.