How To Identify Oak Wood

Knowing how to identify Oak wood is not as difficult as it may initially seem. Some may say it’s all in the grain!


Basically there are a number of physical and visual signifiers that easily separate Oak from other species. There are two main species of European Oak: Pedunculate Oak (Quercus robur), also known as English Oak, and Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea).


Both being of the Quercus genus, they share many physical characteristics but still have a number of specific differences. Realistically, this makes little difference in their use as timber as English Oak wood and Sessile Oak wood are so similar in strength and durability.


How to Identify Oak Wood

When renovating furniture or the structure of a timber framed building, it is important to be able to identify the wood used.


Existing timbers may need to be replaced and using a softwood to replace load carrying hardwood could be disastrous. It will also be imperative to match Oak with Oak as the timber is known for its characteristic splits and ageing colouration.


For furniture, matching replacement parts to the existing timber will conceal the repairs. While Kiln Dried Oak will never crack or split, the grain is undeniably unique.


1. Weight

As a hardwood, Oak is naturally dense and consequently heavier than many other types of timber.


Each type of wood used in construction or furniture has a particular weight. If a place has been removed for replacement it can be weighed and the weight for its size measured.


If not, check if a small sample can be removed without being visible or weakening the structure and weigh this.


2. History

If you know the history of the furniture or building, there may be clues to the material used in its construction.


Even knowing the general age can be useful as it will be easy to research building techniques and commonly used materials.


Although this may not give a definite answer, in some cases it could. Using reclaimed replacement timber of a similar age guarantees a good match.


3. Colour and Grain

Oak ages in predictable ways and the colour of the timber could be a strong indicator.


As it ages, the timber ‘silvers’ to give a look unlike any other material. Oak ,especially in longer pieces such as beams, has a distinctive regular grain pattern.


It also has very few knots or other imperfections, making it easy to identify In furniture, the use of Pippy or Waney Edge Oak will be obvious just from its appearance.


4. Texture

Old Oak timbers will have obvious splits, or ‘shakes’ running the length of the grain.


Again, these are seen as a desirable side effect of the seasoning process.


While they are not unique to oak, they are unusual in other timber and form in a distinct way.


At Hardwoods Group we specialise only in European Oak to guarantee a perfected quality every time. Ready to start building your dream project? Contact us today.