A question that is often asked when talking about oak is what is the best oak to use American or European. And the answer is down to what your needs are. For example in the wine making world there are two camps, the french oak barrels are used for there complex range of flavours, depending on the region and in fact the forest they come from the character they impart into the wine can vary greatly. If the wine from a french oak barrel was someone at a party, they would be someone who was hard to get to know but eventually you grow to like. American oak would be that person who you get on with from the off but would essentially be little shallow.
We have been using both varieties of oak for many years now. American oak is very clean, it comes in longer lengths, this allows for a more efficient cutting process. It has very few knots and is generally straight after machining. And when it comes to a project that may require a great deal of oak it can save you a lot of money. But essentially the problem with American oak is that it is very very boring!!
European oak is a totally different, the machined boards are full of character and the colours vary greatly from tree to tree. Despite having a closer grain than American, European oak is much softer and easier to cut and machine. The real beauty in European oak is in the finishing. We use a high build sanding sealer followed by a 10% gloss top coat, then finally we apply a thin layer of soft wax to highlight the soft part of the grain.
If you were to lay two finished boards next to each other you would be forgiven for thinking that you were looking at two completely different species of timber, and essentially be correct. In my opinion they really should not be mentioned in the same light.
We have made a conscious effort to stay away from American Oak and especially the very cheap laminated boards, we feel the results we get when making our Coat Racks lend themselves to a far more rustic and traditional look.