History of Oak – Suffolk Latch Company

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History of Oak

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As everyone loves our coat racks and they are made out of oak, we thought we'd give you an insight into the history of oak wood. Oak wood is one the most valued and desired types of wood for flooring and furniture, but there are many forms of oak wood out there on the market. It is of the upmost importance to be well informed about the different types, uses and properties on offer. A carefully chosen piece of oak furniture can last for several generations.

All oak species are native to the northern hemisphere, spanning cold latitudes to tropical areas of Asia and America, with not all of them used for wood. Oak trees are hardwoods, which means that they are big and strong in build yet easy to work with, making the material gathered perfect for furniture making. Not only this, oak is also one of the densest materials nature has to offer. It has a density of around 0.75 grams per cubic centimetre in comparison to pinewood which has a density of 0.43 grams per cubic centimetre.

Oak has been valued very highly since the middle ages for both its power and durability, as well as its highly attractive natural marking. For years, it has been used in the construction of both garden and house furniture. The pieces it produces last virtually forever and it can still be admired in museums and palaces to this day, even if it was made many centuries ago. This is helped massively by its water resistant quality. 

All this aside, the exceptional beauty of the product is without dispute the main appeal of oak furniture. It reflects charm, class and style, which cannot be compared to any other type of wood. It creates a unique feel in any room, whether bedroom, kitchen or otherwise. It is available in light and dark tones as well as different patterns that mean that you can combine it with your existing decor, making it extremely functional in any setting. 

Just because your piece of oak furniture has an extreme level of durability doesn't mean you can be lazy. You need to care for your product to keep it looking its utmost, majestic best. Interior oak should be conditioned either with oil or wax in order to protect it from infestations, stains and from cracking. Initially, you should be conditioning your product every couple of months at the start then after a few years, less frequently, maybe twice a year. Apply the wax, I would recommend beeswax, in the direction of the grains and remove it once its dried. Also, ensure that you keep your furniture clean but avoid using harsh chemical cleansers at all costs. Oak is a natural material and should be treated as such, so use all natural, oil based cleaners only. Another tip is to keep your oak furniture out of direct sunlight because the sun can dry it out excessively, causing it to crack and lose its colour. Its just as important to keep it away from radiators and other heating devices.

Outdoor furniture requires different care than that based indoors- untreated furniture doesn't require anything but regular conditioning. I personally wouldn't recommend using linseed oil for outdoor furniture, as it can lead to mildew if not dried completely, so try to use lemon oil instead. As your furniture will be exposed to all sorts of weather conditions, you may want to protect it and extend its lifespan. In this case, you should stain it with an oil based product. Also check it regularly to make sure it hasn't become a home to insects. 

Stains and scratches every oak furniture owners worst nightmare, but both can be repaired on your own in most cases. To remove marks, apply some butter to the stain, leave it overnight and remove with a clean cloth in the morning. This method is very effective for a varied range of stains, including those caused by spillages and heat damage. If you have scratched your oak furniture, it is possible to sand it down. However, if the damage is severe or if the product is of high value, I would recommend getting an expert to repair it. A weird but wonderful way of removing a scratch is to soak the area with a few drops of water, allowing it to get moist, then covering it with a cloth and ironing over it with a warm iron.

Oak wood has one disadvantage and that is the price. Due to oak trees maturing very slowly, they tend to be relatively expensive.


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The Suffolk Latch Company is based in the picturesque town of Clare on the Suffolk/Essex Border. We specialise in the supply of traditional hand forged black ironmongery.

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