A huge tree in the Quercus genus. The European oak grows tall and strong, harsh winters and hot summers keep its growth rate down and slow, leading to tight ring formation, which create a stable material. English oak and oaks from central Europe and France in particular are the best: tall, straight trees felled from forests that have been extremely well managed with long term vision.
* Oak accepts finishes well: can be, limed, stained, bleached or fumed, or painted. As oak ages it goes through a yellowing period that is not particularly attractive to the current eye, so whitening or greying finishes are often employed to re-dress this perceived problem.
* Lye dipped oak takes on a lovely soft greyish colouring that works especially well for contemporary floors.
* Oak ages particularly well, the wood hardens as it ages: so long as they are kept free of bug damage, old beams last for centuries and can successfully be re-claimed and re-used as beams in a new dwelling, or sliced into furniture and floor boards; old oak tables and chairs darken with age to become a rich honey brown that fits as well into any environment, be it traditional or contemporary; oak doors just get stronger and many ancient houses and castles have oak doors that are equally ancient.
* Old oak boards that have never been treated, or polished have a wonderful grey-dark colouring and need to be fitted in the traditional way.
* Oak leaves and acorns are inspirational shapes for decoration and appliqué work.
* Oak forests provide us with truffles.