To learn more, please visit the responsible forest management section for this region.

Contents:

  1. History of Cultivation
  2. Physico-Mechanical Properties
  3. Key Qualities
  4. Physical Properties
  5. Oak Products
  6. Effects of Climate
  7. Growing Conditions Variability: European Oak
  8. Soil Composition

History of Cultivation

Common oak (Quercus Robur) is the main forest-forming species in forests and forest-steppe zones of Europe. The forest-forming breed is a tree species making up the main, upper, the 3rd, tier (canopy) of the forest. In the northern part of its habitat, the forest part of the range grows along river valleys; to the south - in the forest steppe – it goes to the watersheds and forms mixed forests, and in the south of the range of its habitation - clean oak forests; in the steppe zone it settles along ravines and beams.European oak 1

Pure oak forests are rare, usually only in river floodplains. Being a forest-forming breed entails growing with many other breeds, to mention a few: ash, maple, elm, birch and many other commonly met European tree species. Its habitat does not rise above 500m above the sea level, and its Eastern Border is at Ural Mountains - there is no Oak growing in Siberia at all.

No tree has been treated by the peoples of Europe with such love and respect as the oak tree. The Slavs, the Romans, the ancient Greeks, all considered it sacred, worshiped it and attributed it miraculous and magical properties. It was believed that the oak was given by the gods as a great gift. Without the permission of the priests, it was impossible to cut down the oak, even to break off the branch.

In Greece, the oak branch was a symbol of strength, power, and nobility. Oak branches were awarded to warriors who performed great feats. The Greeks believed that the oak appeared on the ground before other trees, and dedicated it to the god of light, sciences and art and Apollo. In many respects such connotations of strength and nobility with oak stem from the natural remarkable qualities of its timber.

Physico-Mechanical Properties

European oak 3

Average Dried Weight:  675 kg/m3
Specific Gravity (12% MC):  0.53, 0.67
Janka Hardness*:  1120 bf (3,290 N)
Modulus of Rupture:  97.1 Mpa
Elastic Modulus:  10.6 Gpa
Crushing Strength:  46.3 Mpa

 * = the Janka test is used to measure hardness.

European Oak - shrinkage variations:

European oak 2

Key Qualities

  • Resistance to Decay: Oak is rated very good in rot resistance, hence it is used in boatbuilding.
  • Longetivity: A fence made out of Oak poles does not need extra chemical processing to increase its longevity of service.
  • High Strength & Density: a high density (up to 700 kg / m³) = high strength
  • Ethical Appeal: What is made out of oak – will remain a classic forever.

Physical Properties

Oak wood has a beautiful colour and texture. The colour of its heartwood tends to variate between light and medium brown, with quite a lot of variation in natural colouring. The white or grey sapwood is often not demarcated evenly well from heartwood. However mostly it is greyish-white, this is because Quercus Robur belongs to the white oak group and shares many of the same qualities of its timber with white oak, Quercus Alba, - such as pleasing to the eye natural colour.

The timber of oak is dense, strong, elastic, well preserved in air, in the ground and under water, moderately cracked and warped, easily pricked, and it is graded as very decay & fungus resistant.

Although oak wood has no special smell, it is used to make barrels for brandy, wine, beer, alcohol, vinegar, oil. However, others claim it has a tell-tale smell only oak trees have.

Uses: The workability of oak is good even with hand tools, it glues, stains and oils well. As a result the products made from oak have a truly remarkable ration of longevity of service and an ethical appeal of its grand texture and colouring.

Perhaps this is why oak wood is used in house building, shipbuilding, car building, for the construction of bridges, mines and underwater structures. Oak wood is used in the furniture industry, for the production of rivets, parquet, doors, frames, rims, slides, plywood and planed veneer, lathes and carvings, details of horse carts: drawbar, wheels.

Sapwood colour: Light (olive) brown
Heartwood colour:     
Light to medium brown
Grain: Straight
Texture: Coarse, uneven
Knottiness Large, but little
Odour: Minor

 

European oak 5European oak 4

 

Oak Products

There are two main types of products made from oak we supply:

Oak beams and planks (fresh cut) - Oak panels (dried to specification)

European oak beams planksEuropean oak panels

 

Effects of Climate

Climate has a direct and significant effect on the quality of timber. There are many factors that impact the resulting quality of timber, these include: geography – flatlands vs. mountainous regions, temperature, height above the sea level, amount of precipitation, type of soil, amount of sunlight and whether the forest is mixed or uniform to one species.

However, European Oak grows on a range of soils, with rather different chemical compositions. Different soil compositions coupled with different climates yield trees that have different physical and physico-mechanical properties of timber. French oak is known to become of fame. But it is exactly the same tree that grows everywhere else in Europe. However, it does grow on different soil, in different climate.

The best way to illustrate this is with an example below, explained at growing conditions variability and soil composition.

European oak 6

 

Growing Conditions Variability: European Oak

Variability in growing conditions is a set of the following factors: geographical area, height above sea level, predominance of temperature and its variability, amount of rainfall, type of forest, tree position in the stand, etc. It is not always possible to distinguish between the influence of one or the other selected factors. When spoken if they still say separately about the effect of climate or soil, they mean the predominant influence of one or other of these factors. The available data on the physico-mechanical properties of our forest wood from different growth areas show that for the wood of the main calcareous hardwood (oak, ash), there is no clearly defined dependence. For the wood of the most widespread scattered-hardy deciduous species (birch, aspen), there is a tendency (more clearly expressed for aspen) to increase physical and mechanical properties as one moves from north to south through the territory of the Europe.

The noted difference in the nature of the influence of climatic factors on the physical and mechanical properties of wood of different breeds suggests that as growing conditions improve so do the properties. However, this relation varies between the breeds.

This influence is expressed more clearly for the breeds with a wide range (larch, pine, birch, aspen); for other tree breeds, with a smaller range and more demanding conditions for growth (oak, ash), the influence of climatic factors is much less.

Soil Composition

The question of what and how big the effect the soil conditions have on physico-mechanical and physical properties has not been studied enough, despite the considerable amount of work done. The discrepancy between the conclusions of different authors is explained both by the difficulties noted above, and by the imperfection of the works themselves. Nevertheless, most studies of wood as coniferous (mainly pine) and deciduous (oak, beech & aspen) breeds led to the conclusion that, richer in minerals soils form the best trees.

Being in the business long enough however, we would like to mention that, it is only from French Oak that barrels for wine and brandy are made, this is because French Oak grows on the soil that contains tannins. Crucial chemical in adding wines their flavours. In the East of Europe soil composition is different, at our source the soil is different. There is no need to mention the exact composition. It suffices to say, that there is no tannin in our oak. As a result we do not procure barrels. Instead our soil provided for higher density, with resulting from it higher physico-mechanical properties of our oak. The difference at times amounts to 50 kg/m3, which is a lot across the same species.