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English oak sawn timber

Prime English oak furnitureSawn timber English oak Prime English oak furniture
Prime English oak furnitureWaney edge English oak drying

There is no doubting the stature of English oak in our national heritage. This fine material has been utilised for many hundreds of years to construct everything from sea-going vessels to fine furniture. Although oak grows widely across Europe and North America, craftsmen continue to cherish English oak for its beautiful grain and figure which tend to be more decorative and unique than in oak from elsewhere.

Although England does not contain large areas of oak forest in comparison to countries such as France and Germany, there continues to be a healthy supply of oak logs from well managed private estates and, to a lesser extent, from land owned by the Forestry Commission. Vastern Timber is dedicated to supporting these forest owners by processing and marketing English grown oak rather than importing oak from elsewhere. We firmly believe that the only way to protect our remaining forests is to ensure they have a value.

Waney edge boards will be supplied with wane (bark) on one or two edges. The centre (quarter sawn) boards include the heart which often looks like a crack running down the centre.

The heart wood of English oak ranges in colour from pale straw to dark honey brown. The Prime Grade boards tend to be paler and more even in colour while the Character grades tend to exhibit a wider palette. Similarly the Prime and First grades tend to be reasonably straight grained whereas the Character grades can include uneven and sometimes ‘wild’ grain.

The flat cut boards will show the swirling patterns that result from cutting through the growth rings near their crest. On close inspection, these boards will also include small black flecks (medullary rays) which travel from the heart to the outside of the tree.

Quarter sawn boards with medullary rays running parallel to the direction of the cut exhibit beautiful sliver figuring – the result of the rays being sliced longitudinally. Quarter sawn boards are renowned for their stability although they can suffer from greater shrinkage during drying.

To avoid disappointment please make an appointment before arriving at either yard to select sawn timber.

Technical Specification

Common name English oak
Family Fagaceae
Genus Quercus
Unit of sale M3 (Cubic meters) (1M3 = 35.315 Ft3)
Kiln dried weight Approx 720 KG / M3
Specification Supplied in waney edge sawn boards
Width range: 200mm – 350mm +
Description Board
thickness (mm)
thickness ()
Kiln dried and air dried boards 27 / 34 / 41 / 54 1 / 1¼ / 1½ / 2
Kiln dried and air dried quarter sawn boards 65 / 80 / 100 2½ / 3 / 4
Air dried quarter sawn boards 125 / 150 5 / 6
Moisture content
Description Board
thickness (mm)
Air dried Boards 27 – 150 20 – 35%
Kiln dried Boards 27 – 54 10 – 14%
Kiln dried Boards 65 – 100 12 – 18%
Durability BS EN350-2. English oak is classed as durable and does not require treatment for external use as long as the sap is excluded.
Workability + Generally works well. Liming & fuming possible
   Contains tannin. Can be brittle
Grades available English oak is available in the following grades but please note that not all thicknesses are available in all the grades:
Prime Joinery
Equivalent European grade: Q-BA
The majority of the boards will be free of any knots except occasional pin knots. Any isolated defects will be measured out. The grain and the colour will be reasonably even and consistent.Accepted: Heart shakes with a reduction in volume, sap, isolated larger defects with a reduction in volume.Not accepted: Curly grain, rot, black stain, ring shake, bark pockets, worm holes.
First Joinery
Equivalent European grade: Q-B1
This is our standard joinery grade where only occasional knots up to 40mm diameter are accepted. The grain may be slightly angled and some colour variation is likely. Larger knots and defects will be measured out.Accepted: As for Prime with occasional knots up to 40mm.Not accepted: Curly grain, rot, black stain, ring shake, bark pockets, worm holes.
Light Character
Equivalent European grade: Q-B1 / Q-B2
Sound knots up to 50mm are accepted. Angled and curly grain is permitted providing the board has not distorted. Light surface checking and colour variation are accepted. Larger knots and defects will be measured out.Accepted: An average of one sound knot up to 50mm per metre, isolated worm holes.Not accepted: Rot, black stain, ring shake, bark pockets, excessive worm attack.
Equivalent European grade: Q-B3
Unlimited sound knots including split knots and defects are accepted. Curly grain, surface splits, occasional worm holes and colour variation accepted.Accepted: All sound features and small patches of worm attack.Not accepted: Rot, ring shake, excessive worm attack.

Contact us

Wootton Bassett
01793 853 281

01249 813 173