We’re almost approaching the end of our Vibrant Veneers series, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty of great facts and information in store for all of you! For the final time in the series, we’re going to be travelling overseas, returning back to America to check out what all the fuss is about with American Oak.
Plyco offers the American Oak veneer in both or Strataply and Laminato ranges, as well as in our Veneered MDF and Veneered Particle Board ranges (under the names Crown American Oak and American White Oak respectively). American Oak is in contention with Eucalypt and Tasmanian Oak for the lightest of our stock veneers, although we think it might be a close second with Eucalypt just pipping it at the post. The grains on our American Oak veneer are very straight and fine, being more obvious to spot with an untrained eye than most of our other varieties. It is also far less earthy in colour than most of the stock options in both our Strataply and Laminato ranges, with it being rather yellow with slight tinges and hints of brown. If you’re looking to pick up some sheets of American Oak in the Strataply variety it comes pressed onto an 18mm birch plywood core with a 2400 x 1200mm sheet size, while the Laminato variety is a High-Pressure Laminate that can be pressed to plywood, MDF or Particle Board and also comes in a 2400 x 1200m sheet size
Our American Oak veneer comes from a tree found in North America that goes by the scientific name of Quercus alba. It is one of the most prominent hardwood species in North America and can be commonly found in Minnesota, Ontario and Quebec, as well as Northern Florida and Eastern Texas – that’s quite a diverse range of habitats! One of the American Oak’s most astounding features how long they can live for. Some trees have been recorded as being over 450 years old, with one American Oak found in New Jersey reportedly being over 600 years old! It stood at 23 metres tall, but unfortunately, the tree began to deteriorate almost a decade ago, before being declared dead in 2016 and being removed in 2017. While the death of any tree is sad to us here at Plyco, we can’t say it didn’t live a long and fruitful life!
The most common locations where American Oak trees are found
The American Oak in New Jersey is a definite outlier in terms of lifespan though, with the typical life being more along the lines of 200 to 300 years. Generally, when found in forests an American Oak will grow to these enormous heights, but when out into the open it develops into a much broader tree with its branches reaching out in a more horizontal fashion.
As we mentioned earlier, American Oak trees are known to thrive in a wide variety of habitats. Whether it be ridges, valleys, dry or moist areas, there really is no shortage of locations where they could possibly be found. You’ll even find them growing up in the Appalachian Mountains!
A beautiful American Oak in full force
The natural characteristics of the tree lend it to being extremely water and rot resistant. This makes the product desirable in a huge array of applications. Wine barrels, construction, shipbuilding and interior finishing are just some of the distinctive ways people regularly use their American Oak timber. If you want to get even more unique and out there, it’s also been used historically in Japanese martial arts to create weapons. Specifically, the bokken (a type of sword) and jo (a wooden staff) are created with this type of oak because of its density, strength and slim chance of splintering if broken. To top it all off the USS Constitution, a ship named by George Washington was made from American Oak to give it extra resistance to cannon fire. The Constitution was first launched in 1797, making it the oldest commissioned naval ship that is still afloat.
Fun Fact: The iconic tree from the film The Shawshank Redemption was an American Oak. The tree was over 200 years old when the film released and became a popular landmark for tourists. Unfortunately, in July of 2011 half of the tree came down due to being split by lightning, and five years later the rest of the tree succumbed to damage during a period of heavy winds.
It’s fair to say that American Oak is one interesting species of timber! It’s got almost an infinite amount of uses, can grow in radically different habitats and locations, it lives for a ridiculously long time and its been a movie star. With credentials like that it’s easy to see why we’re the world’s biggest fans of the American Oak veneer here at Plyco. If you too like the sound and looks of this veneer, why not head over to our online store? You can purchase it in our Strataply, Laminato, MDF and Particle Board varieties. Alternatively, you can get in touch with the Plyco team and request some samples of American Oak, or even come into our Fairfield showroom to view our entire range!