Oak Grain Explained

We call them "Tiger Marks", Some customers complain to us that they look like "Filler Marks" or "Laquer Splashes". They are in fact found on all pieces of oak furniture and show that the piece of furniture has been produced from one of the best cuts of Oak from the tree. We have tried to explain below how they are naturally produced and included links to wikipedia.

Why choose Quarter Sawn Oak?

In order to produce quarter-sawn wood you must cut away from the growth rings at a 90-degree angle. This will produce a vertical uniform grain pattern. Quarter sawn boards will have a grain with straight tight lines running the full length of the board. The better this is done the better the chance for achieving the sought after medullary ray flecks. In addition to being a beautiful piece of wood quarter, sawing increases the structural soundness of the board. They are less likely to twist, warp or cup, holds a better finish and does not allow fluids to penetrate easily. 

During the growth phase of the tree the purpose of medullary ray is to transport nutrition between the core of the trunk and the outer parts. The medullary rays are almost an unnoticeable colour in some other wood species. They radiate from the centre of the oak log to the bark, and when the log is quarter sawn, the rays are cut at a very low angle which reveals more of their surface than if the log was slabbed off which in turn increases the chance to getting the famous medullary ray flecks.

There are also some attractive structural benefits to quarter sawn oak. It is about 50% more stable than plain sawn which results in significantly reduced expansion, contraction, twisting, warping and cupping, it holds finishes better and it does not allow liquids to readily pass through it.

Medullary Rays
In botany, Medullary rays refer to a characteristic found in woods. In this context the term refers to radial sheets or ribbons extending vertically through the tree across and perpendicular to the growth rings. Also called pith rays or wood rays, these formations of primarily parenchyma cells allow the radial transmission of sap and are essential in the process of tylosis. In quartersawn material, where the wood is cut into boards with the growth rings roughly perpendicular to the face of the board, the medullary rays often produce beautiful figure such as silver grain, medullary spots, pith flecks, etc.