The Major Oak Tree in Sherwood Forest was home to Robin Hood's men. But how many things are made from oak, and why is it so popular ?
If you believe in folklore, which I do, and you believe in Robin Hood, which I do, then you will know that The Major Oak tree in Sherwood Forest is supposed to have been the hideaway for Robin’s band of Merry Men.
According to the legend, the men used to hide in the hollow of the tree, and if this is to be believed, then Robin’s little ninjas must have been the size of pygmies. I mean, how many men can you get inside a tree for heaven’s sake? And another thing: the legend states that Robin was active in the 12th century, so according to my calculations, the tree was barely a sapling and therefore couldn’t have been much bigger than the yukka plant that resides in my living room. And nobody’s going to fit into that, I can tell you. Not even my cat, and believe me, he’s tried.
The Major Oak is a huge mammoth of a tree, worthy of all the titles bestowed upon it: ‘Britain’s Favourite Tree’ and ‘England’s Tree of the Year’ to name but a few. It’s approximately 10 metres in circumference, 30 metres or so in height, and is estimated to weigh more than 20 tonnes. Don’t ask me how they guess the weight of a tree. Height * mass index – negative force * combustion..? Not a clue. But it’s heavy. I know, because I’ve tried lifting it, and it’s bloody heavy.
So, why is this wonderful species of wood so popular with manufacturers and retailers of wooden flooring, not just in the UK, but throughout the world? Nearly 70% of all wood flooring sales in the world are oak. Possibly more, but nobody’s ever really counted.
First of all, oak has quite a neutral tone, making it very easy to manipulate in terms of colour and texture. It’s tough, too. If you look at the Brinell rating for oak it’s about 3.9. For those who have never heard of a Brinell test, that just means it’s dead hard. It’s the fact that it grows so slowly that makes oak an extremely durable and stable wood. It’s ideal for a range of purposes from wood flooring to furniture-making and even musical instruments. Yamaha, for instance, make their drums from Japanese oak because of its tonal quality. I know all about the tonal qualities of a Yamaha drum kit because I once worked with a drummer who owned one. My doctor says that one day I should be able to hear properly again…
There are a million different varieties of oak tree, all called quercus something or other, and I won’t even begin to explain about all the different geographical locations where you can find quercus, otherwise we’ll be here till the sun dies out. But they do break down into a few simple categories that are popular for wooden flooring: white oak (which isn’t really white), red oak (which is reddish), American oak (which is pinkish), and French oak (which is yellowish). Other than this simple snippet of info, I wouldn’t be too concerned, because it really is about what you like. Besides, most of the time your supplier will probably just tell you it’s either French, American or European Oak.
Turgon have supplied and installed oak planks up to an incredible 7.5 metres in length, and 500mm in diameter and I can tell you that planks of this size look unbelievably awesome. Remember, though: the larger the planks, the more expensive they’re going to be. But if you’re an architect/designer doing a serious project in a serious sized space, then you’re going to love this serious sized plank. It’s a completely stunning and unique look.