Oak furniture 101
Oak comes in several varieties – antiqued, seasoned and ‘plain’. Antiqued or seasoned oak is oak that’s been aged for several years, and may even have a ‘tree provenance’ – where the tree or the forest that it’s come from has been aged to a certain point before harvesting. In most cases currently this seasoned wood comes from Sweden or other places in the same region.
Another source of antique wood is the reclamation of wood from places with beams or other features that were previously made of oak. Once it’s removed from the building, sanded and cleaned, it’s then converted into furniture. But this carries an even higher premium than ‘regular’ wood, as this antiqued wood often has character that you won’t find in any other piece of wood.
Antique furniture must haves
There are a couple of must haves with antique furniture. One of them is the certainty that your antique, seasoned wood isn’t weaker than regular wood. You need to ensure that you don’t have any infections, or internal rot, or mould. You also need to be sure that you don’t have woodworm or other problems or insects, because that will weaken your end product.
You should also try to seal your antique furniture if it hasn’t already been sealed – this will preserve your furniture for much longer than unsealed wood.
You’ll find that you can seal your wood in several dozen finishes – though antiqued wood works best with wax, clear lacquer or basic oil. Waxed antique oak looks great – it brings out the texture and character of the wood, without obscuring it. Wax is hard to maintain however and can chip and dent fairly easily.
Clear lacquers or varnishes are also a great choice for oak – again, they bring out the stunning natural beauty of the wood without ruining its character and create a contemporary look that is really popular right now. One of the biggest problems with using varnish or lacquer on really old pieces of oak, such as beams from churches or old buildings is it will probably soak a lot of it up before you can get an even coating. Even if it doesn’t if you’ve got dents or chips that lends character that may pool varnish, giving a nice feel and even level to your surface.
Finally, oiling the wood can be a great balance between lacquer and wax – the finish can be slightly more sheer, and soft, but on gnarled piece of wood, you may find that it looks odd and out of place.
No matter what the finish you choose, antique Oak furniture is a great investment and can look amazing for years to come with very little care.