To Oak or Not to Oak….

I started a project last week using some left over White Oak I had laying around the shop.  The project started out as a two drawer side table with tapered legs.  Once I began working on the table I started thinking…this is where I always get in trouble.  I while back some of you may remember I built a box I called the “tree box” where I carved a tree and put it on the lid.  I have wanted to do something similar to this for a while and decided that it would look really cool to incorporate this design into the table, so after playing around with a few sketches I came up with the design I liked and started on the tree using a chestnut.

The tree is coming along and I have the legs shaped for the table out of the White Oak, now here comes my problem.  Growing up my dad used Oak a lot and I have built many projects from it that have turned out beautifully but I still feel that using any kind of Oak in a project makes it sort of sub standard to say Maple, Cherry, or Walnut.

The question is why?  The wood is hard, durable, clean looking, not bad to work with..so whats the problem?  I believe the problem lies in the commonness of the wood, much of the commercial furniture you see in retail stores is made from it and lets face it, if you can buy it at Home Depot or Lowes’ there is just something taken away from it.  If Mahogany or Wenge were as common as Oak do you think we would consider it so special, probably not.  Now, I am not saying that I think it is a bad wood, as I said before I have used it many times but when building a project that I think could be something special, I have to think is Oak what I really want to use on this?

So the question is do you consider Oak, even White Oak good enough for fine furnature?  If so is it limited to certain styles such as Craftsman?  Let me know what you think.

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