#54: English Oak

Bird Number: 85
Date: July 26, 2012
Wood: English Oak (Quercus robur)
Source: Fellow carver

Many carvers are wood packrats. Most carvers have at least experimented with woods other than the standard basswood and butternut, and some make a point to carve many different types. Like me, they’ll pick up anything that looks interesting. Invariably, they end up looking for a way to get rid of some of those pieces after a while, and they’re happy to donate wood to a project like mine. This piece came from a fellow member of the Central Texas Woodcarvers Association (the local carving club).

Although there are about 600 different kinds of oaks, I’m led to believe that most of the woods are quite similar to each other. Certainly, many oaks are similar to the Post Oak that’s quite common in my area. The English oak, though, is quite different.

Native to most of Europe, English oak is the species by which Quercus (the oaks) is defined. If you look up pictures of oak leaves or acorns, the most common examples you’ll see are from Q. robur. It’s a common timber tree, planted for its long lasting and durable heartwood. The contrasting grain pattern makes for beautiful furniture and other wood work.

What surprised me most was the softness of the wood. I expected oak to be very hard, but this species seems to carve easier than black walnut. I could easily have carved this bird with a knife rather than with the power carver. I’ll probably take a knife to the other cutout I made.

Note, August 17: I did carve the other cutout with a knife. It was, as I expected, a pleasure to carve.

Lovely stuff, this English oak. I only have the one other bird cutout, but I’ll definitely snap up another chunk of this stuff if given the chance.