Silky Oak Furniture
What is Silky Oak Timber?
In Australia and New Zealand, the term “silky oak” refers to a variety of different genera and species. Silky oak (Grevillea robusta) grows naturally on the coast and ranges in southern Queensland and New South Wales as far south as Coffs Harbour in subtropical rainforest, dry rainforest, and wet forests. It is a medium-to-large tree that can grow to be 120 feet tall or higher and its distinctive yellow flowers make it favoured as an ornamental tree.
The silky oak of Australia has some oak-like characteristics, but it is not a real oak (Quercus). Australian silky oak is a species of Cardwellia sublimis that is also known as lacewood due to the lace-like figure found in some logs.It is now uncommon in its natural habitat, but it has been widely planted, including on Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands. It has also been introduced in Brazil, East Africa, Sri Lanka, Africa, India and Florida, Hawaii and California in the United States.
While it is no longer as widely available as it once was, Silky Oak retains a strong presence in furniture design and antique furniture, especially in reproductions of early twentieth-century styles. It’s most notable characteristic is its decorative quartersawn figured wood. The medullary rays’ direction provides a splendid palette of brilliantly figured ribbons and textured shapes. Resistant to wood rot, it was commonly used for exterior window joinery prior to the introduction of aluminium. Silky Oak has a long and well-known history in the manufacture of furniture, and it was particularly common among early twentieth-century cabinetmakers in South East Queensland. It retains a strong presence in furniture design and is popular with architects and custom furniture makers, especially in reproductions of early twentieth-century styles.
Silky oak has a long history of use of decorative veneer, fences, architectural woodwork, cabinetry, chairs, parquet and plank flooring, interior joinery, cladding, panelling and boats. Because of its tonal and aesthetic characteristics, it has become popular for side and back woods on guitars made by Larrivée and others. Silky oak is a common alternative for furniture and decorative panelling in Australia. Historically, it was also a major player in the flooring market but other harder, less costly Australian woods have largely replaced it. Recent custom requests for this timber include a mirror, dressing table, bookcase, shelves, doors, wardrobe, chest of drawers and dining chairs. It is especially suited to antiques and pieces created in an art deco style.