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Celebrating the Individuality of Wooden Furniture

By ercol on 29 January 2019

Wooden furniture is a staple in homes across Britain. It looks and feels beautiful, with an organic quality adding character to any room.

Windsor dining collection
Windsor dining collection

Each piece is a living, breathing organism, which is exactly why we draw so much pleasure from working with wood at ercol. Whether it’s a table, sideboard or chest of drawers, the woods natural markings emphasise its uniqueness and quality, showing that it’s been crafted from real timber.

Read on to explore the different kind of markings you can expect on wood and how to care for your wooden furniture.

Dots, knots, stripes and grains

When furniture has been crafted from real wood, you can expect all kinds of natural markings. They form their own unique patterns, changing direction or even stopping where the trees growth has altered direction or slowed down:

  • Black dots and knots – These marks are one of the most common in wood furniture, they are where branches have grown out of the tree trunk. These beautiful, natural markings of the tree’s growth vary in shape, size and colour making each piece of furniture quite unique.
Black dots and knots in timber
  • Medullary Rays – Frequently found in oak, these markings are often referred to as ‘tiger stripes’ or ‘pith rays’ they occur where nutrients are carried to the surface of the tree trunk or branch. They will show depending on which way the wood has been cut.
Medullary Rays
Medullary Rays
  • Grain – These markings run the length of the tree, you can find a beautiful mixture of straight and wild grain and grain that goes in different directions.  Wild grain is particularly found in ash timber, this is completely natural and happens during the tree’s maturing process, if grain patterns are very visible then it means that piece of wood was from a relatively old tree. The Windsor collection encapsulates this perfectly, with powerful grain structures.
Windsor bureau
Windsor bureau

The colour of real wood

The unique character of real wood extends to its colour. Timber changes colour and mellows over time, a new piece of furniture made in the same wood will not necessarily match an older piece.  It will take time to mellow and adjust to the environment that it is now in.

In addition, you will find that different woods vary naturally in colour. Ash, for instance, is a very pale timber, while oak has a naturally warmer and sometimes yellowy colour. This also means that lacquers or stains will not look the same on two different species of wood. When applied, they will be accepted into the natural make-up of the timber in varying ways and bring out a different colour in the wood.

Artisan 2 door sideboard
Artisan 2 door sideboard

Many people refer to wood as a colour, eg ‘teak colour’ or ‘light oak colour’ which is incorrect.  Teak and oak are the actual wood and can also vary in shade and colour.  Here at ercol we apply a stain to some of our ranges.  Windsor is made of ash and is available in ‘light’, ‘golden dawn’, etc.. we then apply a lacquer on top of this to protect the timber.  Our oak ranges simply have a clear matt lacquer applied to protect the natural wood and to add a tactile feel to the furniture.  We have a selection of oak collections but the natural colour tones can all vary depending how the oak has grown in the forest.

Romana sideboard
Romana sideboard

Caring for real wood

Because of its character and idiosyncrasies, wooden furniture requires a certain level of care. This starts when furniture is delivered into your home. It may have been in a cold warehouse or lorry for a few days so may need a couple of weeks to settle. During this time, the wood will adjust to central heating and the warmth of your home, any movement that occurs will settle down and the furniture will return to how it should be, ie stiff drawers will ease and extension leaves fit into place.

Movement can also occur seasonally, you can experience this movement during the Spring when the air can be damp and wet and also in the Winter when you turn on your central heating.

It’s important to note that timber does mellow and change colour, when using your furniture, especially in the first year. If your table has an extension leaf, for example, it should be left out for the first few months so that the whole of the surface will mellow and adjust to the light  in the same way. Similarly, don't leave placemats, pots and crockery on your furniture for the first few months to allow the wood to mellow while it is settling into its environment.

Choosing your perfect wooden furniture

Whichever piece of beautiful wooden furniture you choose, remember that timber is a living and breathing organism. It will soak up the light, heat and environment around it and have natural markings which are unique to each species of tree.

Marino sofa
Marino sofa

At ercol, we use a range of wood types to produce stylish, functional furniture, from ash and oak to elm, beech and walnut. It’s exactly what makes our furniture so unique, elegant and distinctive. Want to know more? Take a look at our furniture collections online or request a copy of the latest ercol catalogue.


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