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Natural Beauty: What are the Markings in Wood?

  • 2 min read

Markings on wood… What are they and what causes them?

We’re often asked about the different patterns and markings that appear in the oak used for our furniture. One of the best things about solid wood furniture is its natural appearance – wood is one of the most natural, unprocessed materials that exists and its very character is defined by the environment and conditions it grew it. This means that every tree is unique and, as such, every plank of wood used to make our furniture will have its own character and markings.

Here are a few of the most common wood characteristics you might find on your furniture and what causes them.

Medullary Rays

Medullary Rays in Oak Furniture | Roseland Furniture
Medullary Rays in Oak Furniture

Medullary rays are light lines in the wood. They run in the opposite direction of the wood grain and can resemble tiger stripes.

These beautiful markings are created when sap passes through the tree as it grows. As the sap crosses the circular rings to bring nutrients to the branches and leaves of the tree, lines are formed in the wood grain. Depending on the conditions during the time the tree is growing, some trees can produce a lot of these markings, whilst others show hardly any.

These lines are as much a natural feature of the wood as the circular rings themselves and due to the nature in which they’re produced, give each tree a unique personality which is transferred to the furniture it is used to produce.

Wood Knots

Knots in Oak Furniture | Roseland Furniture
Oak Top with Knot

Probably one of the most common features of wood, knots are dark, round markings in the grain of the wood. A wood knot is formed when a branch grows out of the main trunk of the tree. As the tree continues to grow and more seasonal rings appear, the grain of the wood grows around the knot to create the distinctive swirls and eye shapes.

Colour Variations in Wood

Wood is a living organism and its character is determined on the conditions and environment it grew in. One of the most noticeable is the colour of the wood itself. The colour variation of the wood is something that can be affected by a number of factors. For example, during cooler years when the tree’s growth is slower, rings are closer together causing the wood to appear darker.

The variations in colour of wood are one of its defining characteristics – without them the wood would have an unnatural, ‘manufactured’ feel – we love the slight differences in colour that give each piece of our furniture its own personality.

Colour Changes in Wood

Over time, the environment in your home will cause the wood’s appearance to change slightly – this is part of the natural aging process of wood and is perfectly normal. Sunlight is the biggest factor in this and it causes the wood to become darker over time. Furniture that is placed close to a window will be more affected by this than furniture in darker areas.

💡 Handy Tip: To make sure your wooden furniture ages evenly, regularly move objects and ornaments around to ensure you don’t get patches of lighter wood where they’ve been.

Have a Look at Our Oak Collections

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