Tuesday, 11 June 2019 / London, UK

DINING TABLES: ASH VS. OAK


Picking the right kind of wood for your dining table sounds so easy, right? You just waltz into your nearest furniture store and pick the prettiest wooden table on display. Wrong. Even if you're looking to buy a table in a high street shop, you should consider the type of wood you're buying. Why? Because although wood is durable, it's not totally carefree (what material is?) and you'll want to make sure that the wooden table you're buying a) suits your interior scheme, and b) suits your lifestyle.

You may know from my previous post that I am in the process of buying a new dining table. You probably don't know that I have decided to go for wood in the end. I really want something totally different this time and have finally decided to have the dining room table custom made. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind until Will from The Urban Workshop contacted me via Instagram. He saw one of my (many!) 'dining room table dilemma' insta stories and suggested I have the table custom made. Will has a small workshop in North East London (Dalston) and his work really impressed me. Plus it's really nice to support small businesses whenever possible and it's a bonus I get to design my own table too in the process (with the help of Will of course).

Light wood (especially white oak) has always been my favourite when it comes to wooden surfaces. I just love the look of white oak. It can be quite contemporary when paired with the right legs or totally rustic (with a live edge) if that's the look you're going for. Ash tends to be even lighter than oak which is why it's also a contender. Both are hardwoods and extremely durable (which is important to me since we have small children). I have been exchanging a lot of emails with Will since our initial chat. I've probably bored him to death with my endless questions, but I really felt like I wanted to learn as much as possible about wood before going ahead.

To help with my decision making, Will sent me some oak and ash samples last week so that I can finally make up my mind. I am the most indecisive person when it comes to décor decision. Don't ask me why. I should be an expert by now, right? Half of the wood samples were oak and the other half ash. I definitely preferred the look of white ash over anything else. The only thing I'm still not 100% sure about is the pattern. Ash is more stripey and the contrast is more obvious in ash. The pattern in oak is a bit more subtle and grainy. White oak was the lightest shade but I felt it still looked quite dark next to white ash. If you're a perfectionist like me, it's so important to see some samples first in real life. Getting a custom made dining table is a big decisison and you can't change your mind once it's built. 





I also did some wood testing. I was trying to see how scratch proof oak and ash actually are.  Dents and marks are pretty common in real wood (although the surface can be sanded down and oiled to look like new) and I found that the oak did not show the dents/scratches as much as the ash did. I guess the grain is quite forgiving in oak. Although I could see the scratches in ash close up, you don't really notice them from a distance so it's not something I would massively worry about. By the way, all the samples Will sent me have been pre-treated (oiled) to achieve a desirable shade. I didn't realise that you can lighten natural colour of wood by applying wood oil to it. Also, to achieve a really white shade the wood is often bleached before applying the oil. I find this quite fascinating and I never really understood how the different wood shades are achieved.

Although I'm leaning towards white ash at the moment, Will is kindly sending me few more oak samples. They will be a bit paler than the oak samples he previously sent me. I think we are trying to achieve a similar shade to white ash but with the pattern of oak. It's such a hard decision, isn't it? Both are hardwoods, although oak is marginally more durable. Oak is a bit more moisture resistant than ash though which is definitely a bonus (it's a dining table after all). But ash is the prettier one out of the two for sure, although of course this depends on your personal style. I can't wait to see the samples and hopefully I can make up my mind soon so we can get the ball rolling.

I'll keep you posted!
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