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brianhabby

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Hello,

I've been asked to make a garden gate for a friend and she has said that it must definitely be made of hardwood and preferably oak for maximum durability. Am I right in believing that English oak is more durable that the commonly available American White?

All comments welcome of course,

regards

Brian
 

Phil Pascoe

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I once made alloy caps for two 12"x12" oak gate posts - everyone thought I was mad for bothering, but they are still there and perfectly sound
37 years later. Moral of story-- try to design them with little or no end grain showing on the top, it's where the rot starts.Also if you soak them in cuprinol or similar, do it before you put it together so the insides of the joints are done. I soaked the parts of my garden gate- it's only painted spruce- and it's sound, after16 years.
 

Sgian Dubh

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brianhabby":2aiemzo7 said:
Am I right in believing that English oak is more durable that the commonly available American White?
The heartwood of both American white oaks and the European oaks (Quercus petraea and Q. robur) are durable. The sapwood of both the European and American white oaks are not durable. Durable in timber technology terms means the timber will last between 15 and 25 years in ground contact, eg, gate posts, railway sleepers, etc. Whilst the European oaks mentioned above have a reputation for being somewhat more durable than the American white oaks, the American ones are still durable and a gate made from the stuff can reasonably be expected to last for a couple or three decades exposed to the elements but not in ground contact: therefore you can count any gate made with the stuff as long lasting.

It's also true that air dried oak is generally the right sort of material to make exterior artefacts because the moisture content of locally air dried European oak is likely to be at about 20- 25% MC, therefore it's at about the MC it will experience during the lifetime of the gate.

On the other hand I advise that if you find American white oak is significantly cheaper than local air dried oak for some reason, then it may still be a serious contender for a gate project. It's true the American stuff will have been dried to 7%± MC because all oak imported from the US to the UK is dried in the general expectation that it's destined for internal furniture or joinery projects. Even very dry wood can be used for external artefacts-- you just need to allow for the inevitable expansion that will take place as the wood acclimatises to external UK conditions. Slainte.
 

brianhabby

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Thanks for all your valuable comments guys, I'll see what is available locally and then decide. I was already planning to have very little, if any, end grain pointing skywards anyway and the posts for the frame will not be in the ground. The gate is more of a doorway in a passage so will be fastened to a wall either side.

regards

Brian
 

Nick Gibbs

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The other option to consider is sweet chestnut, which is probably the most durable of British hardwoods. However it may not grow well in your part of the world, as it likes protected warmer climes, so you may not have good local supplies. It's certainly a good idea to choose British oak if you can, not only for durability's sake but also to encourage the use of local species.
 

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