American white oak is a wide-ranging and diverse species from the US, and one of the largest commercial hardwoods used in the UK for interior joinery and furniture applications, from flooring to kitchens, staircases and furniture, among others, says distributor James Latham

Due to the sheer size of the US, American white oak varies vastly from one region to another, and it is vital that the right product is employed for the correct application to avoid disappointment.

American white oak being loaded at Horizon’s log yard

With over 250 years of hardwood experience, James Latham prides itself on stocking the most relevant range of American white oak products for the UK market. As is true of the quality variations from state to state, there are many ways to enhance the product during processing to make a superior quality lumber. Likewise, there are many ways to cut corners and costs to produce a weaker-quality material, albeit at a lower m3 price. True value comes from the yield the wood provides against the price paid.

 All of the American white oak stocked by James Latham is from mills where the company has enjoyed continuous, consistent supply for many years. James Latham takes the time to send staff out to these suppliers on a regular basis, to learn the full story behind the production and ensure consistent quality to best match its customers’ requirements.

 At the top of the range is its Super Prime material. Supplied by one mill, this extremely high-specification American white oak is exclusive to James Latham, and meets its own demanding requirements. It is selected to be defect-free – meaning no sap, no wane, no side bend, no knots, no pin holes and a consistent colour. 

For the customer that prefers to buy a regular FAS (Prime export) grade, James Latham has tailored supply from the Augusta and Salamanca mills, in Virginia and New York State, respectively, both of which produce a clean, all-round American white oak.  

From sawmilling through drying to grading and packaging, their processing methods are all quality-controlled to the highest standard, with no corners cut, resulting in an end product which offers customers impressive yield and overall value.

To complete the package, James Latham offers wood products from its partner Horizon, situated in the heart of Pennsylvania. Horizon offers a unique conversion method in the North American market, in so much as it processes only one log at a time through its bespoke production facility. 

Indeed, the Horizon method is so slick that it actually enables the company to produce ‘log-intact’ material, which gives the craftsman the closest thing they will find to a solid wood book-match veneer.