Silky Oak timber is commonly used for furniture construction and is popular because of its highly figured and distinctive grain pattern. It can be found in a lot of antique furniture produced in Australia.
There are two types of silky oak;- Southern Silky Oak (Grevillea robusta) and Northern Silky Oak (Cardwellia sublimis). These two types are a different genus to each other and are not closely related to true oaks.
Northern Silky Oak
Northern Silky Oak is a rainforest tree native to North East Queensland between Townsville and Cooktown. The trees grow to about 30 m in height in their native habitat, but only about half as high when cultivated.
Southern Silky Oak
Southern Silky Oak is a fast growing native to the eastern coastal region of Australia. It is the largest tree in the Grevillia genus with trunk diameters exceeding 1 m on mature trees and a height of up to 35 m. They are commonly seen in south east Queensland and are easily cultivated. For this reason, southern silky oak timber is more commonly found than it's northern cousin.
The main feature of Silky Oak, whether northern or southern, is the grain structure. Medulla rays (radial cells that transport fluid between centre and outside of the trunk) are very pronounced in the timber when the wood is quartersawn.
Medulla Rays in Silky Oak
Silky Oak has a density of 590 kg/m³ when dried and a Janka hardness of 3.9 kN, so is fairly soft and light for a hardwood. It is often used for cabinets and dressers and is available as a veneer or solid lumber. It is easy to identify and I'm sure you will see some in your travels this week.