As a natural product, the colour and grain of oak can vary from one piece to another. In addition to the warm tones and grains, some oak features unique markings called medullary rays which can add character, beauty and uniqueness to your staircase.
Medullary rays (also known as Pith Rays or Tiger Marks) are sometimes mistaken for damaged, repaired or water marked wood but are in fact a natural feature of the timber. The marks are caused by sap moving through the wood perpendicular to the rings as nutrition is transported from it’s core to the outer areas leaving silver or gold ribbons and is an important part of the tree’s growing process.
The presence of the marking,s like many things, are subjective. Far from being a defect in the wood, these markings are prized by many carpenters and customers for their traditional, high end appearance and because they are an indication of the finest oak from the prized part of the tree. Some carpenters even pride themselves on using timber with medullary rays. They are most prominent in oak which has been quarter sawn which reduces expanding, twisting and warping [learn more here].
Other companies such as John Lewis celebrate the aesthetic properties of medullary rays in the products:
“Variation in colour, shading and grain makes each table entirely unique to its owner, and celebrates the natural beauty of the materials used. Knots, as well as medullary rays created when the wood is cut across the grain, produce interesting features such as growth rings and flecks, all to be enjoyed as part of the range’s aesthetic appeal.” – johnlewis.com
As with other fine oak furniture, because we only select the finest oak for our installations and these markings are natural feature, you may find some medullary rays in the timber we use.
Examples of medullary rays in spindles:
Examples of medullary rays in handrail:
Examples of medullary rays in newel posts: