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Period House, 8 January 2008

Robert Alcroft oak specialists Vincent Reed gave me this fascinating bit of history: Reclaimed oak flooring consists of ancient boards, produced up to 350 years ago by two men with a huge saw in a pit. This is where the terms ‘top dog’ and ‘under dog’ originated, with the upper man pushing down on the saw while his apprentice below pulled it down. The action created distinctive saw-marks which remain on the finished boards, an important indicator of their age and character. After the mid-19th Century steam-powered saws came into use, and such marks are not found on later boards. The best quality pine comes from the far North (Scandinavia and the Arctic circle) because the rings are closer together, and it’s highly resinous, meaning less shrinkage.

The timber known as ‘pitch pine’ is often Oregon pine, a similar colour and more widespread.

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