White Oak Stays Red Hot in Cabinetry and Flooring
August 5, 2014 | 11:20 am CDT
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Bigleaf maple leaf averages 12 inches but can grow to twice that size.
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Pacific Coast maple kitchen courtesy of Northwest Hardwoods
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Entertainment Center in PC maple courtesy of Northwest Hardwoods
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Guitar made by Marc Culbertson features a tubular quilt figure from big leaf maple. Photo courtesy Marc Culbertson
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Pacific Coast maple lumber courtesy Cascade Hardwood Group
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Pacific Coast maple select lumber courtesy of Northwest Hardwoods
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Family Name:
Quercus alba of the Family Fagaceae

Common Names
White oak, American white oak.

Height/Weight
American white oak ranges in height from 80 to 100 feet with some trees growing to 150 feet, with diameters of 3-4 feet. The average weight is 47 pounds per cubic foot and it has a Janka hardness of 1,350 pounds.

Properties:
• Wood from American white oak dries slowly with a tendency to check, say some sources. Experts recommend mild and slow drying.
• White oak finishes well and takes a variety of surface treatments. The wood has satisfactory gluing properties.
• The wood works well with hand and machine tools. Experts recommend the use of carbide tools when machining the wood.

  Sponsored by: Northwest Hardwoods: Lumber that’s Graded For Yield®.

 

 

American white oak is enjoying what many call a “good run.” It is currently in demand for a wide range of applications including furniture, cabinetry, doors, panels, flooring, musical instruments, boat building and barrels.

“It is prized for its workability properties with both hand and power tools,” said Rick Hearne, owner of Hearne Hardwoods. “It has a beautiful appearance, stability and it stains well. Together those attributes add up to a magnificent hardwood.”

The rift cut and quartersawn Quercus alba are in demand by customers, he said. “The quartersawn white oak is popular for the beautiful rays, but some clients prefer rift cut because it yields a more ‘quiet’ equally attractive figure that stains well, too.” As rift cut, he said, the understated wood makes for beautiful flooring.

With its myriad of uses and visual appeal, white oak’s popularity has stayed steady the past few years, though without much growth, said Scott Korsten, director of marketing for Showplace Wood Products.

“Much of that we suspect has to do with this being a premium species, which carries a more expensive price tag. The wood itself is very durable, but easy to work with when you have the proper tooling,” Korsten said. “Our stains are formulated for the species and its unique character becomes more obvious when the finish is applied....It is truly a character that many people love and appreciate.”

A fan of the quartersawn white oak, Korsten added, “Its unique grain and styling features fit well throughout the home.”

Another reason for its popularity is that it is possible to get large runs of matched lumber from one tree, added Hearne.

Similar in color to European oak, American white oak has a light-colored sapwood and light to dark brown heartwood. More figured than red oak, it also has an open grain and coarse texture, according to information from Northwest Hardwoods.

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