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Why Oak?

by loneduckcustoms
posted 10-07-2012 10:07 PM


27 replies so far

View knotscott's profile

knotscott

5453 posts in 2028 days


#1 posted 10-07-2012 10:26 PM

Oak is plentiful, it’s available, it’s affordable, it’s popular, it’s strong, and it looks “OK”. But I agree….there’s got to be a piece of oak in just about every dwelling in North America! It’s rarely my first choice, but sometimes it’s the only choice that matches the other furniture or fixtures.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

View teejk's profile

teejk

1215 posts in 1337 days


#2 posted 10-07-2012 10:28 PM

oak is widely available and pretty tough. and properly finished is a very pretty wood. what do you propose to sell in lieu?

View derosa's profile

derosa

1556 posts in 1488 days


#3 posted 10-07-2012 10:42 PM

I think it is due to a lot of people liking arts and crafts or mission style furniture which is fairly simplistic and fits with a wide range of households; much of it tends to be oak or associated in people’s minds with oak. Personally I find white oak to be a very uninspiring wood for me to work with though admittedly it can be interesting when quarter sawn, I also won’t turn it down when it is .30 cents a BF like the last time. Red oak is nice IMHO and looks nicer finished. Cherry or apple are my preferred woods followed by maple and any number of exotics.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View loneduckcustoms's profile

loneduckcustoms

7 posts in 710 days


#4 posted 10-07-2012 11:02 PM

Around here oak a lot of time is just expensive as black walnut. What I guess what I dislike about oak is the perception people have with oak. It is not perfect but people expect it from the woodworker. When I build, I like to figure out how best to use what I have and not worry if it’s perfect.

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3760 posts in 2020 days


#5 posted 10-07-2012 11:25 PM

loneduckcustoms,

I have a couple hundred board feet of native Iowa red oak … 100 years old! It was salvaged from a farm house in Wright county. It is beautiful!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View teejk's profile

teejk

1215 posts in 1337 days


#6 posted 10-07-2012 11:57 PM

loneduck…depends on what your customers want…black walnut has the strength but not usually the highly figurement (I’d add cherry to that list as well). If people want “wild”, then oak is the best choice on the cheaper domestics. If more subdued, then tell them that.

and since I am in Wisconsin, where do you find black walnut at the same price as red oak? I’m ready to start the truck!

View derosa's profile

derosa

1556 posts in 1488 days


#7 posted 10-08-2012 12:13 AM

Teejk, if you spend the time looking you can find some really amazing looking cherry with wild figure. Quarter sawn can have some interesting flecks that shimmer while flat sawn can produce amazing swirl effects to the grain. Too many people think cherry should have perfectly straight grain but I like the pieces that those people prefer to leave behind.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View mountainaxe's profile

mountainaxe

82 posts in 1158 days


#8 posted 10-08-2012 12:21 AM

i agree that oak is somewhat cheap and readily available. With that said, mahogany and cherry are my choice for any furniture grade work. On the other hand, if you’re just going to paint a piece, why spend more? Go to a big box store and buy a load of pine…it’s easy to work with and doesn’t break the bank.

-- Jeff, "The things I make may be for others, but how I make them is for me."

View loneduckcustoms's profile

loneduckcustoms

7 posts in 710 days


#9 posted 10-08-2012 12:32 AM

I would like to explain a little further. I had someone ask me to make a set of kitchen cabinets but when they explained that they did not want any defects, understand I hate to waste wood and that when I tried to explain how much more it would be because of the waist involved in meeting what they wanted. Also with the time involved to get what they would like, they couldn’t understand. I ended telling them that I could not meet their expectations. Just starting a business and having to turn people away because they have this idea that oak comes perfect. How would you have and do handling a situation like this?

Fairfield Iowa on craigslist $1bf all hardwoods oak, hickory, black walnut. Cut to order. A lot of people I know consider walnut a pest tree. I’m going to cut 5this big ones from the yard because they cause to meany problem. It’s used as firewood.

View Dallas's profile

Dallas

2905 posts in 1140 days


#10 posted 10-08-2012 12:36 AM

Interesting responses so far.

I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and finding any wood in quantity that wasn’t SPF or Hemlock or cedar was expensive, except for oak.

Hard wood there was nearly non existent.

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11659 posts in 2341 days


#11 posted 10-08-2012 01:01 AM

Oak is so ‘70’s-ish…....
People want it because it’s 1} Easy to say , 2} been seen in relatives kitchens , 3} don’t know that there are so many other choices out there…....4} will probably want you to stain it a different color , 5} Unedumacated…LOL

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View TraumaJacques's profile

TraumaJacques

433 posts in 2153 days


#12 posted 10-08-2012 01:25 AM

I have asked myself the same question and here is what I have come up with.
Oak is easily recognisable and somewhat common in North American furniture, flooring, mouldings and kitchen cabinets. I personally do not particularly like working with red oak (white oak in some applications is ok)
Has a creative craftsman it is my job to try to convince the customer of their best options but at the end of the day if they want Oak then oak it is.

-- All bleeding will eventually stop.

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2833 posts in 901 days


#13 posted 10-08-2012 01:42 AM

I think the opposite. No one wants oak anymore. I happen to be in the minority that actually likes the look of good ole red oak, but only with a natural finish. QSWO is one of the most beautiful woods out there in my opinion, but maybe it’s because I tend to gravitate toward early arts and crafts style.

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

14147 posts in 991 days


#14 posted 10-08-2012 02:46 AM

Everyone seems to be in love with Oak. I agree, even locally there are much more beautiful woods. If you’re in Iowa, you have many choices there. Oak is traditional, but if you show people what’s available you can usually win them over. And if you don’t, you have plenty of oak trees :-)

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View rance's profile

rance

4132 posts in 1813 days


#15 posted 10-08-2012 03:06 AM

>How would you have and do handling a situation like this?

LDC, I would suggest they provide the wood. I did that with the ball project I did a few months ago. It worked out great. My client ended ‘up close and personal’ with the suppliers of the wood so they could experience first-hand how much wood costs. The whole job worked out great.

If your client is not willing to do that, then they can find someone else(as you politely told them).

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View Rick M.'s profile

Rick M.

3954 posts in 1033 days


#16 posted 10-08-2012 03:22 AM

Loneduck, why would send a customer away that wanted defect free cabinets? I would want defect free cabinets too if they were oak. How many tons of oak get burned for firewood each year? It isn’t a precious resource that you need to conserve, it literally grows on trees (hardee har). You’re not going to stay in business long that way.

-- |Statistics show that 100% of people bitten by a snake were close to it.|

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3760 posts in 2020 days


#17 posted 10-08-2012 03:39 AM

Wormil is correct!

A lot of pallets are made out of oak and a company back in Illinois would deliver a dump truck full of cut offs for FREE!

Many small pieces but some very useable after planing, however, most of these deliveries were for firewood!

I disagree with Dusty56, no wood goes out of style, the style may have gone by but not the wood!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View MonteCristo's profile

MonteCristo

2097 posts in 841 days


#18 posted 10-08-2012 04:22 AM

I find it perversely amusing that some people with quite a bit of coin fill their houses with oak, blisssfully unaware that oak was what the poor guys had centuries ago when the rich dudes had mahogany and walnut. Oak is just one of many useful hardwoods it seems to me.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 1622 days


#19 posted 10-08-2012 02:28 PM

Just as there are trends in wallpaper and carpet (remember the brown and orange horrors of the seventies?) there are trends in wood. White oak has been in vogue for the last ten years. I recently read that walnut will be the next must have timber.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2546 days


#20 posted 10-08-2012 03:20 PM

From a business standpoint I always tried to sell what had the biggest profit margin so if I could buy Oak, or Walnut, or hard Maple at a BARGOON, then that’s what I encouraged in sales cause at the end of the day, one needs to make more money then they spend.

In business, the EGO should be left at home. If a customer wants to have a kitchen made out of cherry, and they want it painted (what a crime )………..then paint it.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11659 posts in 2341 days


#21 posted 10-08-2012 05:30 PM

”In business, the EGO should be left at home. If a customer wants to have a kitchen made out of cherry, and they want it painted (what a crime )………..then paint it.”

Sad but true.....I almost had to do the very same thing until I convinced the customer to go with Poplar if they wanted to paint the project in the end. : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View lumberjoe's profile

lumberjoe

2833 posts in 901 days


#22 posted 10-08-2012 05:39 PM

This is exactly why I could never do this for a living

-- www.etsy.com/shop/KandJWoodCrafts

View ChuckC's profile

ChuckC

691 posts in 1588 days


#23 posted 10-08-2012 06:06 PM

The average person doesn’t know one wood species from the next. To a lot of people Oak is the best because it’s all they know. The same person looks for dovetails on the drawers to see how well it was made.

In the end the guy paying the bill gets to decide but it’s up to the woodworker to provide them with their options.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2546 days


#24 posted 10-08-2012 06:23 PM

True that. Upsell figured book matched, sequenced curly English Sycamore with inlaid walnut details, all curved.

Ka Ching

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View pghmyn's profile

pghmyn

2 posts in 706 days


#25 posted 10-12-2012 01:40 AM

I’ve got several hundred BF of rough sawn oak in my shop, but I prefer to use other species. I am starting to work with more hard woods, and my favorite at this moment is maple.

View oldnovice's profile

oldnovice

3760 posts in 2020 days


#26 posted 10-12-2012 01:54 AM

Love maple too!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1752 posts in 1217 days


#27 posted 10-12-2012 04:04 AM

If I had a nickel for everytime someone said to me that they thought oak is the hardest wood, I could retire from the flooring business.

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

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