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white oak verses red oak

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Forum topic by piesafejim posted 07-18-2011 03:21 PM 3865 views 0 times favorited 33 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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piesafejim

33 posts in 1188 days


07-18-2011 03:21 PM

I have a question for all you LJ’s out there. I have never worked with white oak beore i have always used red oak. I got an order to make 2 coffee type tables this week. I am using square corner posts, one set from red oak and one from white, when i got my stock worked down both pieces were 28” long and 10” wide and the white oak seemed to weigh a great deal more and i was wondering if the density of wite oak just naturally makes it heavier? Any ideas out there


33 replies so far

View Cosmicsniper's profile

Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1815 days


#1 posted 07-18-2011 04:25 PM

Jim: Red oak is more porous than white oak. I haven’t worked a lot of white oak either, but the difference in weight is likely reflective of that. From a hardness standpoint, they are similar however.

Edit: “Porous” is probably a bad term. Truth is that they can be difficult to tell apart, but it’s been said that white oak has more blockage on the pores. I’d reason that it could cause the difference you feel in weight. Or, perhaps it’s just a difference in moisture content?

Funny, but it’s not likely most of us have equal sized samples of both woods on hand!

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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knotscott

5463 posts in 2032 days


#2 posted 07-18-2011 04:43 PM

I was thinking it was likely due to moisture content too, but it’s really hard to know.

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

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dbray45

2503 posts in 1433 days


#3 posted 07-18-2011 04:47 PM

White oak has a membrane in the pores that make it almost water proof and a pain to dry. It is more dense and is usually not red. It is great for outdoors where red oak is not a good choice. They also smell differently.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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TopamaxSurvivor

14752 posts in 2332 days


#4 posted 07-18-2011 04:56 PM

Do they finish differently?

-- "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

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Cosmicsniper

2199 posts in 1815 days


#5 posted 07-18-2011 05:08 PM

They are both very forgiving and finish well. I think white is prettier, especially with the ray flecks and tighter earlywood, but I use red oak a lot more because it’s easy to come by in Texas (IIRC, your a Texan too, so you certainly know that, Topamax).

It’s not a given that red oak is always “red,” but for the most part I do have to compensate for the reddish hue it will impart to the finish. It’s always shifted in that direction and seldom matches my expectations of a color. So, I normally cut my toner with a little green dye to compensate for that when I spray and color match woods.

-- jay, www.allaboutastro.com

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tenontim

2131 posts in 2401 days


#6 posted 07-18-2011 05:12 PM

White oak’s “pores” close up when it’s kiln dried, making less likely to soak up moisture, which makes it more rot resistant. On the hardness scale, white oak is rated at 1360 and red at 1060. They finish about the same, except you have to contend with more redness in the color. Red oak does not fume well. It takes on a greenish tint. With the use of aniline dyes, I’ve been able to make them match in color. Personally, I prefer using white oak. Quarter sawn red will usually have a more spectacular flake in it than white oak. I can usually tell the difference when it’s being cut. Red smells like bad cheese to me.

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piesafejim

33 posts in 1188 days


#7 posted 07-19-2011 12:44 AM

Thanks for all the input everyone. The reason the 2 were the same is i planed 2 blocks down and was going to try and mix red and white but there is so much difference that the white went back into the stack for another project and i have always tried to figure out what i could compare the smell of red oak to and i will agree on the the rotten cheese lol

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devann

1735 posts in 1349 days


#8 posted 07-19-2011 06:41 AM

I know this is a red oak / white oak thread but I have a question. Is white oak and post oak considered the same species? The white oak described here sounds like what we call post oak in this part of the country.

-- Darrell, making more sawdust than I know what to do with

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tenontim

2131 posts in 2401 days


#9 posted 07-19-2011 01:40 PM

Darrell, post oak is in the white oak family. Usually the ones in Texas don’t get as big and that’s why they aren’t commercially cut, which is a good thing. Us Texans have a tendency to cut down any kind of tree and make stuff out of it anyway.

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Waldschrat

505 posts in 2092 days


#10 posted 07-19-2011 06:26 PM

Its not the pores that seal up that make oak more resistant to rot, nor does white oak adsorb moisture slower… a special membrane or something of that sort it does not have.

The reason oak does not rot as quickly is because it has high levels of tanin or tanic acid in it. The same stuff that’s in walnut, black locust and other woods that are also rot resistant. The tanic acid prevents or retards the growth of fungus that eats the wood substance in wood… lignin. Tanic acid is the same thing they used to use or still do maybe to treat leather, and why your hands turn black when you work with oak or other tanic acid bearing woods.

But its is true with certain woods such as Black Locust, the growth of Parynchym cells into the pores of other tissues in the Wood (the scientific terms of which I do not have in front of me in english “Gefaesbegleitend-parynchym” cell grows into the “Toepfel” and becomes “vertult” or plugged up) Which is why it can be sometimes difficult to get a good lamination between two boards.

White Oak is scientifically known as Quercus alba , Red oak (well there are different species I believe 60 in N. America alone) is called I believe Quercus rubra if my memory serves me correct.

The red oak is not very durable outside because it does not have as much tanic acid in it.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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dbray45

2503 posts in 1433 days


#11 posted 07-20-2011 02:55 PM

Not to be a pain in the backside—But you gotta do what you gotta do—Please note
http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/distinguishing-red-oak-from-white-oak

“The pores found in the growth rings on red oak are very open and porous, and should be easily identifiable. White oak, however, has its pores plugged with tyloses, which help make white oak suitable for water-tight vessels, and give it increased resistance to rot and decay.”

-- David in Damascus, MD

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tenontim

2131 posts in 2401 days


#12 posted 07-21-2011 02:20 AM

“The pores found in the growth rings on red oak are very open and porous, and should be easily identifiable. White oak, however, has its pores plugged with tyloses, which help make white oak suitable for water-tight vessels, and give it increased resistance to rot and decay.”
And to add to dbray45’s comment, and dispute Waldschrat’s, red oak does have tanic acid in it, because it will darken with exposure to ammonia fumes. It’s just not a pleasing color.

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dbray45

2503 posts in 1433 days


#13 posted 07-21-2011 01:58 PM

Nicholas – sorry to be that way but I work with a couple of mills and they are not big fans of white oak for this reason. After cutting the flitch, they let these air dry for over a year before they put them in the kiln so they don’t check and they dry thoroughly and evenly, otherwise they don’t dry correctly. It also adds to the cost per bf.

-- David in Damascus, MD

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richgreer

4524 posts in 1731 days


#14 posted 07-21-2011 06:13 PM

You’ll recall that in the days when farmers used horses, a lot of their equipment (wagons, plow handles, etc.) were made of wood. They almost always used white oak because it was cheap and it held up in the weather very well.

FWIW – - White oak will fume very nicely and red oak will not.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

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Waldschrat

505 posts in 2092 days


#15 posted 07-21-2011 06:47 PM

dbray45:

Hey man no problems, I am just a stickler for detail and proper terms and uses, that what made this thread stick out in the first place.

Well allow me to Retort:

Check out what I wrote

What I originally said In addition to the Tannic acid… as a wood preservative (a great preservative by the way), Tyloses! The Plugging of the Parenchym cells … Well that’s exactly what I said… more or less… or tried to anyway! Although the proper term was lost to me at the time I wrote that post.

Tyloses is probably the English word for “vertylt”! I am mostly using these terms in German, so sometimes I forget the english ones.

So If you understand what Tyloses is/are then you know why I spoke up. Tyloses are not any sort of membrane. They are the things that are end up plugging the Parenchym cells. I took the liberty of posting this article here written in english: Very well explained from Wiki.


Tyloses are outgrowths on parenchyma cells of xylem vessels (vascular tissue used for water and mineral transport throughout a plant). When the plant is introduced to a stress like drought or infection, tyloses will fall from the sides of the cells and “dam” up the vascular tissue to prevent further damage to the plant.

Tyloses can aid in the process of making sapwood into heartwood in some hardwood trees, especially in trees with larger vessels.[1] These blockages can be used in addition to gum plugs as soon as vessels become filled with air bubbles, and they help to form a stronger heartwood by slowing the progress of rot

Thats more or less what I tried (obviously not that clearly) to describe. Not to mention as I originally stated the tannic acid in the wood helps to keep fungus at bay.

Not to mention, as well, the pores on oak (vascular pores) that one is able to see with out even a microscope are not necessarily plugged. In fact you can even blow into the endgrain of chunck of oak, if the grain is just right you can feel the air a couple inches away. (But this is something I have tried with Oak over here so this is kind of out of the scope of White oak).

No hard feelings just wanted to the facts to be out there. And you are right oak is not the easiest wood to dry… next to maple, it can be down right difficult especially in artificial drying or kiln drying.

-- Nicholas, Cabinet/Furniture Maker, Blue Hill, Maine

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