Oak smells of vomit

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Forum topic by dpoisson posted 726 days ago 3301 views 0 times favorited 22 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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172 posts in 1539 days

726 days ago

Hi, I’m sorry for the rather description subject, but it is what it is. I’m turning a very small piece of oak and it just smells bad. I wouldn’t go as far as say it reeks of vomit, but if that wood could talk, it wouldn’t surprise me if there is some involved.

I’ve never seen anything like it (although I’m still a newbie). Is there any wood conditions that could cause such a smell? Color and looks of the oak doesn’t look any different than other pieces I’ve turned.




22 replies so far

View HerbC's profile


1161 posts in 1484 days

#1 posted 726 days ago

Some species of oak sometimes have a very sour smell. I’ve heard it may be caused by a bacterial infection in the wood. Once you’ve finished the project, including sealing with some type of finish, things should become a bit less funky.

Good Luck!

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Max's profile


55956 posts in 2897 days

#2 posted 726 days ago

Did the wood come from a pallet?? I have had wood that had a similar smell that I got from pallets. Either do to what was on the pallet or being around moisture for a long time.

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View Max's profile


55956 posts in 2897 days

#3 posted 726 days ago

I have also had this occur in what they call swamp oak..

-- Max "Desperado", Salt Lake City, UT

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 1301 days

#4 posted 726 days ago

Bacterial wetwood in red oak will smell like this. Be sure to wear a respirator when you’re working with it. Once it is dry, it will be fine and the odor should go away.

-- Scott, North Carolina,

View chrisstef's profile (online now)


10618 posts in 1631 days

#5 posted 726 days ago

The elusive southern puke oak … very well regarded in the English Pub scene.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View tenontim's profile


2131 posts in 2369 days

#6 posted 725 days ago

To me, red oak smells like that. Someone barfed German cheese and beer in a old sock, vomit. That’s why I use white oak.

View Ryan Haasen's profile

Ryan Haasen

362 posts in 1025 days

#7 posted 725 days ago

Haha, I thought I was the only one who thought this! I find purple heart also smells like vomit.

-- Ryan

View joewilliams's profile


88 posts in 749 days

#8 posted 725 days ago

...after reading this, I wish I hadn’t eaten that last slice of pizza ):

-- Joe - - - something witty should go here - - -

View WDHLT15's profile


1092 posts in 1100 days

#9 posted 725 days ago

I am with Herb and Scott. Bacterial infection. Common in oak, especially if the tree grew in water-logged conditions.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT15 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln

View gfadvm's profile


10711 posts in 1314 days

#10 posted 725 days ago

I too have smelled this in red oak flooring (not all of it). Those smelly pieces were softer and MUCH more porous than the non-vomit pieces. Your description of the smell is very accurate.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View dpoisson's profile


172 posts in 1539 days

#11 posted 723 days ago

Wow, thanks everyone for your input. I’m also glad that a couple of people can confirm I’m not delusional!




View tyskkvinna's profile


1308 posts in 1610 days

#12 posted 723 days ago

Most of the oak I work with is local swamp oak – black oak. Smells like vomit, everybody complains in the building when I use it.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

View jeepturner's profile


920 posts in 1417 days

#13 posted 723 days ago

Red oak just has that odor. The greener it is the worse the smell.

-- Mel,

View Mainiac Matt 's profile

Mainiac Matt

3870 posts in 953 days

#14 posted 723 days ago

Red oak has a pungent smell… Though I don’t find it offensive.

I’ve worked with some white oak that had a very strong ammonia smell…. I hired some help on a timber framing project years ago and one of the guys called it “Piss Oak”

-- Pine is fine, but Oak's no joke!

View Moron's profile


4666 posts in 2518 days

#15 posted 723 days ago

try eating pickled eggs and gallons of draft beer, suck back a few hot Italian sausage and then vomit

oak begins to smell like a rose

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

showing 1 through 15 of 22 replies

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