Why Oak?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by loneduckcustoms posted 10-07-2012 10:07 PM 1732 views 0 times favorited 27 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View loneduckcustoms's profile


7 posts in 2106 days

10-07-2012 10:07 PM

Hi I’m new but have liked looking for some time. My question is why does everyone want things to be built out of oak? I’m thinking of starting a small shop here in Iowa to make ends meet. I’ve been woodworking for years but never as a business. My biggest problem is that everyone wants things made from oak until I show them that there is more and to my eye, more beautiful woods out there. When I build, I love the character of the wood and try to make it the main feature. Do all of you run into the same thing?)

27 replies so far

View knotscott's profile


8078 posts in 3425 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


1215 posts in 2734 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


1577 posts in 2885 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


7 posts in 2106 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


6936 posts in 3417 days

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


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


1215 posts in 2734 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


1577 posts in 2885 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


149 posts in 2554 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


7 posts in 2106 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


3599 posts in 2536 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


11819 posts in 3737 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


433 posts in 3550 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


2899 posts in 2297 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.


View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29530 posts in 2387 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 :-)

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View rance's profile


4259 posts in 3210 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--

showing 1 through 15 of 27 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics