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OAK, RED



Quercus rubra and MANY others (see fact sheet)


A NOTE ABOUT OAKS IN THE USA AND EUROPE



the red oak and white oak groups

There is universal agreement that all oaks belong to the genus Quercus of the family Fagaceae but beyond that there are differing reports on the breakdown. The most common seems to be this:

Leucobalanus, the white oaks, are further subdivided into live oaks, chestnut oaks and the rest of the white oaks.

Erythrobalanus, the red oaks, are further subdivided into the live oaks and the rest of the red oaks.

Live oaks are oaks that keep their leaves year-round and which otherwise come from both the red oak and the white oak groups.

Depending on the authority, there are stated to be somewhere between 250 and 900 different wood producing species in the genus Quercus.

For woodworkers, what matters is this: the oaks that grow in America are generally sold only as red or white, not live or chestnut. Botanists care about the distinction but woodworkers generally have no reason to alhtough you will sometimes see oaks broken out into different species due to differences in hardness or looks. As just one example, burr oaks tend to have MUCH stronger rays than most other oaks.

Another oak commonly sold in America is English brown oak; this is a form of European oak (Quercus petrae) and I have broken it out separately. There are some other woods that use the name oak (some of which I have also broken out separately), but which are not actually oaks. None of these are of the genus Quercus. These include sheoak, fishtail oak, Australian oak, Tasmanian oak, New Guinea oak and various varieties of "silky oak".

a note about red oak from my experience: there may be more porous woods than red oak but I am not aware of them. The vessels in red oak are so large that it is common, in my experience with plain cut boards, to have glue come oozing out of the pores several inches away from where the glue was applied. That is, if you take two plain cut red oak planks and press them against each other with a big blob of glue stopping three inches away from the end, it would not be surprizing to see glue oozing out of the pores at the end. At one inch away it would be surprizing NOT to see glue oozing out of the pores. This messed up the finish on one of my first oak projects because I couldn't get rid of enough of the unexpected glue at a butt end and the subsequent polyurethane cover did not go on at all evenly, leaving a blotchy look to one area.



my samples: --- colors are accurate throughout


very nice, clean, cathedral-grain plank shot at a lumber yard with extreme enlargements present --- the 2nd enlargment does an excellent job of showing the open pores in the flat cut surface. This piece has the classic red oak look, to the extent that there is such a thing.


both sides of a sample plank of Southern red oak / Quercus falcata


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- the pores have gotten a bit clogged up but the fine details are much more clear


both sides of a sample plank of Southern red oak / Quercus falcata --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Northern red oak / Quercus rubra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Northern red oak / Quercus rubra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of curly Northern red oak / Quercus rubra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. NOTE: this piece not only has curly figure, it also has wavy grain as you can see particularly clearly in the side grain closeup below.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE and side grain closeup (showing the wavy grain) from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of curly Northern red oak / Quercus rubra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Texas red oak / Quercus buckeyli --- HUGE enlargements are present


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of scarlet oak (aka red oak) / Quercus coccinea


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of scarlet oak (aka red oak) / Quercus coccinea --- HUGE enlargements are present


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of scarlet oak (aka red oak) / Quercus coccinea --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of scarlet oak (aka red oak) / Quercus coccinea --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Shummard oak / Quercus shumardii --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Nuttal's oak / Quercus texana



end grain and closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Nuttal's oak / Quercus texana --- HUGE enlargements are present


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- the pores have gotten a bit clogged up but the fine details are much more clear


Southern red oak (Q. falcata) sample plank and end grain --- this is a sample plank from the IWCS and was not listed as spalted, although it obviously is, and so is not representative of Southern red oak. This lack of representativeness was common in the samples I got from the IWCS. I emailed them about it but never got a reply.


end grain closeup of the piece directly above



END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of laurel oak / Quercus laurifolia


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of laurel oak / Quercus laurifolia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of willow oak / Quercus phellos


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above



END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of willow oak / Quercus phellos


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of willow oak / Quercus phellos --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This species is in the red oak group.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of cherrybark oak / Quercus falcata --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. NOTE: cherrybark is just another common name for Northern red oak


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of turkey oak / Quercus laevis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This is in the red oak group.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of figured crotch red oak / Quercus rubra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The figure on this piece is not apparent in the pics but when you look at the actual sample, it clearly has a fairly strong curl.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of figured crotch red oak / Quercus rubra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The figure on this piece is not apparent in the pics but when you look at the actual sample, it clearly has a fairly strong curl.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


red oak planks in a lumber yard showing a range of color and grain variety. The first pic covers an area about 5 feet by 5 feet and the second an area of about 2 feet by 2 feet. Both enlargements are present.


planks photographed at a lumber yard


plank shot at a lumber yard, moderately close up


plain sawn plank and end grain --- the unusually yellowish color is correct


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


plain sawn plank and end grain


two more plainsawn red oak boards. color is very accurate


two planks of spalted oak cut from the pieces give to me by John Saxon. The second one shows up MUCH more clearly in the enlargement.


end grain of the two pices


end grain closeups of each


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


plank shot at a lumber yard --- the golden color is accurate and the grain shows up better in the enlargements


flat cut veneer. The wood is slightly lighter and slightly more red than shown here.


flat cut veneer


flat cut veneer and closeup of the same piece


A quartersawn board and a piece of quartersawn thick (1/12th inch) veneer. Color is very accurate on both --- the rays on the board show up much better on the 2nd enlargement. Although the veneer is a full quartersawn cut, the ray flakes are clear but less pronounced than is sometimes the case. See for example, the two veneer pieces directly below which have very pronounced rays.


two pieces of quartersawn veneer with excellent flaky ray figure. The colors, which as you can see differ substantially, are accurate on both.


quartersawn flaky red oak veneer


rift cut flaky red oak veneer


rift cut thick veneer (1/12th inch) clearly showing rays but of course they are only partial since it is rift cut. The color is very accurate, showing how hard it can sometimes be to tell red oak from white oak by color alone (that is, this piece could easily pass for white oak unless you can look at the pores up close).


flat cut curly veneer --- the curl is weak but it is somewhat stronger than what shows up in these pics.


flat cut curly red oak veneer sheet and closeup


rift cut curly veneer --- depending on the viewing angle, the curl shows up better than it does in these head-on pics.


a couple of small chunks of black-line-spalted red maple contributed to the site by Rob Mathison whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Actually, Rob contributed one bigger chunk and I split it into a heavily spalted half and a lightly spalted half to save work on my end grain update process. HUGE enlargements are present.


face grain closeup and side grain closeup showing the spalt lines up close


end grains of both halves and a closeup of the unspalted half's end grain


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the spalted half directly above



NOTE: There are various views directly below of 3 spalted red oak planks. All three of these were contributed to the site by John Saxon of The Cedar Store from whom I regularlly buy excellent quality aromatic red cedar. My profuse thanks to John for this contribution.


both sides of a pair of spalted planks


closeups of both sides of the planks above


both sides of a spalted plank


closeup of one side of the plank directly above



The Wood Book pics


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
red oak (Quercus rubra) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is the fundamental species of hte red oak group (its name means, literally, "red oak") but there are MANY more, a few of which are shown below.


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
scarlet oak (Quercus coccinea) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is in the red oak group.


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
yellow oak (Quercus tinctoria, also listed as yellow bark oak, black oak, and quercitron oak) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is in the red oak group.


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
Spanish oak (Quercus digitata, which is just a syn. for Quercus falcata, also listed as finger oak) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is in the red oak group.


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
Southern red oak (Quercus texana, also listed as Scheck's oak) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is in the red oak group and it is more commonly known as Texas oak.


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
laurel oak (Quercus laurifolia) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is in the red oak group.


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
shingle oak (Quercus imbricaria) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is in the red oak group.


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
water oak (quercus aquatica, also listed as duck oak, possum oak, and punk oak) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is in the red oak group. Q. aquatica is a synonym for the more accepted Q. nigra


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
white-leaf oak (Quercus hypoleuca, which is just a syn. for Quercus hypoleucoides) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is in the red oak group.


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
willow oak (Quercus phellos) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views. This species is in the red oak group.



web pics:


flat cut, quartersawn, and end grain


planks with wet and dry sections; the first is rift cut and was listed as Quercus rubra and the second is flat cut


slabs


a weathered plank


flat cut planks


quartersawn planks


quartersawn planks moistened for the pic and with some nice ray flakes --- both enlargements are present


planks that were listed, with the kind of blatant stupidity that is widespread on the internet, as quartersawn when they are obviously flat cut. Also, these have clearly been moistened for the pics.


rift cut planks


turning stock



flat cut curly planks


flat cut curly planks and a closeup


quartersawn curly planks


plank listed as "figured red oak", --- it's curly but the curl is very weak


a web pic included just to show how unreal some web pictures get. It's as though someone said "Wull, it's called RED oak, so I reckon we oughta make the picture RED, huh Vern?" Aside from the bogus color, the pic looks to be of a really nice piece of oak with some interesting and unusual (for oak) curl in it that you can see better if you enlarge.


flat cut veneer


figured veneer


curly veneer


curly veneer sheets that show up much better in the enlargements; the top two are flat cut and the bottom one is quartersawn


rift cut veneer showing almost no ray pattern at all


rift cut veneer with some ray pattern


quartersawn veneer


veneer, all from the same vendor --- none of this was listed as curly oak, although some of it obviously is


veneer sheet closeups with both levels of enlargement --- the first sheet is clearly curly oak, but was not listed as such


believeable figure, unlikely color. the first pic is a little too light and the second is ridiculously red.


quartersawn, showing rays in the first three, not in the next two. I have no confidence in the color of any of these.


quartersawn veneer with nice ray patterns; the color of the 2nd one is too washed out to be believable


burl veneer


quilted flat cut veneer --- see comments with sample directly below


"figured" veneer. obviously the same kind of figure as the "quilted" veneer directly above, which is just another example of how terms are used loosely, incorrectly, inconsistently, and somewhat arbitrarily on the Internet. I think "figured" is a more correct term in this case than "quilted". For a real quilted look, see "maple, quilted" or the quilted section of the sapele page.


fiddleback red oak, or so says the vendor. Since the curl doesn't really run reliably all the way across the piece, this is technically just curly, not fiddleback. It IS an unusually tight curl for oak, however.


fiddleback red oak where the curl DOES run all the way across the wood


listed as pomelle veneer; I'm dubious about the color


spalted plank and closeup --- I'm not at all confident of the heavy orangish color


spalted plank


stabilized water oak burl turning stock / scales --- there are at least a dozen Quercus species that use the name water oak (among others), the main one of which is Quercus aquatica (the name literally mean "water oak") and I have no idea which of them this is. Most (possibly all) of the species are in the red oak group which is why these pics are here on the red oak page.


both sides of a set of stabilized water oak burl turning stock / scales





willow oak table top (willow oak is in the red oak group)


red oak bowls


bender oak bowls turned and photographed by Tom Pleatman, whom I thank for these pics and other contributions to the site. Big enlargements are present. Bender oak, Quercus x benderi, is a hybrid of Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak) and Quercus rubra (red oak).


hollow form --- both enlargements are present. This is, to me, a terrific turning and I love the way it shows the pores and rays of the red oak.


small stool I made from red oak and an aquarium stand that I helped a friend make. The finish is polyurethane on both.