White oak

Common Name(s): White oak

Scientific Name: Quercus alba

Distribution: Eastern United States

Tree Size: 65-85 ft (20-25 m) tall,

                    3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 47 lbs/ft3 (755 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): 0.6, 0.75

Janka Hardness: 1,350 lbf (5,990 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 14,830 lbf/in2 (102.3 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,762,000 lbf/in2 (12.15 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 7,370 lbf/in2 (50.8 MPa)

Shrinkage: Radial: 5.6%, Tangential: 10.5%,

                          Volumetric: 16.3%, T/R Ratio: 1.9

Color/Appearance: Heartwood is a light to medium brown, commonly with an olive cast. Paler sapwood is not always sharply demarcated from the heartwood. Quartersawn sections display prominent ray fleck patterns (see images below). Red oak (Quercus rubra) tends to have a slightly redder cast (as opposed to olive), but color alone isn’t always a reliable method of determining the type of oak.

Grain/Texture: Grain is straight, with a coarse, uneven texture.

Rot Resistance: Rated as very durable; frequently used in boatbuilding and tight cooperage applications.

Workability: Produces good results with hand and machine tools. Has moderately high shrinkage values, resulting in mediocre dimensional stability, especially in flatsawn boards. Can react with iron (particularly when wet) and cause staining and discoloration. Responds well to steam-bending. Glues, stains, and finishes well.

Odor: Has a distinct smell while being worked that is common to most oaks. Most find it appealing.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, oak has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation, as well as asthma-like symptoms. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

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