What Are the Properties of Oak?

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Oak is durable, heavy and light colored. It has large pores and prominent rings that give it a prominent grain and course texture. Oak is also characterized by medullary rays which appear as “flakes” in quarter sawed oak lumber.

Oak hardwood has an open and fairly long identifiable grain. The appearance of its grain changes depending on the way the boards are sawed. Rift-sawed boards display a tighter grain patter, while plain-sawed boards show a plumed grain.

Red oak is hard and heavy, with high crushing strength and medium bending strength. It is an ideal wood for steam bending. This type of oak works well with tools and machines, and it is easy to stain and polish to a good finish. It is also moderately easy to treat with preservatives. However, it dries slowly, tends to split and warp and has a high shrinkage rate.

White oak is more durable than red oak, and it works well with nailing, sawing and sanding. It absorbs finishes better than red oak, and it is easy to polish. Its grain has longer rays than red oak, with occasional crotches, swirls and burls.

Oak is the most commonly used hardwood, and it is typically used for furniture, flooring, construction, ship building, tool handles, carpentry and joinery, railway sleepers and architectural interiors.