Oak Wood Properties | Types of Oak, Uses, Pros, and Cons

Oak Wood Properties

Oak is a tree or shrub in the genus Quercus of the beech family. It is Grows in the Northern Hemisphere. There are more than 500 species of oak. The most common oak tree varieties are White Oak, Black Oak, red oak, Willow oak, and many. Some of these are deciduous oak and some are evergreen. 

The properties of some of these species are similar to each other while some are different from each other. Oak Wood is well known for being strong, hard, heavy, and dense with close grains. Therefore it is a good choice to make furniture, cabinetry, and flooring. Some oak wood has great properties of workability, durability, water, and decay resistance.

The density of oak wood is about 0.75 g / cm3 (0.43 oz / cu in). Therefore Oak has great strength and hardness. oak wood is a versatile wood, it is used for many interior and exterior applications.

#Oak Properties
Scientific name:Quercus
Tree Size:40-45 meters
Janka Hardness:1,210 lbf (5,380 N) (Black Oak)
Workability:Great workability
Color: medium reddish-brown color (Black Oak)
Dried Weight:45 lbs / ft3 (715 kg / m3) (Black oak)
Oak Wood Properties

Oak Wood uses

  1. Commercial applications: Oak wood is very resistant to insect and fungal attacks, Because of its high tannin content. Therefore it is suitable for exterior applications such as fences, and siding. White oak is also widely used for the manufacture of outdoor furniture.
  2. Flooring: If you are looking for wooden flooring, then red oak(1,220 lbf (5,430 N)) and white oak(1,350 lbf (5,990 N)) can be the best option. Good Weight and high hardness reduce the risk of dents and scratches.
  3. Marine Application: White oak is highly durable and low maintenance wood. The grain is straight and close, with a coarse, uneven texture. Suitable for making boats and boat parts.
  4. Medicine: Northern red oak bark used for the treatment of diseases and wounds. While white oak is used in diarrhea, asthma, antiseptics, and hand washing. The oak bark has been used for many centuries as a medicine.
  5. Firewood: Not all oak is good firewood because they contain a lot of moisture(more than 20%) such as willow oak and others. White and Red oak trees are the best option for firewood. Both have 24 BTUs per cord value.
  6. Musical Drums: Japanese oak is known for the superior drum sound. Its higher density compared to traditional drum materials like maple and birch.
  7. Foods and homes: Oak also provides sanctuary and food for many small animals of the forest. Many animals depend on oak food. English oaks provide homes for many insects, which in turn provide a food source for birds. White oak and northern red oak provide food for mammals, squirrels, turkeys, and birds.

Types of Oak Trees

There are more than 500 species of oak. Some oaks species are famous because of their unique properties and some are rare.

All these species have their own properties and use. For example, some species of wood are considered better for firewood, flooring, and furniture. Some famous species of oak are as follows.

1. White Oak(Quercus Alba)

White oak is native to eastern and central North America and found in Minnesota. Its tree is about 65-85 ft (20-25 m) tall and 3-4 ft (1-1.2 m) trunk diameter. It has straight grains, with a coarse, uneven texture. It is used for flooring, boatbuilding, barrels, and veneer.

The leaves of the White oak are funnel-shaped. It gives acorns once a year, which is about 2 cm (0.8 in) long.

2. Red Oak (Quercus Rubra): 

Red oak is native to North America. Its tree is about 80–115 ft (25–35 m) tall and 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter. It has straight grains, with coarse, and large open pores. Being open pores, it is bad water resistance. It is used for furniture, interior trim, flooring.

Red oak leaves are deeply situated to lob. The bark is dark brown and deeply fissured and acorns have a length of about 1 inch.

3. Black Oak (Quercus Velutina)

Black oak is native to eastern and central North America. Its tree is about 65–80 ft (20–25 m) tall and its trunk diameter is 3–5 ft (1–1.5 m). It has medium-to-large pores and fairly coarse grain. Black oak is used for Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, and many applications. It has a light to medium reddish-brown color.

Leaves are alternate, simple, with 5–7 bristle-tipped lobes. They are 5–10 inches long, 3–8 inches wide.

4. Pin Oak (Quercus Palustris)

Pin Oak is also known as Swamp Spanish oak and is native to the Eastern United States. It is about 50–75 ft (15–23 m) tall, 2–4 ft (.6–1.2 m) trunk diameter. The grain is medium to large pores and fairly coarse.

Pin Oak is used for Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, and veneer. The leaves of Pin oak are deeply situated near the center axis. The leaves are 15 cm (5.9 in) long. The flower and leaf sprout together.

5. Water Oak (Quercus Nigra)

Water Oak is native to the eastern and south-central United States. Its tree is about 50-80 ft (15-24 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1 m) trunk diameter. It is medium-hard hardwood with a Janka hardness of 1,190 lbf (5,290 N). 

Due to the great durability, workability, and natural beauty. It is used for flooring and cabinetry. Leaves alternate, simple and deciduous, and 3–12 cm (1–5 in) long and 2–6 cm (1–2–2 in) wide.

6. Bur Oak (Quercus Macrocarpa)

Bur Oak is also called Burr Oak, Mossycup Oak is native to eastern North America. Quercus Macrocarpa has the largest acorn of any North American oak. Its tree grows to a height of 98 feet (30 m), rarely 160 feet (50 m). The leaves are 2 3⁄4–6 in (7–15 cm) long and 2–5 in (5–13 cm) broad.

Due to its great durability, it may be the best option for flooring, fence posts, cabinets, and barrels. The acorns of Bur oak can be eaten boiled and raw.

7. Willow Oak (Quercus Phellos)

Willow Oak Tree
The Willow Oak Tree

Willow oak is native to the eastern and central United States. It is found in moist places, around rivers, and in ponds. The growth of young willow requires a high amount of moisture and nutrition.

Its tree is 65–100 ft (20–30 m) tall, and the trunk diameter is 3–5 ft (1–1.5 m). The Willow oak tree is suitable for ornamental trees and wood for pulp and paper production. Being large open pores, it does not have water resistance. Janka Hardness of willow oak tree is 1,460 lbf (6,490 N). Read Willow Oak vs Pin Oak | Which Oak is Best For Firewood?

8. Spanish Oak (Quercus Falcata)

Spanish oak is native to the southeastern United States. The southern red oak is deciduous, so the leaves die each Autumn and later return to the season. Their trees are about 35–40 meters tall and tree trunks up to 1.5 meters (5 feet) in diameter. The leaves are 10–30 cm (4–12 in) long and 6–16 cm (2 1⁄4–6 1⁄4 in) wide.

Spanish Oak is used for making floors, furniture, and construction materials.

9. English Oak (Quercus Robur)

English oak is native to most of Europe west of the Caucasus. Its tree length is 80–120 ft (24–37 m) tall and wood hardness is 1,120 lbf (4,980 N). It is straight grain, sometimes it is irregular, it depends on their growing conditions.

The color of English oak heartwood is light to medium brown and sapwood is nearly white to light brown.  It is used to make flooring, boatbuilding, barrels, and veneer sheets.

10. Live Oak (Quercus Virginiana)

Live oak is native to the Southeastern United States. Its leaf is about 5 inches in length. The length of the live oak tree is 40–60 ft (12–18 m) tall, 4–6 ft (1.2–1.8 m) trunk diameter. The leaves of live oak are usually narrow to a long oval and are stiff.

It is famous for its great resistance to decay. Therefore it is the best option for making boats, barrels, and veneers.

11. Post Oak (Quercus Stellata)

The post oak is known as iron oak. It has a tree length of 10–15 m (33–49 ft) tall and a trunk 30–60 cm (12–24 in) in diameter, Which is shorter than other oak trees. It has medium-to-large pores and fairly coarse grain.

Its Janka hardness is 1,350 LBF (5,990 N), It is capable of growing on dry sites and is resistant to decay. Therefore it is used for making railroad ties, siding, planks, construction timbers, stair risers and treads, flooring, pulp, veneer, and particleboard.

12. Gambel Oak (Quercus Gambelii)

Gambel Oak is a deciduous small tree or large shrub. The length of a mature tree is 3–9 meters (10–30 ft) but sometimes it grows up to 18 meters (59 ft). Its leaves are usually 7–12 cm (3–4.5 in) long and 4–6 cm (1.5–2.5 in) wide.

The Gambel oak tree is a food source for squirrels, wild turkeys, black bears, and domestic animals such as hogs.

Oak Wood advantages and disadvantages

Oak Wood Advantages

  1. High Density: Oakwood has a density of about 0.75 g / cubic centimeter (0.43 oz / cu in), whereas pine wood has a density of about 0.43 g / cubic centimeter. High-density oak wood is made to be tough, fungal-resistant, and low maintained.
  2. The Durability: Oak is known for its durability. Long ago, oak was used for making shipbuilding. It was also very durable in water and moisture, later steel and other metals took their place.
  3. Great Workability: Generally Oak has straight-grained, So that it is easy to glue, and takes stain, and finishes very well. Easy to work with hand and machine tools.
  4. Availability: Oak is grown on a large scale. It is found almost all over Europe and Africa. Some species of oak grow very fast such as red oak and Nuttall oak. Their growth rate is 24 inches per year. Due to the good growth rate, its needs can be easily met.
  5. Good Water Resistant: Nothing made of wood is 100% waterproof, but some species of oak are good water-resistant. Which, even after exposure to water, remains durable for a long time. This is possible because of the closed grain of the oak or high density.
  6. Fire Resistance: The Coast Live Oak is a beautiful evergreen oak and native to California. It has good fire resistance properties.

Oak Wood Disadvantages

  1. Heavy Weight: Oak weighs more is more than other hardwood wood. Such as Black Oak (45 lbs / ft3 (715 kg / m3)), English Oak (42 lbs / ft3 (675 kg / m3)) and Red Oak (44 lbs / ft3 (700 kg / m3)). Due to being overweight, sometimes there is a problem in workability, and it is difficult to move if you want to reposition them.
  2. Dark over time: Oak changes its color over time, taking on more amber tones. So it can end up looking two-toned. Colors change when exposed to oxygen and UV light. This process happens very slowly. So sometimes it is difficult to find out the color difference.
  3. Tannic Acid: Another disadvantage of oak wood is that it contains tannic acid. Due to tannic, metals such as nails and screws may rust and the wood may discolor.

Oak as Firewood

Oak is hardwood and good for firewood. But all hardwood and oak wood is not a good choice for firewood. Red Oak and white oak is the best firewood wood because it produces high heat, burns clean and oak has great density. 

Good density wood has great coaling properties and produces high heat. Red and white oak is very famous in the United States as firewood.

There are some reasons for using oak as the best firewood

It is hardwood and has a higher BTU value. British thermal unit (Btu) is a measure of the heat content of fuels or energy sources.

Easy to split, Red oak has a straight grain that splits well. While white oak can be a bit difficult to spill. Splitting wood with more knotty can be a bit difficult. Even if it is from red oak or any other species. The oak must be dry to be well spilled. For firewood, it is better to use properly dried wood for 3 or 4 years. On burning moist wood, there are sounds, and bubbles of water come out of it.

Oak Wood For Smoking

Wood For Smoking

Oak is a versatile wood that is also popular for smoking. It is widely used for meat smoking. Oak is so popular because they lend a really rich, dark color to meats. Which looks better as well as taste. It has a mid-range flavor and Post Oak has a slightly sweet flavor, which is very liked in Texas bbq.

If you are smoking beef, lamb, pork, and poultry, red oak is the best hardwood to use. Being hardwood it has been smoldering for a long time. Water oak is also good for smoking meat that lasts as long as 24 hours or more.

How is oak wood made or manufactured?

Making wood from trees is a process. Which starts with the cutting of trees, also known as felling. Chain saws powered by gasoline are used for felling.

The second process is Debarking, which is the process of removing bark from wood. The removed bark of oak is used to make medicine.

The third process is cutting and trimming. In this process, large logs are cut into many parts as lumber and waste parts are removed from the wood log.

Drying Process, Lumber contains a sufficient amount of moisture. The drying process is done to remove moisture. So that the wood can be made usable without any wrapping problem.

After the wood is dried, the process of planning is started. In this process, the wood is passed through the planers. Which makes the wood surface smooth.

Grade stamping is the last process. Grading is done according to the quality of the wood and determines its price on the basis of grade. For example, wood with more knots is given a lower grade and wood with fewer knots is given A, AB grade. Like FAS (First and Second) is the highest grade of hardwood lumber.

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