Scientific Name: Quercus alba
Common Name: White Oak, Stave Oak
Janka Hardness: 1350
Tree: 80-100 ft tall, 3-4 ft trunk diameter
Distribution: Central and Eastern United States
Properties: Heartwood is a cream to tan color, often with an olive tinge. Sapwood is typically a very light to light brown, though it is not always very obviously different from the heartwood.. White Oak tends to be lighter than Red Oak, but this is not a reliable means of distinguishing them, as the color can have a light red hue. Obvious ray patterns and a course, uneven texture, with less obvious grain than Red Oak. Has a higher resistance to rot than Red Oak due to this difference in grain. Can stain in reaction to contact with iron, especially when wet.
Workability: Works well with both hand and machine tools, though it does have a dulling effect on cutting edges. Can splinter or tear, so care and patience should be taken when using a planer or jointer. Hold glue well and stains and finishes beautifully.
Common Uses: Due to its resistance to water as compared to Red Oak, White Oak is often used in boatbuilding and wine or whiskey barrels. It is also frequently used in furniture, cabinetry, flooring, paneling, interior trim moulding, musical instruments, and outdoor furniture.
Availability: Readily available due to its popularity and durability. It is moderately expensive for a domestic hardwood, usually more expensive than Red Oak.
Fun Fact: The Wye Oak of Talbot County in Maryland was the largest White Oak tree in the United State. It was believed to be over 460 years old and inspired Maryland to name the White Oak as its state tree. The tree fell during a severe thunderstorm in 2002, and a state park was created to dedicate the site. A clone of the tree was planted in the remains of the original in 2006 and the Maryland governor’s desk has a desk made from a section of the Wye Oak.
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