In Wood

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Scientific Name: Quercus rubra

Other Common Names: Northern Red Oak

Growing Regions: Canada and the United States.

Size Characteristics: Grows to 70 feet tall, with a trunk up to 39 inches in diameter.

Characteristics of Wood: The sapwood is almost pure white while the heartwood is usually a red-tinged brown. Once the tree has been sawn into lumber, it’s nearly impossible to tell exactly which species of red oak it is. The wood is fairly straight-grained and hard.

Workability: Red oak is extremely versatile and a pleasure to work. The grain and hardness makes it easy to plane and sand. It bends well, though sometimes less so if it’s been kiln-dried. Once wood is dried is it resistant to crushing, so pilot holes might be needed for nails and screws. Not a good choice for high-moisture environments.

Common Uses: Red oak is common in furniture, cabinetmaking, trim, flooring, and veneer.

Availability: Red oak is widely available, though Southern Red Oak is more common in parts of the country.

Wood Movement: It is a fairly stable wood, with minimum movement and shrinkage.

Finish Characteristics: Red oak has an open grain that takes stains and pigments well. Polyurethanes, varnishes, and shellacs may require extra work if you want a perfectly smooth finish

Special Features: Northern red oak is most likely the most commonly used hardwood in the United States.

End grain

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