Wood Species - Red Oak
Color: Heartwood and sapwood are similar, with sapwood lighter in color;
most pieces have a reddish tone. Slightly redder than white oak.
Grain: Open, slightly coarser (more porous) than white oak. Plainsawn
boards have a plumed or flared grain appearance; riftsawn has a tighter grain
pattern, low figuring; quartersawn has a flake pattern, sometimes called tiger
rays or butterflies.
Variations within species and grades: More than 200 subspecies in North
America; great variation in color and grain, depending on the origin of the
wood and corresponding differences in growing seasons. Northern, Southern and
Appalachian red oak can all be divided into upland and lowland species. Because
they grow more slowly, upland species generally have a more uniform grain pattern
than lowland species, with more growth rings per inch.
Hardness (Janka): Northern 1290 (benchmark).
Dimensional Stability: Average (change coefficient .00369).
Durability: Stiff and dense; resists wear, with high shock resistance,
though less durable than white oak.
Sawing/Machining: Above average in all machining operations except shaping.
Sanding: Sands satisfactorily, better than white oak.
Nailing: Good resistance to splitting; excellent holding ability.
Finishing: Strong stain contrast because of large pores.
Comments: Red oak generally works better than white for bleached floors,
because it is more porous and accepts bleach better, and because tannins in
white oak can discolor floor.
From The National Wood Flooring
Association's "Wood Species Used in Wood Flooring" information booklet.
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