Common Name: Red Oak

Scientific Name: Quercusrubra

Origin: Southeast Canada and Northeast United States

Tree Size: 80-115 ft (25-35 m) tall, 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 44 lbs/ft3 (700 kg/m3)

 

Color & Appearance:

Red Oak heartwood is a light to medium brown, usually with a red tone. Sapwood is nearly white to light brown and is not always clearly distinguishable from the heartwood. Quartersawn sections should display prominent ray-fleck patterns. By comparison, White Oak is usually more olive-colored, but this is not a reliable way to determine the type of oak.

Grain & Texture:

Red Oak grain is straight, usually with a rough, uneven surface. The pores are very large and open. (It’s claimed that a person can blow in one end of the wood and air will come out the other end if the grain runs straight enough).

Endgrain:

Red Oak is ring-porous with 2-4 rows of large, completely solitary earlywood pores and many small latewood pores in a radial display. Tylosesis absent and growth rings are distinct. Rays are large and visible without a lens. The wood is apotracheal parenchyma diffuse in aggregates (with short lines between rays).

Rot Resistance:

Red Oak is rated as non-durable to perishable and has weak insect resistance. This wood stains when in contact with water (especially along porous growth ring areas). Red Oaks do not have the degree of decay and rot resistance that White Oaks have.

Workability:

Red Oak produces superior results with hand and machine tools but has somewhat high shrinkage values. This results in average dimensional stability, in particular with flatsawn boards. Red Oak can react with iron (especially when wet) and this can cause stains or discolorations. It responds well to steam-bending, glues, and stains, and it finishes nicely.

Odor:

Red Oak has a noticeable smell typical of most oaks. Many find it pleasing.

Red Oak has been claimed to be a sensitizer, but severe reactions are quite uncommon. Usually most reactions include simple eye and skin irritations or asthma-like symptoms.

Pricing & Availability:

Red Oak is widely available in a good range of widths and thicknesses, as flatsawn and as quartersawn lumber. Usually, it is somewhat less expensive than White Oak. Prices should be moderate for a domestic hardwood, but thicker planks or quartersawn boards will be slightly more costly.

Sustainability:

Red Oak is not listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species or in the CITES Appendices.

Common Uses:

Red Oak uses include: furniture, cabinetry, interior trim, veneers, and flooring.

Comments:

Red Oak is debatably the most popular hardwood in the United States. It is found in some form in most homes. Even many vinyl or imitation wood surfaces are printed to resemble Red Oak. This wood is hard, strong, and moderately priced. Red Oak offers exceptional value to woodworkers, which explains why it is so widely used in cabinet and furniture making.

Size 1-200 Bft 201-300 Bft 301-500 Bft 501+ Bft
4/4  4.70  3.70 2.95  2.60
5/4 5.35 4.35  3.60  3.10
6/4 5.65  4.65  3.90  3.40
8/4  5.85 4.85  4.10  3.60