|Common Name(s): Red Oak
Scientific Name: Quercus rubra
Distribution: Northeastern United States and Southeastern Canada
Tree Size: 80-115 ft (25-35 m) tall, 3-6 ft (1-2 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 45 lbs/ft3 (725 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .56, .73
Janka Hardness: 1,290 lbf (5,700 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 14,300 lbf/in2 (98.6 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,820,000 lbf/in2 (12.50 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 6,760 lbf/in2 (46.6 MPa)
Shrinkage:Radial: 4.0%, Tangential: 8.6%, Volumetric: 13.7%, T/R Ratio: 2.2
Color/Appearance: Has a light to medium reddish-brown color, though there can be a fair amount of variation in color. Conversely, White Oak tends to be slightly more olive-colored, but is by no means a reliable method of determining the type of oak.
Grain/Texture: Has medium-to-large pores and a fairly coarse grain. The pores are so large and open that it is said that a person can blow into one end of the wood, and air will come out the other end: provided that the grain runs straight enough. (See the video below.)
Endgrain: Ring-porous; 2-4 rows of large, exclusively solitary earlywood pores, numerous small latewood pores in radial arrangement; tyloses absent; growth rings distinct; rays large and visible without lens; apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates (short lines between rays).
Workability: Produces good results with hand and machine tools. Responds well to steam-bending. Easy to glue, and takes stain and finishes very well.
Odor: Has a tell-tale smell that is common to most oaks. Most find it appealing.
Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, oak has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Slightly less expensive than White Oak, Red Oak is in good/sustainable supply and is moderately priced. Thicker 8/4 planks, or quartersawn boards are slightly more expensive per board foot.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, and veneer.
Comments: Red Oak, along with its brother White Oak, are commonly used domestic lumber species. Hard, strong, and moderately priced, Red Oak presents an exceptional value to woodworkers—which explains why it is so widely used in cabinet and furniture making.
- Black Oak (Quercus velutina)
- Bog Oak
- Brown Oak
- Bur Oak (Quercus macrocarpa)
- California Black Oak (Quercus kelloggii)
- Cherrybark Oak (Quercus pagoda)
- Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus)
- English Oak (Quercus robur)
- Holm Oak (Quercus ilex)
- Laurel Oak (Quercus laurifolia)
- Live Oak (Quercus virginiana)
- Oregon White Oak (Quercus garryana)
- Overcup Oak (Quercus lyrata)
- Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
- Post Oak (Quercus stellata)
- Scarlet Oak (Quercus coccinea)
- Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea)
- Southern Red Oak (Quercus falcata)
- Swamp Chestnut Oak (Quercus michauxii)
- Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)
- Turkey Oak (Quercus cerris)
- Water Oak (Quercus nigra)
- White Oak (Quercus alba)
- Willow Oak (Quercus phellos)
Scans/Pictures: You can see from the picture below that the color of Red Oak looks almost identical, though slightly darker, with sanding sealer applied. However, the grain and pores become much more pronounced if a pigment stain is used.