Wood of the Week – Red Oak

What is Red Oak

Red Oak is a hardwood that is native to North America – mainly Eastern and Central United States. It is fast growing and grows easily to 90 feet tall. With a lifespan of up to 500 years, though, these trees can grow up to 150 feet tall.

Red oak wood is nearly white to pale brown. The heartwood is usually darker than the sapwood, but it is not always easy to differentiate from the sapwood. Location of the tree’s growth determines some of the color characteristics. For example, the farther south a red oak tree is harvested, the redder it will be. 

red oak wood grain closeup

Red Oak has a course grain that has a straight and uneven texture. The grain is so open, that on a flat-sawn board, smoke can be blown into one end and will emerge from the other end. Red oak has a tendency to crack in the drying process, so it must be carefully treated before the drying process takes place. It is commonly used in construction, for furniture, and on the interior finish of homes.

Why choose red oak

Red Oak is the most important oak in timber production in the United States. It maintains a high value as lumber and veneer, but its abundance allows for a modestly priced hardwood.

red oak woodworking piece

Red oak is often used in flooring, veneer, trim, and furniture and one of the nicest woods to work with. Red oak has all the good properties any woodworker seeks in a hardwood and doesn’t usually warp or twist like other hardwoods. It is strong and durable and really makes for a beautiful end product.

Using Red Oak in Woodworking

Red oak is a versatile hardwood and the most popular hardwood in the United States. Depending on the cut of the wood, you can go from a classic, timeless look to a more contemporary look. It sands easy and stains very well and evenly. You won’t see blotching in stained red oak like you would in other hardwoods such as maple.

Red oak is easy to work with, machines well, and produces good results with hand tools as. Red oak is desired for its flat and straight grain and is more cost effective than white oak. Red oak grain is so deep that it must be taken into account if the desired finish is to be gloss or semi-gloss. Typically, we rub a grain filler into the wood prior to finishing in these instances. 

Contact us today about getting started on your own custom woodworking project with Red Oak, or view our gallery to get some inspiration.