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White Oak Lumber
White Oak

Botanical Name: Quercus
alba

Family: Fagaceae

Other Common Names: Arizona oak, Arizona white oak, Cucharillo, Encino, Encino negro, Mamecillo, Oak, Roble, Roble Amarillo, Roble Colorado, Roble Encino, Roblecito, White oak, Stave oak.

Uses: Furniture, cabinetwork, flooring, tight or “wet” barrel-making, keels, planking, bent parts in ships and boats, and sliced into veneer.

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White Oak

Distribution: The geographical distribution of the White oaks, which include White oak (Q. alba ), Chestnut oak (Q. prinus ), Chingkapin oak (Q. muehlenbergii ), Swamp chestnut oak (Q. michauxii ), Swamp white oak (Q. bicolor), Bur oak (Q. macrocarpa ), Post oak (Q. stellata ), California white oak (Q. lobata ), and Oregon white oak (Q. garryana ), in North America is reported to include Ontario, Quebec, Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. It is usually found in pure stands and prefers moist, well-drained upland and lowland areas.

General Characteristics: The mature tree usually attains a height of 80 to 100 feet (34 to 30 m) and a diameter of 36 to 48 inches (90 to 120 cm). The heartwood is variable in color, and ranges from light tan or pale yellow brown to pale or dark brown. The wood may also have a pinkish tinge. Variations in color and grain are reported to be considerable, but not as pronounced as in red oak. The sapwood is whitish to light brown in color, and is variable in width. The wood is medium to coarse textured; the grain is described as open, with rays that are longer than those in red oak. There are occasional crotches, swirls and burls, and plainsawn boards have plumed or flare-grained appearance. The grain pattern is tighter, and figuring is usually lower in riftsawn lumber. Quartersawn material often has a flake pattern which is sometimes referred to as tiger rays or butterflies. There is no distinctive odor or taste.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.68; air-dry density N/A.

Working Properties: The wood has moderate blunting effect on cutting tools. Cutting resistance is reported to be generally medium but is variable. Cross-cutting and narrow-bandsawing are reported to be satisfactory. Machining characteristics of white oak timbers are reported to vary with species and rate of growth. Softer timber from slow-growth trees are reported to be generally easier to work. Planing properties are rated as good, but a cutting angle of 20 degrees has been recommended. Turning qualities are reported to be very good. The timber is reported to be difficult to mould. The timber responds well to ordinary tools to produce clean, bored holes. Mortising qualities are reported to be very good. The wood has satisfactory gluing qualities. Pre-boring is recommended in nailing operations, since the wood is hard. Screwing qualities are reported to be good. The material is reported to respond well to sanding operations. Reaction between tannins and liquid from some products, especially those with high water content such as bleach and water-based finishes, may turn the wood green or brown. White oak timbers are reported to have exceptional steam bending qualities, and defect free material is reported to bend to very small radius of curvature. Proper precautions should be taken to prevent chemical staining of steamed wood in contact with iron or steel.

Durability: Heartwood resistance to decay is reported to be high in white oaks. Logs are reported to be susceptible to severe attack by ambrosia beetles, and standing trees and logs are also readily attacked by forest longhorn or Butrespid beetles.

Preservation: White oak heartwood is reported to have exceptionally poor response to treatment with preservatives. Sapwood has moderate resistance to impregnation. High natural resistance to decay allows the heartwood to be used outdoors without chemical protection.

Mechanical Properties



Bending Strength:

Green: 8,300 psi
Dry: 15,200 psi



Modules of Elasticity:

Green: 880 @ 1,000 psi
Dry: 2,050 @ 1,000 psi



Maximum Crushing Strength:


Green: 3,560 psi
Dry: 7,440 psi



Drying and Shrinkage:


The wood is difficult to dry. It dries rather slowly and requires care. Drying defects that may occur in this species include end- and surface-checks, iron stains, ring failure, collapse, gray sapwood stain, and honeycomb. Kiln Schedule T4-C2 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T3-C1 for 8/4. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 6%; tangential 11%. Dimensional stability of seasoned timber is reported to be moderate, and the wood is reported to exhibit medium movement in use .



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