Oak - one of the best hardwood in woodworking

Brief History of Oak

The Greeks and Romans used oak to construct their seagoing vessels because of its strength, toughness, and durability. The Saxons in England fattened their hogs with acorns, and ground the acorn for use as a seasoning. During this same period, landowners used the acorn as part of their daughters’ doweries.oak best hardwood in woodworking

In Europe, many great halls and castles were paneled with oak wain scoting and almost all furniture there was made of oak.

Today, the oak provide; food, tanbark for tanning leather, dyes, ink, even commercial cork.

Oak Wood Identification
Though there are 14 oak species of commercial importance grown in the U.S., they're marketed either as red oak (Quercus rubra) or white oak (Quercus alba).

Red oak has a pinkish red cast to it, large pores (you can blow smoke through one end of a piece of red oak and it will come out the other), and is quite hard.

White oak, on the other hand, is a tannish brown wood, has smaller pores, and is somewhat harder than red oak.

Woodworking Properties
Both red and white oak are moderately stable before and after working, and both work well with hand and power tools. Because white oak contains an abundance of tylosis (a membrane that seals cells), it is waterproof. Oak accepts finishes well. With built-up finishes, you may want to use a paste filler to fill the pores. This isn't necessary with oil finishes.

Uses in Woodworking
With these woods, the list goes on and on. You can use them for furniture, flooring, interior trim, paneling, turning, carving, and woodenware. White oak has two other important applications. It's highly prized as a material for making barrels and other watertight vessels, and it's one of the best woods for steam-bending wooden furniture parts.

Cost and Availability
One of the most commonly available of all woods, oak falls into the medium price category, with white oak somewhat higher than red. You can purchase oak in several different forms: lumber, plywood, interior trim, flooring, turning blanks, and veneer.

Source of Supply
Over 50 percent of the oak logged annually comes from the southern states. However, if you can get hold of some that's been grown in the Appalachians or the northern states (it's sold as northern oak), buy it. Because it grows more slowly than southern oak, it has a finer texture, more uniform color, and it works better.