White Oak is an outstanding domestic hardwood that is widely available and therefore quite affordable. It is a very strong wood that displays a very straight and consistent grain. This feature makes White Oak very versatile and easy to match when making wider panels, and as such, it is widely used in building furniture and cabinets.
The characteristic that has made White Oak famous is the presence of striking medullary rays (see below) that appear when the wood is quartersawn. Quartersawn White Oak is highly stable. In the early 1900s, White Oak was the standard species for the arts and crafts movement in furniture building.
Today, White Oak retains its popularity as a furniture wood, but its use has expanded to include many more applications. Its unique cellular structure makes the wood highly water resistant, and it is therefore used in great quantities for exterior applications from trim and general construction to furniture and garden structures. White Oak is also commonly used as a timber frame species in Japanese style architecture.
Essentially, White Oak is the perfect species for many applications, and the only drawback is the wood's relatively unremarkable appearance. However, it finishes beautifully and can take stain well, so this drawback is easily overcome.
This continuation of the Wood Species series is written by Shannon Rogers, a/k/a The Renaissance Woodworker and founder of The Hand Tool School. It has been provided courtesy of the J. Gibson McIlvain Lumber Company, where Rogers works as Director of Marketing.
Don't have an account? Join Now
Create a Core77 Account
Already have an account? Sign In
Please enter your email and we will send an email to reset your password.