Water Oak

Common Name: Water Oak
Scientific Name: Quercus nigra
Distribution: Eastern United States
Tree Size: 50-80 ft (15-24 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 45 lbs/ft3 (725 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .56, .73
Janka Hardness: 1,190 lbf (5,290 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 16,620 lbf/in2 (114.6 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 2,034,000 lbf/in2 (14.02 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 6,770 lbf/in2 (46.7 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.4%, Tangential: 9.8%, Volumetric: 16.1%, T/R Ratio: 2.2

water oak grain

water oak endgrain

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.

Rot Resistance: Red oaks such as Water Oak do not have the level of decay and rot resistance that White Oaks possess. Durability should be considered minimal.

Workability: 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, as well as asthma-like symptoms. 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: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, and veneer.

Common Uses: Crates, boxes, interior millwork, construction lumber, carving, and boatbuilding.

Comments: Water Oak falls into the red oak group, and shares many of the same traits as Red Oak (Quercus rubra). 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.

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