American white oak (Quercus spp.)

Other names: Northern white oak, Southern white oak

Distribution

Widespread throughout Eastern USA. The white oak group comprises many species, of which about eight are commercial.

General description

White oak is similar in color and appearance to European oak. The sapwood of American white oak is light colored and the heartwood is light to dark brown. White oak is mostly straight grained with a medium to coarse texture, with longer rays than red oak. White oak, therefore, has more figure.

Working properties

White oak machines well, nails and screws well although pre-boring is advised. As it reacts with iron, galvanized nails are recommended. Its adhesive properties are variable, but it stains and polishes to a good finish. The wood dries slowly and care is needed to avoid checking. Due to its high shrinkage, it can be susceptible to movement in performance.

A hard and heavy wood with medium bending and crushing strength, low in stiffness, but very good in steam bending. Southern white oak is faster grown with wide growth rings and tends to be harder and heavier.

Physical Properties

Lumber Packs

WHITE OAK FAS Rough

WHITE OAK FAS Rough

WHITE OAK 1C Rough

WHITE OAK 1C Rough

Durability

The heartwood is resistant to decay, extremely resistant to preservative treatment, and the sapwood is moderately resistant to treatment.

Availability

USA: Readily available but not as abundant as red oak.
Export: Very widely available in lumber and veneer, in a full range of qualities and specifications. The most important hardwood export.

Main uses

Construction, furniture, flooring, architectural joinery, exterior joinery, mouldings, doors, kitchen cabinets, paneling, railway sleepers, timber bridges, barrel staves, coffins, and caskets. White oak can vary in color, texture, characteristics, and properties according to the growing region. It is therefore recommended that users and specifiers work closely with their suppliers to make sure the wood they order is suited to their specific needs. Northern and Southern may be sold separately.

© 2002 American Hardwood Export Council