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View Full Version : White Oak, and then there's white oak



chuckt
04-26-2013, 06:47 PM
I purchased some white oak locally and, when I compared it to what I got from New England, it looks like junk. Much wider growth rings. My guess this local stuff grew in conditions where it could grow fast? Is there a regional difference or do I just need to find oak from logs that grew more slowly, in other words, from an older thicker forest.

http://i571.photobucket.com/albums/ss151/cmeke0870/Concordia/F1C584BC-03B8-4B09-A299-25782FBA8F38-869-00000058D02F87BE_zps86b5678b.jpg

Thorne
04-26-2013, 06:55 PM
What's the old saying, "The oak gets whiter the further it is from the tree"? I was surprised to find out here that there are many subspecies / flavors of white oak, some better for boatbuilding than others. Add to that the variations in climate, age and growing conditions, and you get a real mix of possible building materials.

chuckt
04-26-2013, 07:24 PM
The stuff on top is from New England. (Although you are looking at a scrap piece, it does show the nice grain inside the sapwood). The local stuff is on the bottom. I think I will not use it.

Thorne
04-26-2013, 09:34 PM
Some good threads on this topic -

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?111799-White-Oak-Live-Oak

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?86490-Quercus-douglasii-as-a-boatbuilding-wood

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?93605-Vally-Oak-for-frames

http://forum.woodenboat.com/showthread.php?66076-Anyone-purchased-bending-oak-recently

Ron Williamson
04-27-2013, 05:08 AM
Fast grown ring-porous hardwoods like oak and ash should be denser, therefore stronger and harder to split, than slower grown material.
The bubbly bits are much weaker than the solid parts.
R

chuckt
04-27-2013, 07:17 AM
Info overload. Frick. I have no idea if this stuff is any good or not.

Mrleft8
04-27-2013, 08:03 AM
Fast grown ring-porous hardwoods like oak and ash should be denser, therefore stronger and harder to split, than slower grown material.
The bubbly bits are much weaker than the solid parts.
R
Exactly backwards.
You have two different varieties of Oak there... Like comparing Apples to pears.
Norther White Oak (Quercus Alba) (Top) is a superior boat building wood.
The bottom piece looks more like Laurel, or Water Oak (Quercus Laurelfolia, or Quercus Nigra) Both of which are OK boat building woods.

Mrleft8
04-27-2013, 08:11 AM
.... And actually Chuck..... Looking closer at that bottom piece...... I don't think that's in the White Oak family at all..... The early wood seems to have open pores... Take a 2" off cut and stand it end grain up/down in a shallow plate of water. If the water wicks up to the top through the pores it's a Red Oak, if it doesn't it's a White Oak... (Generally... There are exceptions)

Eddiebou
04-27-2013, 08:30 AM
It looks to like what you have there are 2 pieces of wood from trees that sat around for a long time before they were milled. I can tell you that it's very hard to just look at a piece of oak and tell what it is. I know because I've cut and milled my own lumber from red and white oak trees. Sometimes one will look like the other. You can make an educated guess by the length of the medulary rays but color has nothing to do with it. The sapwood a is different color depending on how wet/dry it is. The medulary rings might or might not be visible on the suface due to grain orientation. There are so many variables. The bark is the best way to tell, but you don't want to dry lumber with the bark on it. Now, when I cut a tree for lumber I paint the ends white if it's white oak, and red if it's red oak. I've never worked with Live oak, Chestnut oak, Blackjack oak, Scarlet oak, Burr oak, Jamestown Oak, English oak, etc., but I have worked with Alba and Rubra. When they're mixed together, it's dang near impossible to say for SURE which is which.

Mrleft8
04-27-2013, 02:03 PM
It looks to like what you have there are 2 pieces of wood from trees that sat around for a long time before they were milled. I can tell you that it's very hard to just look at a piece of oak and tell what it is. I know because I've cut and milled my own lumber from red and white oak trees. Sometimes one will look like the other. You can make an educated guess by the length of the medulary rays but color has nothing to do with it. The sapwood a is different color depending on how wet/dry it is. The medulary rings might or might not be visible on the suface due to grain orientation. There are so many variables. The bark is the best way to tell, but you don't want to dry lumber with the bark on it. Now, when I cut a tree for lumber I paint the ends white if it's white oak, and red if it's red oak. I've never worked with Live oak, Chestnut oak, Blackjack oak, Scarlet oak, Burr oak, Jamestown Oak, English oak, etc., but I have worked with Alba and Rubra. When they're mixed together, it's dang near impossible to say for SURE which is which.
I made a rocking chair back in 1981 that was supposed to be Red Oak.... Back then I took lumber yard's word for what was what.
The rear legs and rockers turned out to be White Oak, The rest of the chair was Red Oak. I could tell there was a difference when I was shaping the pieces, but I didn't know why. Now I can tell the difference across a room if it hasn't been stained and coated in plastic finish..... It's just like anything.... You pick up on subtle things that you don't even know that you're noticing.

Ron Williamson
04-27-2013, 08:39 PM
Exactly backwards.
You have two different varieties of Oak there... Like comparing Apples to pears.
Norther White Oak (Quercus Alba) (Top) is a superior boat building wood.
The bottom piece looks more like Laurel, or Water Oak (Quercus Laurelfolia, or Quercus Nigra) Both of which are OK boat building woods.


Wiki says different,and everyone knows they aren't allowed to lie on the internet.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wood#Earlywood_and_latewood_in_ring-porous_woods

R

wizbang 13
04-27-2013, 08:58 PM
i wish I could get oak here , it burns hotter than fir.
you know i feel that way about oak Chuck,I just could not hold my breath any longer.

Cogeniac
04-27-2013, 10:01 PM
The top piece looks exactly like the white oak I got locally at Macbeath's and also the green white oak I got from Edensaw. THe bottom piece looks very odd.

S

chuckt
04-28-2013, 06:40 AM
Lefty--the top piece is definitely not red oak. It doesn't wick nor can you blow air through the grain. It came form New England Naval Timbers. It may have looked funny because I wiped mineral spirits on it so the grain would show up better in the pic.

I don't know what I bought but, since it looks like crap, I am not putting it in my boat.

I knew Bruce would not be able to resist comment . :) I like WO. It bends so nicely. And this stuff is like friggin iron.

Now I gotta come up with some use for this junk I find somebody that has some decent WO.

chuckt
04-28-2013, 06:49 AM
Heres a better shot with the end cut off. Looks better but still widely spaced rings. I like the denser stuff.

http://i571.photobucket.com/albums/ss151/cmeke0870/Concordia/20785538-5332-4920-A2DC-EAD0C1E662C3-869-00000077773987A4_zps612af4b4.jpg

Mrleft8
04-28-2013, 08:14 AM
Perhaps I had marbles in my mouth.... The top one is definitely Quercus Alba.
The bottom one may be Live Oak. Now that I see the dark "marbling" in the grain which is common in Live Oak, and you say it's like iron..... There's a reason that the USS Constitution is called "Old Ironsides".

chuckt
04-28-2013, 11:02 AM
I had it in my brain that live oak was good stuff. Hmm. Maybe I can use it somewhere that is easy to keep an eye on it.

Boston
04-28-2013, 12:34 PM
Exactly backwards.
You have two different varieties of Oak there... Like comparing Apples to pears.
Norther White Oak (Quercus Alba) (Top) is a superior boat building wood.
The bottom piece looks more like Laurel, or Water Oak (Quercus Laurelfolia, or Quercus Nigra) Both of which are OK boat building woods.

agreed, I use white oak ( alba ) more than anything else in my shop. you want it from somewhere cold where it grows slower for exactly the reasons you specified. Swamp oak, on the other hand isn't nearly as good. Your mill should be able to tell you exactly what it is, and you can always bring it a sample to the university and they'll jump at the chance to identify it.

That lower piece, its not white oak. At least not alba.

cheers
B

Tangusso
04-29-2013, 10:22 AM
Not sure where you are located, but I know an excellent sawyer here in New Hampshire that provides white oak at very reasonable prices. I have purchased several logs and had him saw them into slabs with the correct grain orientation for use as frames (ribs). The wood here is very consistent and has little sap wood. I would be happy to provide contact info if it would be helpful.

chuckt
04-29-2013, 06:54 PM
That would be great Tangusso. Thanks

SMARTINSEN
04-29-2013, 07:07 PM
I had it in my brain that live oak was good stuff. Hmm. Maybe I can use it somewhere that is easy to keep an eye on it.

Live oak is within the white oak group, historically used for frames, stems, knees, and other curved pieces on boats, because that is the way that it grows.

http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/mrri/acechar/specgal/image/photos/liveoak2.jpg

Photo from the South Carolina Department of Natural Rescources (http://www.dnr.sc.gov/marine/mrri/acechar/specgal/lioak.htm)

Michael D. Storey
04-29-2013, 08:31 PM
.... And actually Chuck..... Looking closer at that bottom piece...... I don't think that's in the White Oak family at all..... The early wood seems to have open pores... Take a 2" off cut and stand it end grain up/down in a shallow plate of water. If the water wicks up to the top through the pores it's a Red Oak, if it doesn't it's a White Oak... (Generally... There are exceptions)

Also my feelings. Those tiny holes in rows; I have been able to blow smoke through them, back when I smoked a pipe and worked on large land vehicles.

Tangusso
04-30-2013, 11:58 AM
That would be great Tangusso. Thanks

I suggest contacting Peter Drouin in Sanbornton, NH. The material he deals in is very high quality and he is aware of many of the specific requirements for boatbuilding. You can find his website here:

http://www.forestryforum.com/sanbornton/index.htm

His email and phone are on the site. I'm sure he can ship material to you within a specific size range. If you need to pick the material up yourself let me know...I live close by and am always looking for an audience to show my project to.

alkorn
04-30-2013, 05:37 PM
I live in the mountains of western Virginia (altitude about 2500') and a good part of the larger trees here are white oak. The oldest ones seem to have started growing about 1920, which fits in with the land being clear-cut after the chestnut blight came through. I cut dead trees for firewood: they have close-spaced rings and are very hard. They are also very rot resistant - after 20 years lying on the forest floor, the heartwood of a fallen white oak log is mostly intact.

hokiefan
04-30-2013, 07:55 PM
I live in the mountains of western Virginia (altitude about 2500') and a good part of the larger trees here are white oak. The oldest ones seem to have started growing about 1920, which fits in with the land being clear-cut after the chestnut blight came through. I cut dead trees for firewood: they have close-spaced rings and are very hard. They are also very rot resistant - after 20 years lying on the forest floor, the heartwood of a fallen white oak log is mostly intact.

You my friend, live in God's Country. Y:o

Cheers,

Bobby