White Oak has long been considered one of the preeminent hardwoods of Central & Eastern America. The trees commonly live for hundreds of years, if left undisturbed. The color of the heartwood can vary from a light golden tan to a light to medium brown. The grains are straight. Quartersawn examples often display the “fleck” figuring patterns for which oaks are known. Its renowned toughness and durability has seen White Oak used in boat building for centuries, as it also responds well to steam bending. Despite its large pores and generally coarse surface, the wood works, glues and holds a stain and/or a finish very well.
Sustainability: Not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, boatbuilding, wine barrels, interior & exterior utility wood, and veneer.
Comments: The White Oak is the most durable of the oak subgroups; however, because of its high shrinkage rates, it has a resultingly suspect dimensional stability. Although it is commonly offered in both flatsawn and quartersawn boards, best results are always obtained by quartersawing.
Specimens have been documented to reach ages of more 450 years old; while one, still living (in Basking Ridge, NJ), estimated to be over 600 years old.
It should be noted that all Quercus-genus (true oak) hardwoods have been known to discolor when left in contact with iron.