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Northern Red Oak

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Wood identification

Wood identification

The broad, spreading crown of the northern red oak (Quercus rubra) shades the landscape in a sweeping range that covers nearly half the U.S. and much of southeastern Canada, as shown on the map. More commonly called red oak, but also known as eastern red oak, gray oak, and Canadian red oak, the tree can grow to 150' heights with trunks 6' in diameter in fertile upland forest soil. Open grown trees more often approach only 70', with trunks that separate into several large branches. Northern red oak has distinctive leaves up to 9" long, with a pointed bristle on each lobe tip. In the spring, flowing catkins of pollen-bearing flowers emerge amid the greenery. Acorns about 1" long develop every two years. Rare is the board of northern red oak that carries a trace of its light-colored sapwood. Instead, the vast majority of northern red oak treats woodworkers to nicely figured heartwood with a pinkish tint. You'll find that northern red oak has coarse-textured, straight, open grain. This hard, stiff, strong wood weighs 44 pounds per cubic foot dry-just a little more than walnut.

Continued on page 3:  Uses in woodworking


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