Northern Red Oak
As most woodworkers will attest, red oak works wonderfully, but it does require power tools. Even then, the wood sometimes takes special handling. Our observations:
- Feed red oak on the jointer so that the knives' rotation follows the direction of the grain flow (see sketch, below). Failure to do this generally produces chipping.
- Due to red oak's open, straight grain, it offers only moderate resistance to ripping.
- Red oak quickly dulls anything other than a carbide blade.
- Too fast a feed rate on the table or radial-arm saw, or with the router, can cause burning, although burns sand off easily.
- Red oak tends to splinter. o, use shallow router passes on end grain and a backing board clamped to the exit side on cross-grain work.
- Metal, such as a clamp bar, touching glue squeeze-out produces a dark blue stain. Lay wax paper over the glue line.
- Red oak grips screws, but even with pilot holes, lubricating the threads with paraffin eases driving.
- Although red oak sands readily, try garnet paper for hand-sanding and with orbital sanders. For belt sanders, we prefer oxide-type abrasives. Swirls and other sanding marks come off nearly effortlessly.
- For the smoothest possible finish, fill red oak's grain with a paste-type filler. The filled wood (see photo, top right) has less dramatic grain contrast, but it requires fewer coats to build the final finish. For a lighter fill, sand surfaces with Danish oil as a lubricant. The sanded-off fiber packs the grain.
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