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White Oak

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Wood identification

Wood identification

Although you can find dozens of species of white oak growing nearly everywhere in the U.S., the grandest of them all is Quercus alba. Called stave oak and fork-leaf white oak, the tree can grow to ponderous size within its range. Trees more than 8' in diameter and over 150' tall have been recorded. Usually, the trees fall between a 3-4' diameter and an 80-100' height. You can easily identity white oak by its round-lobed leaves (red-oak leaves have sharply pointed lobes). In the absence of leaves, check for white oak's tell-tale light, ash-gray bark with its scaly plates. Or, look for acorns. Those of the white oak have a shallow cap with an inside that's satiny smooth. The red-oak acorn cap is hairy inside. The wood of white oak isn't white as the name implies. It's tan. And unlike the end grain of red oak, which displays large open pores, that of white oak shows a tightly closed formation. Weighing about 47 lbs. per cubic foot dry, white oak features a straight, coarse grain that when sawed on the quarter often produces a rippled figure.

Continued on page 3:  Uses in woodworking


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