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Oak

Worldwide, the oaks (Quercus spp.) consist of 275 to 500 species that can be separated into three groups based on their microanatomy: the live or evergreen oak group, the red oak group (Erythrobalanus), and the white oak group (Leucobalanus). Species within each group look alike microscopically. The word quercus is the classical Latin name of oaks, said to be derived from Celtic fine and tree.

The commercial North American species are as follows:

Red Oak Group (Erythrobalanus)

  • Quercus coccinea-bastard oak, black oak, buck oak, red oak, scarlet oak, Spanish oak, spotted oak
  • Quercus falcata-American red oak, bottomland red oak, cherrybark oak, Elliott oak, red oak, Spanish oak, southern red oak, swamp red oak, swamp spanish oak, turkeyfoot oak, water oak
  • Quercus kelloggii-black oak, California black oak, Kellogg oak, mountain black oak
  • Quercus laurifolia-Darlington oak, diamond-leaf oak, laurel oak, laurel-leaf oak, swamp laurel oak, water oak, obtusa oak
  • Quercus nigra-American red oak, blackjack, pin oak, possum oak, punk oak, red oak, spotted oak, water oak
  • Quercus nuttallii-nuttall oak, pin oak, red oak, red river oak, striped oak
  • Quercus palustris-pin oak, red oak, Spanish oak, Spanish swamp oak, Spanish water oak, swamp oak, swamp Spanish oak, water oak
  • Quercus phellos-black oak, laurel oak, peach oak, pin oak, red oak, swamp willow oak, water oak, willow oak, willow swamp oak
  • Quercus rubra-American red oak, black oak, buck oak, Canadian red oak, common red oak, gray oak, eastern red oak, leopard oak, Maine red oak, mountain red oak, northern red oak, red oak, Spanish oak, spotted oak, southern red oak, swamp red oak, water oak, West Virginia soft red oak
  • Quercus shumardii-American red oak, Schneck oak, Schneck red oak, shumard oak, Shumard red oak, southern red oak, spotted bark, spotted oak, swamp red oak, Texas oak, Texas red oak
  • Quercus velutina-American red oak, blackjack, black oak, dyer oak, jack oak, quercitron, quercitron oak, redbush, red oak, smoothbark oak, spotted oak, tanbark oak, yellowbark, yellow oak, yellowbark oak

White Oak Group (Leucobalanus)

  • Quercus alba-American white oak, Arizona oak, Arizona white oak, forked-leaf white oak, Louisiana white oak, mantua oak, ridge white oak, stave oak, true white oak, West Virginia soft white oak, white oak
  • Quercus bicolor-blue oak, cherry oak, curly swamp oak, swamp oak, swamp white oak, white oak
  • Quercus garryana-Brewer oak, Garry oak, Oregon oak, Oregon white oak, Pacific post oak, Pacific white oak, post oak, prairie oak, shin oak, western oak, western white oak, white oak
  • Quercus lyrata-American white oak, overcup oak, swamp post oak, swamp white oak, water white oak
  • Quercus macrocarpa-blue oak, bur oak, burr oak, mossycup oak, mossy-overcup oak, overcup oak, scrub oak, white oak, white mossycup oak, white overcup oak
  • Quercus michauxii-American white oak, basket oak, cow oak, swamp oak, swamp chestnut oak
  • Quercus muehlenbergii-chestnut oak, chinkapin oak, chinquapin oak, dwarf chestnut oak, dwarf chinkapin, pin oak, rock oak, rock chestnut oak, running white oak, scrub oak, shrub oak, white oak, yellow oak, yellow chestnut oak
  • Quercus prinus-American white oak, basket oak, chestnut oak, chestnut rock oak, chestnut swamp oak, cow oak, mountain oak, rock oak, rock chestnut, rock chestnut oak, swamp oak, tanbark oak, white oak, white chestnut oak
  • Quercus stellata-American post oak, barren white oak, bastard oak, bastard white oak, box oak, box white oak, brash oak, Delta post oak, Durand oak, iron oak, pin oak post oak, ridge oak, rough oak, rough white oak, southern oak, turkey oak, white box oak, white oak

Live Oak Group

  • Quercus virginiana-dwarf live oak, encino, live oak, rolfs oak, scrub live oak,
    Virginia live oak, Virginia oak

Distribution
Widely distributed throughout the United States.

The Tree
Oaks can reach a height of 125 ft (38 m), with large diameters.

The Wood

General
The sapwood of oak is white to very light brown, while the heartwood is light to dark brown in the white oak group and reddish brown in the red oak group. Oak wood has a course texture; it is heavy, straight-grained, hard, tough, very stiff, and strong. Fast-grown oak, with wide rings, is stronger and heavier than slow-grown oak.

Mechanical Properties (2-inch standard)

Compression
Specific

gravity

MOE

X106 lbf/in2

MOR

lbf/in2

Parallel

lbf/in2

Perpendicular

lbf/in2

WMLa

in-lbf/in3

Hardness

lbf

Shear

lbf/in2

Red Oak Group
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Green 0.60 1.48 10,400 4,090 830 15.0 1,200 1,410
Dry 0.67 1.91 17,400 8,330 1,120 20.5 1,400 1,890
Quercus falcata (southern red oak)
Green 0.71 1.14 6,900 3,030 550 8.0 860 930
Dry 0.52 1.49 10,900 6,090 870 9.4 1,060 1,390
Quercus falcata var. pagodifolia (cherrybark oak)
Green 0.61 1.79 10,800 4,620 760 14.7 1,240 1,320
Dry 0.68 2.28 18,100 8,740 1,250 18.3 1,480 2,000
Quercus laurifolia (laurel oak)
Green 0.56 1.39 7,900 3,170 570 11.2 1,000 1,180
Dry 0.63 1.69 12,600 6,980 1,060 11.8 1,210 1,830
Quercus nigra (water oak)
Green 0.56 1.55 8,900 3,740 620 11.1 1,010 1,180
Dry 0.63 2.02 15,400 6,770 1,020 11.8 1,210 2,020
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Green 0.58 1.32 8,300 3,680 720 14.0 1,070 1,290
Dry 0.63 1.73 14,000 6,820 1,020 14,800 1,510 2,080
Quercus phellos (willow oak)
Green 0.56 1.29 7,400 3,000 610 8.8 980 1,180
Dry 0.69 1.90 14,500 7,040 1,130 14.6 1,460 1,650
Quercus rubra (northern red oak)
Green 0.56 1.35 8,300 3,440 610 13.2 1,000 1,210
Dry 0.63 1.82 14,300 6,760 1,010 14.5 1,290 1,780
Quercus velutina ( black oak)
Green 0.56 1.18 8,200 3,470 710 12.2 1,060 1,200
Dry 0.61 1.64 13,900 6,520 930 13.7 1,210 1,910

Mechanical Properties-continued

Compression
Specific

Gravity

MOE

X106 lbf/in2

MOR

lbf/in2

Parallel

lbf/in2

Perpendicular

lbf/in2

WMLa

in-lbf/in3

Hardness

lbf

Shear

lbf/in2

White Oak Group
Quercus alba (white oak)
Green 0.60 1.25 8,300 3,560 670 11.6 1,060 1,250
Dry 0.68 1.78 15,200 7,440 1,070 13.7 1,210 1,910
Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)
Green 0.64 1.59 9,900 4,360 760 14.5 1,160 1,300
Dry 0.72 2.05 17,700 8,600 1,190 14.8 1,360 2,000
Quercus garryana (Oregon white oak)
Green 0.64 - - - - - - -
Dry 0.72 - - - - - - -
Quercus lyrata (overcup oak)
Green 0.57 1.15 8,000 3,370 540 12.6 960 1,320
Dry 0.63 1.42 12,600 6,200 810 15.7 1,190 2,000
Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)
Green 0.58 0.88 7,200 3,290 680 10.7 1,110 1,350
Dry 0.64 1.03 10,300 6,060 1,200 9.8 1,370 1,820
Quercus michauxii (swamp chestnut oak)
Green 0.60 1.35 8,500 3,540 570 12.8 1,110 1,260
Dry 0.67 1.77 13,900 7,270 1,110 12.0 1,240 1,990
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Green 0.57 1.37 8,000 3,520 530 9.4 890 1,210
Dry 0.66 1.59 13,300 6,830 840 11.0 1,130 1,490
Quercus stellata (post oak)
Green 0.60 1.09 8,100 3,480 860 11.0 1,130 1,280
Dry 0.67 1.51 13,200 6,600 1,430 13.2 1,360 1,840
Live Oak Group
Quercus virginiana ( live oak)
Green 0.80 1.58 11,900 5,430 2,040 12.3 - 2,210
Dry 0.88 1.98 18,400 8,900 2,840 18.9 - 2,660
aWML = Work to maximum load.
Reference (59, 98).

Drying and Shrinkage

Type of shrinkage Percentage of shrinkage
(green to final moisture content)
0% MC 6% MC 20% MC
Red Oak Group
Quercus coccinea (scarlet oak)
Tangential 10.8 7.8 3.2
Radial 4.4 3.7 1.5
Volumetric 14.7 11.0 4.6
Quercus falcata (southern red oak)
Tangential 11.3 - -
Radial 4.7 - -
Volumetric 16.1 - -
Quercus falcata var. pagodifolia (cherrybark oak)
Tangential 10.6 - -
Radial 5.5 - -
Volumetric 16.1 - -
Quercus laurifolia (laurel oak)
Tangential 9.9 - -
Radial 4.0 - -
Volumetric 19.0 - -
Quercus nigra (water oak)
Tangential 9.8 7.4 3.1
Radial 4.4 3.4 1.4
Volumetric 16.1 13.1 5.5
Quercus palustris (pin oak)
Tangential 9.5 7.6 3.2
Radial 4.3 3.4 1.4
Volumetric 14.5 11.6 4.8
Quercus phellos (willow oak)
Tangential 9.6 - -
Radial 5.0 - -
Volumetric 18.9 - -
Quercus rubra (northern red oak)
Tangential 8.6 6.6 2.7
Radial 4.0 3.2 1.3
Volumetric 13.7 10.8 4.7
Quercus velutina ( black oak)
Tangential 11.1 7.8 3.2
Radial 4.4 3.6 1.5
Volumetric 15.1 11.4 4.7

Drying and Shrinkage-continued

Type of shrinkage Percentage of shrinkage
(green to final moisture content)
0% MC 6% MC 20% MC
White Oak Group
Quercus alba (white oak)
Tangential 10.5 7.2 3.0
Radial 5.6 4.2 1.8
Volumetric 16.3 12.6 5.3
Quercus bicolor (swamp white oak)
Tangential - - -
Radial - - -
Volumetric - - -
Quercus garryana (Oregon white oak)
Tangential - - -
Radial - - -
Volumetric - - -
Quercus lyrata (overcup oak)
Tangential 12.7 - -
Radial 5.3 - -
Volumetric 16.0 - -
Quercus macrocarpa (bur oak)
Tangential 8.8 7.0 2.9
Radial 4.4 3.5 1.5
Volumetric 12.7 10.2 4.2
Quercus michauxii (swamp chestnut oak)
Tangential 10.8 8.6 3.6
Radial 5.2 4.2 1.7
Volumetric 16.4 13.1 5.5
Quercus prinus (chestnut oak)
Tangential 10.8 7.8 3.2
Radial 5.3 4.4 1.8
Volumetric 16.4 13.4 5.6
Quercus stellata (post oak)
Tangential 9.8 7.8 3.3
Radial 5.4 4.3 1.8
Volumetric 16.2 13.0 5.4
Live Oak Group
Quercus virginiana ( live oak)
Tangential 9.5 7.6 3.2
Radial 6.6 5.3 2.2
Volumetric 14.7 13.0 5.4
References: 0% MC (98),
6% and 20% MC (90).

Kiln Drying Schedulesa

Stock
Condition 4/4, 5/4, 6/4 8/4 10/4 12/4 16/4
Western oaksb
Standard T3-B1 T3-B1 - - -
Upland red oaksc
Standard T4-D2 T3-D1 T3-C1 T3-C1
Lowland red oaksd
Standard T2-C1 Table 113 - - -
Upland white oakse
Standard T4-C2 T3-C1 T3-B1 T3-B1 -
Lowland white oaksf
Standard T2-C1 Table 113 - - -
aReferences (6, 86).
b California black, Oregon white, canyon live.
cBlack, blackjack, cherrybark, northern pin, northern red, scarlet, Schumard,
southern red, turkey, water.

dCherrybark, laurel, nuttall, pin, Shumard, water, willow.
eBlue, bur, chestnut, chinkapin, Emory, Gambel, Mexican blue, post, white.
fBur, live, overcup, swamp chestnut, swamp white, white.

Working Properties: Oak wood has good working properties. It machines and glues well and holds fasteners extremely well. It tends to split when nailed, unless predrilled. Oak finishes well, but shrinks considerably.

Durability: The oaks are rated with respect to resistance to heartwood decay as follows (98):

  • Very resistant--bur oak, chestnut oak, Gambel oak, Oregon oak, post oak and white oak
  • Moderately resistant--swamp chestnut oak
  • Slightly to nonresistant--black oak and red oak

Preservation: The heartwood of the white oak group is resistant to impregnation with preservatives, whereas that of the red oak group is more easily penetrated.

Uses: Ships, railroad crossties, timber bridges, tannin dyes, fuel wood, hardwood dimensions and flooring, furniture, veneer, plywood, barrels, kegs and casks (white oak group), truck and trailer beds, mining timbers, containers, pallets, caskets, boxes, paneling.

Toxicity: May cause allergic bronchial asthma, rhinitis, and dermatitis (40, 64, 105).

Source: US Forest Service


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