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규래 2014. 9. 13. 17:40

 

 

 

 


White OakWhite Oak (Quercus alba) is perhaps the most functional and useful of the American woods. The name "white" probably derives from its more golden to greyish color compared to the distinctive pinkish hue of "red" oak. The colors of both can sometimes be so close, especially in oxidized or aged furniture or floors,  that it can often be quite difficult to tell red from white oak.

Native to the Eastern half of the US, it is harder than red oak by about 5-10%, making it an excellent choice for flooring, furniture and all manner of molding. It's true value comes in the form of it's exterior utility. Unlike the open pores in red oak, white oak will seal its pores with tyloses as the wood converts from sapwood to heartwood. This makes the wood suitable for marine use and barrels. The presence of tannic acid keeps fungus and bugs away, giving it very good rot resistance. The reproduction Columbus ship was crafted of white oak.

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | white oak | flat cut grain lumber
White Oak, Flat Cut


 

 

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | white oak rift cut grain | straight grain
White Oak, Rift Cut

Rift cut lumber shows a straight linear appearance, without showing off the rays like true "quarter sawn" lumber

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | white oak | quarter sawn grain | straight grain | strong flake ray
White Oak, Quarter Sawn, Strong Flakes

"Quarter Sawn" lumber shows the vascular rays that are present in all woods. Some species show a large, elongated flake, while others have tiny, almost invisible ones. 

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | white oak red oak end grain pores
End Grain, White Oak (left) and Red Oak

This shows the end grain of Red and White oak. There is a passage in The Last of the Mohicans that describes some barrels being made of red oak and their contents leaking out. I think any barrel maker would be able to spot the difference fairly easily and not make that mistake. This is one simple way of determining whether an old floor or piece of furniture is red or white oak. The grain must be seen in the Heartwood, as the sapwood of white oak still has open pores.

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | white oak barrels
White Oak Barrels


 

 

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | white oak flooring | thin quarter sawn
White Oak Flooring, Quarter Sawn, 1940's and 1900's Prominent rays visible on end

"Quarter" sawing wood to produce "edge grain" makes the wood more stable, but just about doubles the price. The added stability allowed people 100 years ago to put thin Oak floors on top of Longleaf pine subfloors (plywood was much too expensive for construction use until about 1960). Many floors in San Antonio's Monte Vista historic district are actually quite thin. Some homeowners splurged for the thicker version (3/4" thick ) and some even then added an unnecessary longleaf pine subfloor (often at a diagonal to the room ) for added stability. There was no true "standard". Each house was tuned to the owner's taste and budget. (and desire to show off)

alamo hardwoods, san antonio | quarter sa wn white oak ammonia fumed flooring
Quarter and Rift Sawn White Oak Flooring, Fumed


 

 

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | white oak quarter sawn | fumed finish | sunset depot handrail
Quarter Sawn White Oak Handrail from Sunset Depot, 1905, showing fumed finish

Very commonly if someone had spent the extra money for quarter sawn lumber, they wanted everyone to know it. In the 1910's and 20s, White Oak furniture and millwork was more often than not exposed to industrial ammonia fumes to blacken the tyloses. This made the rays or flakes stand out against the rest of the wood. This technique was referred to as a "fumed" finish and  would only work with white oak as opposed to red oak or other woods.

 The "mission" and "craftsman" styles that were so popular at the time relied on simple, flat trim instead of heavily detailed or ornamented moldings. It was therefore very important that these surfaces showed attractive graining.

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | white oak handrail quarter sawn | longleaf pine core laminated
White Oak Handrail with Longleaf Pine Core

Even the 1905 Sunset Depot in San Antonio had a budget, apparently. During renovations, the construction of the handrail that Selena Quintanilla used in her video for "No me Queda Mas" was revealed. Longleaf Pine was laminated for a core, and then quarter sawn white oak was attached around that. No one had a clue as to the construction until removal for replacement  100 years later.

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | quarter sawn white oak table top showing ammonia fumed finish effect
Quarter Sawn White Oak Table, 1920's


 

alamo hardwoods | san antonio| white oak quarter sawn veneer singer sewing machine top
Quarter Sawn White Oak Veneer on Antique Singer Sewing Machine, We Sell Replacement Veneer to Match


 

 

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | white oak entry door quarter sawn | monte vista historic
Quarter Sawn White Oak Entry Door in Monte Vista

The identical version of this door from a 1905 house Monte Vista designed by noted architect Alfred Giles was on the front of our 1916 general store turned office building. While trimming the end of one door, the interior core was revealed. The Quarter sawn White Oak was only about 1/4" thick, and the core was laminated pine, probably a white pine.So, people have been cheap for a very, very long time. The floor in this house was also only about 5/16" thick.

alamo hardwoods | san antonio | ken bentley architect | white oak flat cut table top |
Flat Cut White Oak Table Top in Architect Ken Bentley's Office

As traditional as it may seem, white oak can be used in the most contemporary of settings. Noted modernist architect Ken Bentley favors white oak for his personal projects, both interior and exterior. He adds no stain or process to interfere with the natural grain and beauty of the wood.