American red oak (Quercus spp.)
Other names: Northern red oak, Southern red oak


Distribution
Widespread throughout Eastern USA. The oaks are by far the largest species group growing in the Eastern hardwood forests. Red oaks grow more abundantly than the white oaks. The red oak group comprises many species, of which about eight are commercial.

General description
The sapwood of red oak is white to light brown and the heartwood is a pinkish reddish brown. The wood is similar in general appearance to white oak, but with a slightly less pronounced figure due to the smaller rays. The wood is mostly straight grained, with a coarse texture. The red oak tree gets its name because of the colour of the leaves in the 'fall' (Autumn).

Working properties
Red oak machines well, nailing and screwing is good although pre-boring is recommended, and it can be stained and polished to a good finish. It dries slowly with a tendency to split and warp. It has a high shrinkage and can be susceptible to movement in performance.

   
Machining
Nailing
Screwing
Gluing
Finishing

Physical properties
The wood is hard and heavy, with medium bending strength and stiffness and high crushing strength. It is very good for steam bending. Southern red oak has a more rapid growth than Northern red oak and tends to be harder and heavier.

Specific Gravity: a) 0.63 (12% M.C.) b) 0.68
Average Weight: a) 705 kg/m3 (12% M.C.) b) 753 kg/m3
Average Volumetric Shrinkage: a) 10.8 (Green to 6% M.C.) b) N/A
Modulus of Elasticity: a) 12,549 MPa b) 15,721 MPa
Hardness: a) 5738 N b) 6583 N
a) Quercus rubra (Northern red oak)
b) Quercus falcata (Southern red oak)

Durability
Rated slightly to non-resistant to heartwood decay, moderately easy to treat with preservatives.

Availability
USA: Abundant. Most widely used species.
Export: Good availability as lumber and veneer, but less than white oak. Red oak is often classified according to growing regions and marketed as Northern red oak, and Southern red oak.

Main uses
Construction, furniture, flooring, architectural interiors, internal joinery and mouldings, doors, kitchen cabinets, panelling, coffins and caskets. Not suitable for tight cooperage. Red oak can vary in colour, texture, characteristics and properties according to the growing region. It is therefore recommended that users and specifiers work closely with their suppliers to make sure the wood they order is suited to their specific needs.

Alder
Ash
Aspen
Basswood
Beech
Birch
Cherry
Cottonwood
Elm
Hackberry
Hickory
Hard Maple
Pecan
Red Oak
Sap Gum
Sassafras
Soft Maple
American Tulipwood
Walnut
Willow
White Oak

2002 American Hardwood Export Council

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