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English Oak Quercus robur

English oak is renowned for its coarse grain, distinctive medullary rays and wavy grain. Quartersawn lumber is used for the finest woodwork, being stable and strong, while slab-cut wood has wild flames of grain and is used
in all forms of decorative woodwork. Popular with turners for its color, grain and coarse texture, English oak is still widely used for traditional house building, especially when green and unseasoned.

Type Temperate hardwood
Other names European oak, truffle oak
Alternatives White oak (Q. alba), red oak (Q. rubra)
Sources Europe
Color Light brown, with a golden hue
Texture Coarse. Soft tissue can be worn away with a wire brush or by sandblasting for special effects.
Grain Can be very wavy
Weight Medium to heavy (45-47 lb./ cu. ft.) (720-750 kg/cu. m)
Hardness Hard
Strength High
Seasoning and stability Usually air-dried, slowly. There is a great risk of checking and splitting, which adds to wastage.
Wastage Often high, with wide sapwood and waney edges Range of board widths Good, with wide boards available
Range of board thicknesses Good
Durability Excellent; oak was used to make early battleships.

Quartersawn oak is traditionally used for drawer linings. Burl oak is popular with turners and as veneer for furniture and cabinet work. The diseased heart of some dying oaks is dark, and is known as brown oak.

There is a growing quantity of English oak from certified sustainable sources, but it is generally safe to use.


Good English oak can be expensive and wastage rates can be high.

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Updated: 12/2017   copyright 2011 Rowecraft