Oak furniture has a lot to offer. In addition to durability and high-performing function, there are striking colors and grain patterns to enjoy. Oak wood is widely used in buildings, cabinets, flooring and furniture. It’s also ideal for boats because of its strength and resistance to rot and decay. Oak wood is the most widely used hardwood in American furniture making.
Why oak furniture you may ask?
It’s wood that can always be taken to task,
The strong and durable choice they say,
Built to be beautiful and used every day.
Where is Oak Grown and Harvested?
Oak trees can grow in both mild and tropical climates and can be found in regions of Asia, North America, Europe, and North Africa. There are over 500 varieties of oak trees around the world. North America is home to the largest number of oak species, with over 60 species of oak trees growing in the United States. Oak trees can be found in almost every state in the U.S. The oak used by our woodworkers is regionally sourced.
Oak trees can primarily be divided into two groups: white oaks and red oaks. White oaks are deciduous (they shed their leaves annually), and they have thick trunks. White oak trees range in height from 60 to 100 feet and the trunk of a white oak tree can grow up to 4 feet wide.
Red oak trees range in height from 50 to 80 feet, with a trunk that can grow as big as 2 to 3 feet wide. Red oak trees are also deciduous and have thick trunks.
How Does Oak Wood Look?
While there are many different species of oak trees, the two main oak woods used to make oak furniture are red oak and white oak.
Overall, oak wood is primarily a light-colored wood. The colors in oak furniture come from the heartwood and sapwood of the tree.
Of the two, red oak wood actually contains lighter shades than white oak does.
White oak’s heartwood features shades of light to medium brown and includes browns and tans ranging from dark brown to medium brown with some yellow shades mixed in. In red oak, the colors include a range from white to a soft brown, with both the heartwood and sapwood colors having a pinkish hue to them.
If you look at an endgrain section of oak heartwood, it tells another story that reveals another difference between red oak and white oak wood. The endgrain of red oak wood has growth rings that are open and porous. The endgrain of white oak wood shows growth rings with pores that are filled with tyloses. What is the significance of this? The tyloses that fill those pores are what contributes to providing white oak wood with greater resistance to rot and decay.
DutchCrafters oak furniture is made from red oak. Our quarter sawn oak furniture is made from white oak.
The Grain in Oak Furniture
Oak furniture will display a prominent grain pattern, making oak a little easier to identify than other hardwoods. There’s a lot going on in an oak wood grain pattern, and this adds character to the solid wood furniture made from oak wood.
How Strong is Oak Furniture?
Oak furniture is sturdy and reliable. It’s strength and hardness make it ideal for furniture that is used on a daily basis.
The Janka Hardness Scale rates the relative hardness of hard wood using the Janka Hardness Test. It is the industry standard for comparing the relative hardness of different wood species. Here’s how it works: The Janka Hardness Test involves measuring the force required to embed a .444 inch (or 11.28 millimetres) small steel ball to half its diameter into a piece of wood. This shows the wood’s ability to handle denting and wear and how hard it is to work on with when sawing or nailing it. The higher the number, the harder the wood.
White oak has a 1360 Janka rating and red oak has a 1290 Janka rating. Oak is harder than most woods used in furniture making. By comparison, Cherry has a 950 rating, walnut has a 1010 rating, and hard maple has a 1450 rating.
Should I Stain or Paint Oak Furniture?
Oak wood takes stain well and can be finished in a variety of light to dark stains. The prominent grain pattern however, combined with a coarse texture, mean that oak is not the best candidate for a painted finish. Oak wood also glues and finishes well, making it easy to work with by hand or with machine tools.
Samples of Stain Finishes on Oak Wood
Unique Characteristics of Oak Furniture
- Strong and durable
- Prominent wood grain
- Coarse texture
- Radiates warmth
- Beautiful colors
- Takes stain and finish well
- Added resistance to wear, rot and decay
- Added resistance to moisture
What Are the Most Common Uses for Oak Wood?
Oak wood makes for beautiful trim inside homes, for cabinets and wood flooring, and for solid wood furniture. Its hardness makes it a top candidate for these tasks since it will stand the test of time. For solid wood furniture, oak is ideal for furniture that gets heavy use, like dining chairs, dining tables, and living room furniture.
How Does the Cost of Oak Furniture Compare to Other Hardwoods?
Oak furniture has an attractive price tag. Oak furniture and brown maple furniture are the two least expensive hard wood furniture options.
White oak wood costs a little more than red oak wood, (remember it offers that added resistance to rot and decay) and white oak is harder and a little more stable than red oak.
How Do I Take Care of my Oak Wood Furniture?
Oak furniture does not require any special care from other types of hardwood furniture. Visit our Caring for Wood Furniture page for more information.
Feel free to contact our team of furniture specialists toll-free at 1-866-272-6773 regarding our oak furniture as well as other wood types we offer.