American Red Oak


American Red Oak is regarded as one of the most beautiful woods to work with because of its grain pattern and character. It is one of the fastest growing oaks, reported to re-generate easily.


  • Colour – The sapwood of American Red Oak is Greyish to Pale Reddish Brown. The heartwood is light reddish brown to light brown. May show a pronounced cast of flesh colour.
  • Grain – Usually straight and open. Grain and colour variation is usually pronounced dependent on the origin. Usually exhibits a plumed or flared grain appearance.
  • Texture – Depends on the rate of growth of the tree. Northern grown American Red Oaks are less coarse textured than the faster grown ones from the Southern States. Illingworth Ingham’s stocks are usually from the North. Red Oak rays are generally shorter, narrower and darker than white oak.


  • Strength – American Red Oak compares in strength to American White Oak.
  • Natural Durability – Little resistance to attack by decay causing organisms and other wood destroying insects.
  • Ease Of Drying – Generally difficult, but faster than White Oak. Drying defects such as ring failure, iron stains and honeycomb can occur.
  • Preservative Treatment – Resistant to Preservative Treatments

Working Properties

  • Blunting Effect On Cutters – Moderate.
  • Planing – Hard, but responds readily to sharp tools to yield clean, smooth surfaces (91%).
  • Turning Qualities – Rated as good and surfaces are generally clean (84%)
  • Boring – Ring porous but still has good boring properties (99%)
  • Moulding – Very poor.
  • Gluing – Satisfactory.
  • Nailing – Heavy and must be pre-bored. (66%).
  • Screwing – Good, holds screws firmly (78%).
  • Sanding – Sands readily to produce a clean surface (81%).
  • Steam Bending – Often used (86%).
  • Response To Hand Tools – Works well as long as they are sharp.


  • Staining – Good. Large pores tend to produce strong contrast in staining. A darker colour stain preceded by a light colour filler produces the “lime” look and a high tannin content allows wood to be treated with ammonia to yield a nearly black “Jacobean” finish.