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Thread: white oak Vs Red Oak.....

  1. #1

    Thumbs up white oak Vs Red Oak.....

    glued side by side- will white oak and red oak take stain/varnish differently enough to stand out significantly?

    I have a white oak project and cannot find 1 1/2" dowel in anything but red oak.


  2. #2
    Oh, yeah, quite different. Different color, figure, pores, types of pores, etc. Red oak is 'open' meaning if you dip the end grain of a red oak dowel in soapy water and blow on the other end you will probably blow bubbles. White oak pores are generally filled (and make better whiskey barrel because of it). This makes them take certain finished very differently. Some more so than others. Try a quick sample to see with your finish of choice. I don't know what your application is or how many but could you machine your own dowel for this one?
    Last edited by glenn bradley; 01-26-2008 at 10:39 AM.
    “If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” -- George Orwell


  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by glenn bradley View Post
    Oh, yeah, quite different. Different color, figure, pores, types of pores, etc. Red oak is 'open' meaning if you dip the end grain of a red oak dowel in soapy water and blow on the other end you will probably blow bubbles. White oak pores are generally filled (and make better whiskey barrel because of it). This makes them take certain finished very differently. Some more so than others. Try a quick sample to see with your finish of choice. I don't know what your application is or how many but could you machine your own dowel for this one?

    whoa- that much of a difference? Glenn, does that mean I will probably not need a pore paste/filler?
    Also, does it matter if im planning on staining the project a very dark brown/ebony?

    machine my own dowel? LOL im lucky that my wife lets me have a table saw and drill press! Glen the only machinin' Im smart enough to do is when my coveralls get dirty.

  4. #4
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    I have to agree that white oak and red oak are quite different woods. Each will accept stain differently even very dark stains. The pore and grain figure structure is quite different and would be quite noticeable if glued side by side. Another issue is that the two woods have somewhat different rate of expansion/contraction and glue joints could be problematic.

    Let me suggest you glue a red oak and white oak test. Go through your planned finishing schedule and then decide how it looks. That's the only way to decide something like this.
    Howie.........

  5. #5
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    It isn't too difficult to make your own dowel of that size, using a tablesaw and a handplane. Use the saw to make an octagonal blank. Use the handplane to remove the ridges. It goes quite quickly.

  6. #6
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    Glenn, I'm sorry, but I just have to ask…

    How much time have you spent dipping red oak in soap and blowing bubbles?
    Veni Vidi Vendi Vente! I came, I saw, I bought a large coffee!

  7. #7
    Ok, after my bubble blowing test and my glue up test I should be able to note how different the stains will turn out. I'll post a picture.

    Im not as worried about joint strength because the joint is a sort of longintudinal dado that will not recieve any cantilever force.

    Jamie- as for making my own perfectly round dowel by hand planing 1390 white oak- refer to washing machine comment above. Im slow in more than one way! You're hired!

  8. #8
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    You could dowel your piece with red oak (or anything, really) but cut the dowel shorter than the hole. Then drive it home and glue in white oak plugs over the red oak. Make your own plugs with a plug cutter on your drill press. Piece of cake. Little hint. When you make the white oak plugs, mark the grain direction on the blank before you drill out the plugs. Then align the grain on both plug and your project and saw/sand off the top of the plug. When you apply your finish you will barely see the plug, if at all.

  9. #9
    Bert this is a good idea, but i need the dowel for the top of the sleigh rail on the crib im putting together. Thank you for the handy pearls of wisdom, I'll tuck them away for future reference.
    Perhaps I should just experiment with getting the stains to match up.....
    David
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  10. #10
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    Midwest Dowel Works, Cincinnati, Ohio, 1-800-555-0133, www.midwestdowel.com. All sorts of dowels in size and type. Sizes ranging from 1/4" to 1-1/2" in 1/4 increments (9 different thicknesses) in addition to 1-1/2", 1-3/4 and 2" (special order?). Different types - red oak, white oak, hard maple, hickory, poplar, walnut, cherry, mahogany, teak, pressure treated and probably more.

    Yes, there are differences between red and white oak and I agree that red oak is usually redder than white oak and red oak will stain darker than white oak. But I've had red oak that lighter in color than white oak. And the same can be said about staining. Oak sold at Lowes, Home Depot, etc. is red oak (at least around here, eastern PA). White oak is good for outdoor projects, red oak is not. And both red and white oak contain tannic acid (like cedar) that will rust nails/screws and cause rust streaks. So it's best to use stainless steel, galvanized, McFeely's NoCoRode, etc. nails/screws.

    How do you tell red oak from white oak? From Bruce Hoadley, Identifying Wood ...... There is a chemical test that is something like 98% accurate. I use a method that is suppose to be around 90% accurate and that is the length of the rays (look like black threads that go with the grain). In red oak, the rays are always 3/4" and less, in white oak, can be upwards to 2"" and more.

    Regards, Joe
    Two weeks, your project will be done in two weeks!!! (From the Money Pit)

  11. #11
    Joseph, I have all white oak except for the rail piece which is red oak. I picked this up at a hardware store because I could not find 56" of 1.5 or 1.75 inch dowel in white oak.
    I checked midwest dowel- they didnt have the larger diameter on the website but I emailed them- thank you very much for the recommendation!
    Im staining this project quite darkly. If I cant find the w.o. dowel in the right size, I'll start to experiment with trying to match the stain on both (i guess).

    Joe- does red oak vary enough to stain differently from cut to cut? (the red oak 1.75" handrail I have is put together from small pieces with finger joints but it cost me almost $50 so i dont want to experiment on it!)
    David
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    <*)))))))=<

  12. #12
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    David,

    From Midwest Dowel Works catalog, 2003, page 3:

    "Larger Diameter Hardwood Dowels ... Listed in Poplar. For All Other Species and Lengths Call ... 36' Lengths".

    Specific gravity very close; red 0.63, white 0.68. Red oak, white oak, walnut, mahogany, ash, etc. are open grained which means they have open pores (as in pores on your skin). To get a "piano" finish, the pores/grain have to be filled.

    In my experiences, if you start with oak, red or white, that is basically the same color, they will stain the same. By same, I mean somewhat light, medium or dark, i.e., light and dark will look different. This also assumes that you are using only one color stain for the whole project. (Remember I'm getting all my wood locally, all air dried, 10+ years, etc. Things might be different in other parts of the country).

    I use Watco Danish oil and they have only one color oak, Golden Oak. Their walnut on the other hand comes in Light, Medium and Dark. I've used light on dark walnut and dark on light walnut and they come up looking pretty similar. Maybe there is stain out there for oak being the same light, medium and dark.

    One important thing to keep in mine when staining: the finer the sanding grit, the less the penetration of the stain. And in your case, I would think that you would want the stain to penetrate. With oak, I rarely go over 150 in grit especially if the wood color is a little off mainly because oak doesn't take stain all that well (it does, but ...). Walnut and cherry on the other hand, takes stain well (better) and I usually go to 180 grit.

    I think that you said that your going to stain your project quite dark. I'm guessing something like mahogany stain over oak. I've done that and it looks quite nick.

    But I'm wondering why you used oak if your going to go for the "dark" look. And in particular, why white oak over red oak as white is harder to get than red oak. If it was a outdoor project of Mission furniture I could see why.

    I'm a little confused as far as the red oak handrail versus the white oak dowel; are they one in the same. In other words, if you get the 56" white oak dowel, will you return the red oak handrail? And does the dowel have to 56' long, not say 30" and 26". And does it have to be round and not say a 1" x 2" with the ends rounded over?

    Regards, Joe
    Two weeks, your project will be done in two weeks!!! (From the Money Pit)

  13. #13
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    David,

    Something else. Try a piece of red oak and see how it looks. No red oak (not counting the $50 handrail).

    Forget Lowe's (at least around here, Phila). They only sell by the piece, usually 8'. I asked them and they said insurance reasons! And any pieces left over, as in cutting it for a customer, they throw away.

    Home Depot sells by the linear foot and have a table with a saw to cut your own. If the price is per piece, i.e., $14.95 for 7', you got to take the whole piece. And for kicks, get a foot from a light color and dark color red oak so you can compare those pieces.

    I asked the sales person about the per foot thing and he said that he didn't know about the insurance thing; Home Depot around here never had a problem. And as far as cutting, they have a deal with the supplier to take back short pieces.

    While at Home Depot I checked out the "hardwood" molding, in particular the molding that had the word "oak" in the part number. Guess what: the "oak" was not oak. Asked the clerk about it and he said he ofter wondered about that. He said that it was hardwood, that what the sign said, but the "oaK' in the part number did not mean that the wood was "oak". His thinking was maybe it looked like oak. And again, he said that the sign for the section said "hardwood", not "oak hardwood". The dimensional section said oak and the wood was indeed oak.

    Regards, Joe
    Two weeks, your project will be done in two weeks!!! (From the Money Pit)

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Joseph N. Myers View Post
    David,



    But I'm wondering why you used oak if your going to go for the "dark" look. And in particular, why white oak over red oak as white is harder to get than red oak. If it was a outdoor project of Mission furniture I could see why.

    Joe, Im using white oak because I thought the grain appears softer and the wood is harder- I guess I assumed it would look smoother and my wife wanted a mahogony or walnut look but these woods are VERY expensive here in utah.

    I'm a little confused as far as the red oak handrail versus the white oak dowel; are they one in the same. In other words, if you get the 56" white oak dowel, will you return the red oak handrail? And does the dowel have to 56' long, not say 30" and 26". And does it have to be round and not say a 1" x 2" with the ends rounded over?

    I got the red oak handrail because I couldnt find a large enough white oak dowel (minimum 1.5" and 56" in length)
    If I could find the white oak dowel, I would definetly take back the handrail. It doesnt have to be perfectly round but needs to be at least 3/4 rounded. See the picture I attached here for how it fits onto the crib (I actually need two 56" pieces)

    Regards, Joe
    By the way Joe, thank you very much.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    David
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  15. #15
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    Dave,

    Computer is just about ready to be updated/fixed!!! Wish me luck!!!!!

    Have some good info for you --- am sending you an e-mail.

    Regards, Joe
    Two weeks, your project will be done in two weeks!!! (From the Money Pit)

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