The sapwood of White Oak is light in color and can range from a pale yellow-brown to a greyish-white. The heartwood may be either light brown in color, or a darker brown with deep, golden tones. The distinctive coarse texture and straight grain has longer rays than Red Oak. Fasting-growing Oaks, such as those grown in the South, produce wider, more prominent growth rings.
Quartersawn or quarter slicing is when each quarter of a log is placed on the slicer plate so that each stroke of the slicer will pass the flitch over the knife perpendicular to the growth rings, and radial to the center of the log. This produces a very straight grain (quartered) appearance. Wood rays, present to some extent in all species of trees, are much larger in some, particularly red oak and white oak. Quarter slicing these two species may expose wide areas of these rays as flake, sometimes referred to as ray flake, fleck, or quarter flake.
White Oak grows abundantly throughout the eastern United States, from the South, up through the Appalachian area, northward into areas of southeastern Canada. Oak is the most widely available American hardwood, with White Oak second to Red Oak in abundance.
White Oak is heavy, hard, and very strong. It is worked easily, by machine or by hand, although slow-growing Oak is much easier to work than the faster growing varieties, such as those that thrive in the South. While White Oak nails and screws well, pre-boring is advised for best results. To prevent the wood from reacting to iron, galvanized nails are recommended. Excellent results can be expected with staining, bleaching or pickling.
White Oak is a popular selection for flooring, stairparts, architectural millwork, pulpits and pews, furniture and cabinetry. Its water-resistant characteristics have made it a preferred choice for ship timbers, barrels and casks. White Oak is also widely used for paneling and decorative veneers. Alternate species can include Red Oak and White Ash.