Is all the black oak that is being sold finished as red oak? I am from central Indiana and there are a lot of black oaks being removed, but you never see black oak lumber for sale. Any help would be appreciated.
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Oak lumber is sold as either red or white. These are the two groups of oaks based on leaves, acorns, and so on. (Once in a while, California black oak is sold alone. Also, live oak would be alone.) Once sawn into lumber, we cannot separate oak into any group except red or white groups.
Note: Within the group of 20 or so species that we call red oak, there is northern red oak (Quercus Rubra) and southern red oak. Within the 20 or so in the white oak group, there is one species called white oak (Quercus Alba).
So, black oak in the midwest is legally sold as red oak. When the rings are spaced 1/4" or further apart, we might also call this a southern oak (or lowland). Closer spacing is a northern or Appalachian (or upland) oak. This adjective is added to either red or white and does not replace red or white.
Some years ago, Jack Daniels had an ad with a forester leaning against a very large oak tree. The ad mentioned how they were proud of the oaks that they used for barrels, etc. The tree was actually a chestnut oak tree. After I wrote to them to let them know about this, they were kind enough to send me a nice letter of thanks.
Hence, white oak is preferred for wine barrels. White oak also has a lack of leakage. Some barrels can be lined with plastic. Barrel oak is quarter-sawn. To add color and flavor, white oak barrels may be charred on the inside. This gives whiskey its dark color.