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How to identify oak wood

Updated February 21, 2017

Oak wood is generally considered one of the strongest,most hard-wearing materials available to the building trade and DIY enthusiasts. It can be used for furniture, cabinets, moulding, trim, flooring, and panelling. To identify oak wood, it is important to look out for key visual and structural characteristics of oak wood.

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  1. Analyse the colour of the wood. The most common types of oak wood for sale are white oak and red oak. White oak will have the appearance of light tan through to darker brown tones, or may be a creamy white colour. Red oak is more likely to run the gamut between pink and red.

  2. Look for the unique patterns on oak wood. Oak wood has some of the most distinctive grain patterns of any wood on the market. The grain patterns are generally large and open, and they are a different shade than the base colour of the wood, so this creates a unique appearance. Red and white oak both have strong grain patterns, but red oak wood generally has the most visually dramatic.

  3. Feel the density of the wood. Oak is a quality material, and one of the aspects which make it stand out from other woods is the density of the material. Red and white oak are very hard and extremely shock absorbent. A simple knock on the wood with your knuckles should give you an indication as to whether you are holding oak wood; it should sound completely solid and there should be no hollowness to the sound.

  4. Ask an expert. If you are purchasing oak and the materials are not all marked and described, and you are not sure whether you have found oak, ask a worker. It is better to be completely sure you have bought oak rather than finding out at a later date that you have bought an inferior wood.

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About the Author

Alan Temple has been writing since 2007 and has published articles for "The Scotsman" and "The List." He now works in the media department of Motherwell Football Club. Temple graduated with honors with a journalism degree at Napier University in Edinburgh, Scotland.

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