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Old 23-07-2010, 07:46   #1
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White Oak vs Red Oak

For a marine application, that might see brackish estuaries, but probably not blue water, how much better really is white oak? My particular usage is for the blocks for mounting the lee board pivots, just above the shear on the deck. Red oak is easy to obtain, white oak takes a search and probably a few hour's round trip.

I know white oak is supposed to be similar in strength and a bit better in rot resistance. How great are these differences? And in my use, would the differences matter?
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Old 23-07-2010, 07:50   #2
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Red oak will start rotting the minute you put it in.( slight exaggeration) It is completely unsuitable for marine applications.(Not an exaggeration at all)

Go with White.

If you're near Chicago try Owl Hardwood (Des Plaines).
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Old 23-07-2010, 08:30   #3
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Red oak ... is completely unsuitable for marine applications.(Not an exaggeration at all)
Go with White.
If you're near Chicago try Owl Hardwood (Des Plaines).
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Old 23-07-2010, 09:25   #4
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Exactly what I was looking for.
Thanks!
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Old 23-07-2010, 09:52   #5
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Oak is very hard and has a tendency to chip when you cut across the grain. Make sure your tools are sharp. Instead of Oak have you considered Ipe?
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Old 23-07-2010, 10:09   #6
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Red oak will start rotting the minute you put it in.( slight exaggeration) It is completely unsuitable for marine applications
How about inside the cabin, well painted?
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Old 23-07-2010, 10:23   #7
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How about inside the cabin, well painted?
Somewhat less risky, but I'd avoid it as no paint job is "perfect". It really is a "rot magnet".
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Old 23-07-2010, 10:30   #8
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Old 23-07-2010, 11:10   #9
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There are two types of oaks, the "whites" and the "reds" in this country. Both are used in the boat building industry.

Typical uses for the reds are in deadwood assemblies where continuous submersion can be expected. In this environment, it's a weaker and lighter alternative to white. It's also not as likely to rot in this application. This said, most of the reds have a tendency to rot at the mere mentioning of moisture, as has been noted above. It's interconnected cellular structure can wick moisture through the body of a piece, which isn't good. If well protected or used in locations where very limited direct water contact is present, it can be successfully employed.

Of the whites, plain old white oak (Quercus alba) is an industry standard, but not the best choice among the whites. Live oak (Quercus Virginiana) is hands down superior in every regard. It's denser (the densest wood in North America), it's stronger, it's more rot resistant, it's less prone to check/split because of an interlocking grain, it's heavier, etc.

To answer your question about the leeboard bearing blocks (I'm assuming), I'd be inclined to agree that red oak isn't the best choice, mostly because it will wet/dry cycle a lot and red doesn't like this much, without issues. This isn't to say you couldn't use it, you can. The blocks will be well above the LWL so only intermittently soaked. If you provide an epoxy pivot bearing, encapsulate the piece well and keep an eye on it's condition, then you could get away with red oak. It wouldn't be my first choice or second, but it can work.
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Old 25-07-2010, 21:01   #10
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Okay, went to Owl yesterday. Picked up some 5/4 x 6" (1-1/16" thick) for the leeboard mounts. Well, about triple what I think I'll need. But then I have it, right? If I never use it, my buddy can use it on his lathe for pens and Christmas tree ornaments. Also grabbed some 4/4 (3/4 thick) for the ports, and a couple extra pieces that look like they may make a useful brace or such. So, once I get done with the eternal job of fairing the cabin for painting, I'm ready for the leeboard mounts!
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Old 29-07-2010, 05:14   #11
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Looks like the deal is done but I'll weigh in anyway. My experience from too many years in the woodwork trade making interior & exterior architectural woodwork is that red oak survives wet dry cycle better that white. White is much more prone to checking. I agree on the rot part but the key is how much wet vs. how much dry. We have red oak fence boards at home in good condition after 20+ years raw unfinished, but they are elevated off the ground & do thoroughly dry out after wetting.
I have used Ipe for various "structural" applications, like an angled main sheet block mount at the mast base to accommodate a new vang. Wears and machine almost like steel, checks far less than oak. It is a decking material available up to 4x4 at building supply houses. Screw pilot holes need to be a tad larger than root diameter or the screw will snap.
Whatever you do, consider painting, not varnishing it. Paint protects more & will last a lot longer. Well painted will avoid much of the wet/dry cycle problem.
As I say when I sometimes give workshops on woodwork topics, ask 10 different woodworkers & you will get 10 different answers.
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Old 29-07-2010, 07:45   #12
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At this time, am intending epoxy barrier coating, with a clear poly over that. Parts will be epoxy glued & bronxe screwed together.
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