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Coyote Jim

What to do with red oak?

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So I just got my hands on a lot of red oak. I should have turned it down but I got all of this for only $100 and at the time it felt too good to pass up.

IMG_20181215_143821.thumb.jpg.6a7b03304c52a66159028fdcc2c455f2.jpg

Pretty good haul. Some of it is 8/4 some is 4/4. My issue is that I just don't really like how red oak looks. White oak is pretty great but red oak....meh. Does anyone have any great techniques to make red oak look better? Dyes or stains or chemical treatments that get it away from that bleh pink color?

I'm having buyers remorse here.

On a completely related note, if any of you are in the Phoenix area I could make you a pretty sweet deal on some red oak!

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5 minutes ago, Coyote Jim said:

My issue is that I just don't really like how red oak looks.

Turns out $100 wasn't such a good deal.  Use it from some shop fixtures or furniture.  Red oak is hard to stain because of the open grain, the cathedral grain stands out even more when you try to stain or color it.  If you don't really like red oak it would seem to me you have painted yourself into a corner. ;)   And  beings you are in the Phoenix area you probably don't even have a fire place to burn it in.

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It makes decent flooring. If you dye it black and put a clear finish on it all the grain shows and it works with simple modern design pieces.

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Hey Jim, you and I have our red oak opinions in common.

My favorite way to finish red oak is to paint it. Not being a smart ass here. It looks great with a few coats of rattle can black on it. The open grain partially fills in, but is still a prominent characteristic. I've not tried Steve's idea of dying it black & then a clear coat, but next time I use it, that's what I'll do. I think it would look good painted in colors too.

The look of clear finished red oak is just very unappealing to me.

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I use dyed plaster of paris as a grain filler on red oak, and think it looks pretty good. The guy I made that massive oak trestle table for liked it so much, he asked me to make a small dry bar and some door-sized shutters with the same technique.

Here is a Blog Post  with details.

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I’m surprised to hear claims that red oak does not stain well. I’ve had good experiences with staining it darker. I do get that golden colored oak is unpopular due to over exposure. So, if you want to get rid of it, maybe a relatively large, but fast project, like a bed, to use some of it up.

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6 minutes ago, Chestnut said:

Some people don't like the distinct pore filled stain look that makes the cathedral and pores pop like pictured above. It's all subjective because i know people that love that look. The two bookshelves i made not that long ago were red oak.

I don't care for the wood because it's really splintery and i just like the way cherry works better.

I understand. I don't use it much myself, but I guess I when I think of difficult to stain woods, I think of things like maple and pine that get blotchy and maybe won't even really take the color (not that I'm often trying to stain maple.. just saying!). Oak is easy to get a nice uniform color, with the caveat you mentioned, that the cathedrals will be uniformly darker. 

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4 minutes ago, Isaac said:

I understand. I don't use it much myself, but I guess I when I think of difficult to stain woods, I think of things like maple and pine that get blotchy and maybe won't even really take the color (not that I'm often trying to stain maple.. just saying!). Oak is easy to get a nice uniform color, with the caveat you mentioned, that the cathedrals will be uniformly darker. 

There are ways around that like pore filling and other techniques. I really want to try some of the chemical stians like lye ect. Fuming white oak looks awesome as well.

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Just now, Chestnut said:

There are ways around that like pore filling and other techniques. I really want to try some of the chemical stians like lye ect. Fuming white oak looks awesome as well.

sure, if you want to go to the trouble, was referring to the general case. 

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I like red oak. On quartered the fleck is smaller. The projects above in red oak are exceptional. i do like white more. But red makes fine projects. With an oil finish containing amber the red is diminished. 

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Our house is all oak... oak floors, oak trim, oak shelving.   So I've done a few things in red oak to kind of match... like a coat rack in the hallway and such.   But generally I avoid it for furniture just because we have too much of it.

But it's a worthwhile wood to  have around.   It's hard and dense and useful when making things that you need some strength.   I have some bench hooks I bought from Bad Axe tools which are made from quartersawn red oak.   http://www.badaxetoolworks.com/bad-axe-bench-hook-sets.php

I think it looks nice with a stain.   My coat rack I used the Watco walnut danish oil and it looks fairly nice.

As drzaius mentioned, it actually looks nice spray painted black.   This is more common with ash which has a similar grain structure, you see a lot of speakers with ash exteriors that are painted black.   Matte maybe moreso than gloss, but you'd have to experiment.

It does not look good painted white.   Up here a lot of houses have oak trim, cabinets and such, and HGTV teaches everyone they should have white trim, so you'll go into a lot of houses where they paint the oak white.   A friend of mine is currently in the process of ripping it all out as it looks terrible and can't be undone.   

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I also got a truck load of it for a good deal. I have used it for shop stuff mostly, but I think I may make one of those Lego tables with some red oak.

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On 12/17/2018 at 11:13 AM, drzaius said:

I hope that didn't make them taste like red oak smells when being cut.

I thought that most charcoal was made from oak wood but it turns out Kingsford's standard blend uses a softwood hardwood mix so sound slike they aren't picky. It tasted nothing like it smells when cut though i don't find that smell bad. Unless your talking wet red oak then i'll agree.

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On 12/17/2018 at 10:26 AM, Chestnut said:

I made some really tasty pork chops and Venison steaks over a red oak fire last night.... :D

That ain’t right. Back strap tastes better when cooked in Texas. PM me for an address. 

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4 minutes ago, K Cooper said:

That ain’t right. Back strap tastes better when cooked in Texas. PM me for an address. 

How'd you know it was the backstraps?

I"m starting to get the feeling that you're stalking me.

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