TheFatBaron

Has anyone ever found Live Oak for sale?

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I found one site (which doesn't seem to have been updated in over a year), and sent them an email, but have yet to hear back. I figure I'll wait a couple more days, then give them a call.

Has anyone here actually purchased live oak in the past? Bonus points if they're ship to NJ (definitely not live oak territory).

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LOLOLOL Steve.

Fatbaron, we have lots of live oak around here but any of it that is cut is usually thrown on the fire. Because it was used in the past to build ships (Old Ironsides, etc.) by the US Navy, it was harvested heavily in the past and now seems to be relegated to an ornamental. From what I understand, the grain is so twisted and stringy that the average woodworker runs away.

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Live oak is a term in the US for any oak tree that does not lose it's leaves and go dormant in the winter. There are several species in the southern US, and a few in southern Europe. In particular, it is the common name for one such species in the southeast US, Quercus virginiana.

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Live Oak is really common here in Florida, I have three huge specimens on my property, but is not normally sold as lumber or turning stock. It is very tough stuff. You can acquire logs of it from Tree surgeons and then have someone slab it out for you that's about all I have seen.

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Beech - quercus virginiana is the one I commonly see referenced as "live oak" - and yep, it's tough stuff. The same stuff that makes it a pain to work (density, weight) makes an excellent bokken (wooden training weapon) if you can find a piece that's moderately straight-grained. It's supposedly very similar to japanese white oak (aka shiro kashi) which is also evergreen (and apparently different from American white oak, aka quercus alba).

Anyway, croessler and Troy's comments are generally what I see online - no one really uses it, but every so often a tree goes down and someone snags a log or two. Oh well. Here's hoping I get a response.

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I'm surprised that the six US "super frigates" were built out of a wood that's so difficult to work. Maybe back then there was a lot of old growth live oak with straighter grain?

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Some stuff I had read was that shipbuilding took advantage of the fact that the wood was often naturally curved, and learned to work with it. Also, I'll guess blindly that it's "hard to work" compared to your average clear piece of oak or whatever.

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I grew up in central Texas and had Live Oak growing every where on our ranch. I would love to find some for sale because it has beautiful grain. A live oak slab could make a really cool live edge table even though it might be a nightmare to work with.

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Beech, the ships were built out of live oak because they wanted the twisted, gnarled, grain. It was so tough that cannon balls wouldn't penetrate it. That's why the Brits thought the USS Constitution was made of iron.

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So, my live oak arrived today. Almost as much in shipping as for the wood itself. It's definitely not top grade, but man - this is pretty stuff. Also, heavy. My wife asked if I had ordered lead painted to look like wood. The link above does have some. They said it goes in and out of stock based on what they cut recently. I happened to snag two air-dried 2" x 8" x 12' boards, one flatsawn, one almost quartersawn. They had to be cut to 108" to meet UPS's shipping guidlines, but they're still plenty usable.

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Baron, let us know how it works and show us some finished pictures. Every time we have a hurricane around here, there is lots of it for the taking. It might be worth the effort to haul it to the mill.

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Ship builders would send loggers drawings of joints needed for the frame of the ship. The loggers would search the forest for a tree where the branch grew off the trunk in the proper shape, then harvest that tree. It was hard work searching the swamps for the right tree. It's also why these large oaks are rare today.

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I can hook you up depending on what your needs are. We mill LO Quercus virginiana from time to time and typically try and work with the figured curly live oak. Shipping is no issue either. I have been eyeballing one a guy has been taking down piece by piece for some time now. I am holding out to see if it is pith rotted before I commit to milling it. It is big and I would probably have to mill it on site. 

 

I am new here, I dont see a PM ability but you can email me a rob@funktionhouse.com 

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Great thread.

I've been trying to get my hands on pieces of LO once I heard about it a few years ago.

Every summer when I'm on vacation in OBX, I prowl around looking for a landscaper cutting one, or downed pieces.

My family will be thrilled not to share an 8 hour car ride home with some chunks of wood (and bugs) I've stuffed in...

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Since this got bumped, I figured I'd give another update... UGH.

 

Between the density and the crazy grain and the flaws I thought I cut around (but didn't), this stuff is itching to the thrown into the pile for the smoker. I've got a couple large-ish pieces left that I'll probably just use as... I dunno. A portable "benchtop" for my sawhorses or something. Or a nice "rustic" top for something, once I stabilize the cracks.

 

Less than fun to work with handtools.

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Janka # for Hard Maple is something like 1126.  Janka for Live Oak is 3300.  Probably the best wood for resisting cannon balls.   I've often wondered how resistant to rot it is.  I remember seeing dead logs on the ground in S.C. that people said had been laying there all their lives.  It would probably make good exterior door and window sills.  I'd like to get my hands on some to make sills out of.

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I saw a listing on wood-database.com that shows is around the same hardness as Jatoba (wood I work without problems)... but I doubt that, given my experiences. It's definitely harder.

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Jatoba is listed at 2350 and Live Oak at 3200  http://ejmas.com/tin/2009tin/tinart_goldstein_0904.html    According to that Boxwood is a little harder than Jatoba.  I use Boxwood for some things, but the pieces are never very large.  I have some dry logs that are 5 or 6 inches in diameter.  It machines beautifully, and has almost no grain.  Lignumvitae is still the winner at Janka 4500.

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I've been collecting acorns from the healthiest/most abuse resistant specimens I can find in the DC area.  I'll be doing some germination tests &c in the fall if they don't go bad on me.  After that there might be free seedlings for those in the NOVA area!

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Put the acorns in a bucket of water. If they float, they are no good and won't germinate. Just skim those off the top and fish the good ones off the bottom of the bucket.

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Put the acorns in a bucket of water. If they float, they are no good and won't germinate. Just skim those off the top and fish the good ones off the bottom of the bucket.

I used to use that same method testing acacia species in the Peace Corps!  good to know it works on acorns too...

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