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Red Oak and Pin Oak for Flooring

Advice on the sawing characteristics of Red Oak and "Pin Oak" December 6, 2011

What is the difference between pin oak and red oak, when used for cutting wide plank flooring? Also, when you bandsaw cut red oak and pin oak for flooring, what size do you cut so it would dry down to the proper thickness?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The main difference, if you have logs of the same size, is that red oak is a bit red in color. On the other hand, a lot of oak flooring is not red at all. Pin oak has more knots at times, but the growth location - forest versus open - has a bigger effect.

Regarding thickness, we are concerned about the thinnest pieces, so a mill cutting a big difference between thickest and thinnest needs to cut a bigger target size than a mill that has very little difference between thickest and thinnest. Many mills average 1-1/8" but some good mills target 1-1/16". Each 1/32" is 3% yield change.

Note that quartersawn shrinks as much as 10%, but 8% is more common. Then allow 5% for planing. Add a bit more for cupping. Apply these to the thinnest piece. Then add about 3/32" to get the average. This is an estimate and hopefully will work for you.

From contributor A:
How wide? What is your target thickness? I have done 2x6 T&G for exposed lofts and for a 1 3/4 finished face we saw at 2 1/8 (hardwood 8/4). For 1x4 or less you can saw at 1" and get 3/4 finished stock. But if you are doing 3/4 finished and doing 1x12 boards then you will need to look at sawing at 1 1/4 to ensure you can plane out the cup. I cut for a flooring plant that will take my lumber at 1 inch because they are going to rip it down to 3 inch widths to make flooring with. Otherwise we have to saw everything at 1 1/8 to make hardwood 4/4 grade.

From contributor T:

Pin oak *is* a red oak. I don't know your region, but in my experience pretty much anywhere you find pin oak, you'll also find post oak. Post oak is a white oak, and most sawyers I've talked to think of it almost as a trash white oak. Not me. I guess because they do tend to grow with a lot of limbs and sometimes have short butt logs, then branch out.

You would think post oaks that grow like that would mostly be found in open growth situations and trees with better saw logs in them would only be found in denser growth competing with other trees for light, but my experience with post oak is that either type of tree can be found in either type of environment.

I never hesitate to take a decent post oak because the lumber is as good as any other WO, all things equal. If you put me in front of 10 post oaks and 10 pin oaks and tell me you need 11 trees to fill your flooring order, you'll get 10 posts and one pin, provided they are all trees that will make good logs, and I will advise you to just use the pin oak flooring in a room by itself.