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Oak - European V American White Oak

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redhunter350

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I am not sure what the pros & cons are of the two species so would like some comments of our knowledgable team !

The use will be an open plan staircase and have been looking at material for the strings, most suppliers only have 32mm thick, finished, I would prefer it to be 40/45mm and the only one I can find who supplies this is in American White Oak. The width is 250mm [10"] and 3.6m long

I have made two stairways in the past but well spaced apart, one for my house about 45 years ago & another for my sons first house about 25 years ago, they were in Iroko & Pitch Pine respectively.

Thanks in advance for any info or advice.
John
 

johnnyb

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to me awo is hard and slightly unstable movement wise. euro oak at least the stuff I get is a bit nicer to work and the boards are less wasteful. I reckon its noticeably more stable. it finishes more yellow than awo. working with hand tools is a pipper with awo
 

MARK.B.

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European oak does tend to have more in the way of looks compared to awo which if i dare say it can be a bit bland looking .
Having said that i like the look of it on some things like bedroom furniture where you want the solid wood look but without it being dark,more minimalistic if that makes sense ???
 
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RobinBHM

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I am not sure what the pros & cons are of the two species so would like some comments of our knowledgable team !

The use will be an open plan staircase and have been looking at material for the strings, most suppliers only have 32mm thick, finished, I would prefer it to be 40/45mm and the only one I can find who supplies this is in American White Oak. The width is 250mm [10"] and 3.6m long

I have made two stairways in the past but well spaced apart, one for my house about 45 years ago & another for my sons first house about 25 years ago, they were in Iroko & Pitch Pine respectively.

Thanks in advance for any info or advice.
John
solid stair strings aren't so easy to get hold of.

I can't see many suppliers holding European oak sawn boards 10" wide ....and in reality it would need to be cut from a board probably 12" wide to get a board sap free on at least on face and one edge.

Iwood are quite a big player in Euro oak - they certainly do stair strings in 32mm finish - maybe it would be worth giving them a call - although Im not sure they would deliver to you.

In terms of choice - if you want a contemporary look, AWO will give a clean oak, but be aware sap is not a defect in US grading. If you want some character - i.e. Cats paw, irregular grain etc, Euro oak will give you that - although some European oak can be bland too.
 

Cabinetman

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My local Yard has 2 inch Waney edge boards, I was there the other day buying some, seem to remember they were all about 12 feet long but there may have been longer ones. PM me if interested as it’s the other side of the country to you. Ian
 

Cabinetman

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Article on here awhile ago asking the same question and some said it was the same wood and undetectably the same as European, but I had to disagree I have always found it to be carroty, Definitely not as nice to work. Ian
 

doctor Bob

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Article on here awhile ago asking the same question and some said it was the same wood and undetectably the same as European, but I had to disagree I have always found it to be carroty, Definitely not as nice to work. Ian
Yes I always consider AWO to be a ginger 😀
 

Renoj

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To reiterate what has been said American oak in my experience seems to have way more shakes in it. I spoke to the lumber yard about it and they said US yards kiln dry wood in huge batches and do it quicker than in Europe. They recommend European.
 

Doug71

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European is generally more interesting grain wise.

Not that it matters for your staircase but European is the better of the two for use externally as more stable and contains more tannins which the bugs don't like.

Because of the tannins European Oak is also better for fuming, not that I have ever tried it!
 

thetyreman

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I've found that AWO is very hard on the hardness scale, it can be much harder than english oak, especially when kiln dried, it can be a b ugger to work with hand tools.
 

Cabinetman

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I've found that AWO is very hard on the hardness scale, it can be much harder than english oak, especially when kiln dried, it can be a b ugger to work with hand tools.
Obviously things aren’t always the same but my experience is the exact opposite, then again it depends which bit of European oak you have in your hand some of it in my experience is quite soft and other bits, particularly darker brown bits can be really really hard and dense, so much so you imagine they could make claves from it. (Knocking sticks in an orchestra)
 

thetyreman

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Obviously things aren’t always the same but my experience is the exact opposite, then again it depends which bit of European oak you have in your hand some of it in my experience is quite soft and other bits, particularly darker brown bits can be really really hard and dense, so much so you imagine they could make claves from it. (Knocking sticks in an orchestra)
I've not had a huge amount of experience with english oak, the kiln dried american white oak was one of the hardest pieces of wood I've ever worked with, not sure why? even purpleheart and rosewood was softer, must have been a really weird piece I had, it may as well have been steel, I'd love to get hold of some english oak and try it out especially air dried stock.
 

redhunter350

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Thank you one and all for the input, pretty much confirms my own thoughts, however it seems impossible to obtain European Oak in the size required although one company has suggested jointing it but not too keen on that and for this application don't like the idea of engineered Oak.
Cabinet man thanks for the offer but at the moment travel is really impossible plus planing would be a problem for me/us [Sons staircase]
Stephen, son, has found a supplier of AWO who can supply what we need slightly undecided but this looks as though the way we will proceed.
Thanks again for you time and valuable input
John
 

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