The heartwood is light reddish-tan. The sapwood, usually about 2 inches wide, is almost white in color. Like most oaks, the rays are prominent, but they are generally
shorter, narrower and darker in color than those of white oak. As a result, quartersawn northern red oak is far less showy.
This species is hard, but it machines reasonably well for
a ring-porous wood. Because of the prominent rays, care should be taken
to segregate quartersawn and flatsawn stock using on or the other consistently
in a given project. Otherwise, once stained, edge-glued seams will become
glaringly obvious. Like other oaks, its high tannin
content can be irritating to the skin. These same features,
however, while potentially negative, offer great flexibility with respect
to the types of finishes which can be achieved. Due to its exceptionally
open grain, use of a light-colored filler followed by a darker stain produces
the once popular limed look. The high tannin content allows it to be ammonia
fumed to an almost black "Jacobean" finish. Also, careful selection of quartersawn
stock yields a ray-dominated look that is truly unique.
For mine timbers, cabinetry, flooring, millwork, plywood, railroad ties and many other purposes.