Being a hard, heavy wood it is perhaps surprising that American Oak is low in stiffness and can be bent into shapes desired, most often by steam bending. This quality previously made the timber ideal for ship building, but today this is more used for architectural uses as well as luxury staircases.
American White Oak grows mainly in the Eastern United States of American and Canada, although can grow commercially as far West as Texas and Minnesota. The tree reaches a height of around sixty to eighty-five feet (twenty to twenty five meters), but the trees true size is its in branch spread which can grow as wide as it is height. Having a light grey bark gives it the name White Oak, along with the light brown timber.
One special property of White Oak, not found in its red cousin, is being impervious to water. This has made the timber ideal for shipbuilding and wine barrels, and now makes it useful for outdoor furniture. This is due to cellular structures named tyloses that make a structure without gaps for water to pass through.
Furniture manufactures mostly buy American White Oak as a square edged, rough sawn board which has been kiln dried before being exported from North America. It is sold usually in thicknesses of 1' to 3', although thicknesses greater than this are available, and is available in a wide variety of widths and lengths. Widths are usually 4' to 9', although 10' and wider is available at higher prices, while lengths can be as long as 14' but 8', 10' and 12' is more common.
Timber products made from American White Oak are also used: panels made from staves of American White Oak are sometimes used by furniture manufacturers, particularly for cabinets and doors, while blanks, often two part but matched grain, are used for staircase spindles and newels.
Furniture styles made from oak include dark stained regal designs, designed to emulate royal courts, to light unstained designs which give a natural feel. Table and chair sets are popular, as well as full-oak kitchens, beds and bedroom chests and wardrobes.
The only negative qualities associated with American White Oak are its reactions to non-galvanised ferrous metals, such as iron, can stain and corrode the timber. It is recommended that an alternative metal such as stainless steal or brass is used. The timber also is not ideal for gluing, although this is not impossible.