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Native California Hardwood Species

Source: Hardwoods of the Pacific Northwest, Niemiec, et. al. Forest Research Laboratory, Oregon State University, 1995. Further information:

Tanoak
Lithocarpus
densiflorus
Tannoaksm.JPG (2680 bytes)

Tanoak is a hard, heavy wood that in many ways resembles the true oaks; thus, tanoak is often included in lumber from western oak species.  The wood is a light, reddish brown color when freshly cut, but it ages to a tannish, reddish-brown.  The sapwood is very wide and is difficult to distinguish from the heartwood.  There are broad rays which are conspicuous on quartersawn surfaces.  Tanoak is highly rated for hardness, resistance to abrasion, stiffness, and bending strengths. Machinability is comparable or better than commercial eastern oaks.   Tanoak finishes well because of its uniform color and is used for flooring, furniture, pallets, veneer, and paneling.   Clear-coated flooring products made from tanoak have a warm, pleasant, appearance. Oregon Wood Innovation Center

California
Black Oak

Quercus
kelloggii
sblackoak.JPG (4477 bytes)

Black oak heartwood is light brown with pink to pale reddish-brown color; the sapwood is a pale yellowish-white to brownish-white.  California black oak is a ring-porous wood, with distinct early wood pores that form a conspicuous band with each growth ring.   Among the red oaks, California black oak has one of the lowest percentages of summer wood.  The wood is fairly fine-grained.  Rays are numerous, short in height, and wide.  California black oak is classified as a red oak in USDA Forest Service nomenclature.  The machining characteristics of black oak are excellent.  Feed speeds can be greater than for other oaks and still produce quality surfaces when planing, shaping, turning, boring, and sanding.  The wood can be successfully bent when properly steamed.  Black oak finishes well.    Heartwood/sapwood color variation is distinct.  Black oak is used for moulding, millwork, paneling, furniture, flooring, veneer, and pallets and edge-glued panels.

Oregon Wood Innovation Center

Pacific
Madrone
Arbutus
menziesii
smadrone.JPG (2577 bytes)

Pacific madone is a hard, heavy wood with a fine grain and uniform texture.  The sapwood is white or cream-colored with a pinkish tinge; the heartwood is a light reddish-brown.  Pacific Madrone is diffuse porous; the pores are nearly uniform, numerous, and minute.  Rays range from barely visible to readily visible.   Pacific Madrone has good strenth properties and for most of its uses (flooring and furniture), its resistance to indentation and abrasion is very high.  Pacific madrone has exceptional resistance to breakage, making it suitable for joinery.  Because of its hardness, nailing is difficult and splitting is likely unless the wood is pre-bored.   Madrone ranks highest (fewest machining defects) among all the hardwoods of the Pacific Northwest for planing, shaping, boring, and turning.   Its high density requires caution to prevent over-feeding.  Pacific madrone finshes well, without the need to fill the grain and can be successfully ebonized.

Oregon Wood Innovation Center

Oregon
White Oak

Quercus
garryana
swhiteoak.JPG (3812 bytes)

Oregon white oad is a hard, heavy wood that has distinct growth rings and very prominent rays.  The sapwood is whitish to light brown; the heartwood is a pale, yellowish, grey-brown, often with a slight greenish cast.  It is ring-porous.   Rays are of two types, broad and narrow.  When quartersawn the broad rays appear as a pronounced fleck.  Oregon white oak is classified with the other white oaks in USDA Forest Service nomenclature.  The wood of Oregon white oak has exceptional strength properties and is noted for its hardness, toughness, resiliency, and resistance to abrasion.  It hold nails well, but because of its density and hardness it will split without preboring.  Species in the white oak group, including Oregon white oak, generally machine well.  They plane, turn, mortise and bore well.   White oaks also bend exceptionally well.  Care should be taken not to over-feed this wood.  All white oaks finish well although it may be necessary to fill the grain.  Oregon white oak heartwod is resistant to decay.  Oregon white oak is used for furniture, flooring, cooperage, turnings, veneer, millwork, fence posts, handles, boxes, and pallets.

Oregon Wood Innovation Center

Claro
Walnut

Juglans
hindsii
scaliforniawalnut.JPG (4300 bytes)

Working Properties: Black walnut is straight grained and easily worked with hand tools and by machine. It finishes beautifully and holds paint and stain exceptionally well. It also glues and polishes well.
Durability: Rated as very resistant to heartwood decay—one of the most durable woods, even under conditions favorable to decay.
Uses: Furniture, fixtures, cabinets, gunstocks, novelties, interior paneling, veneer.

source: USDA Wood technical fact sheet (not included in Pacific Hardwoods of the Northwest)

USDA: Technical fact sheet

Giant
Chinkapin

Castanopsis
chrysophylla
scaliforniawalnut.JPG (4300 bytes)

The wood of giant chinkapin, also known as Goldenleaf chestnut, is of moderately fine texture and is moderately hard and heavy.  the thin sapwood is the same color or slightly lighter than the light brown, pinkish-tinged heartwood.  It is a ring-porous wood with large earlywood pores.   Rays are barely visible with a hand lens.  Chinkapin is most often used for fine furniture or exceptional paneling, and performs well in these applications if furniture is properly designed.  Chinkapin machines comparably to walnut, red alder, and maple.  There are no difficulites in staining or coating this wood.  Related to the American chestnut (now endangered by the chestnut blight endothia parasitica), chinkapin is used for furniture, veneer, paneling, and doors.

Oregon Wood Innovation Center

California Bay Laurel
Umbellularia californica
Pepperwood

California-laurel (often known as Pepperwood) is a moderately heavy, moderately hard wood with an even texture and a fine grain. The sapwood is whitish to light brown and typically thick. The heartwood is light brown or greyish-brown, frequently with darker streaks of pigment figure. The growth rings are distinct and can be delineated by a dark band of denser latewood. The wood is diffuse porous, with evenly distributed, distant small pores that are barely visible to the naked eye. These pores are either solitary or in groups of two or three, and are encircled by a whitish sheath. The fine rays require a hand lens to see. When freshly cut, the wood has a very characteristic spicy odor, but its volitile oils impart no taste to the wood. Burls are sometimes produced and some of the wood has interlocked grain. When soaked in water, the wood darkens appreciably. Oregon Wood Innovation Center

Bigleaf
Maple

Acer
macrophyllum

The wood from bigleaf maple is fine-grained and of moderate weight and hardness.   The sapwood is reddish-white, sometimes with a grayish cast; the heartwood is light pinkish-brown.  Bigleaf maple is diffuse porous and pores are moderately small to medium in size.  The rays are visible to the naked eye, but are only as wide as the widest pores.  Although much of the wood is straight-grained, some highly figured wood includes wavy, quilted, fiddle-back, or burl grain patterns is also produced.  The strength properties of bigleaf maple are exceptionally good considering its intermediate specific gravity.  While not as strong as the eastern hard maples, it performs better in most tests thatn the soft maples, and is suitable for most furniture design applications.  Bigleaf maple retains many of the favorable machining (planing, shaping, boring, and turning) characteristics of the eastern hard maples, while allowing for greater production feed rates because of its lower density.   Bigleaf maple finishes well and there is no need to fill the grain.  Bigleaf maple is used for furniture, veneer, paneling, and turnery.

Oregon Wood Innovation Center


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