Oak is among the most beautiful woods for all kinds of woodworking projects. It’s known for being hard, durable, and when finished properly, it can look amazing! However, if you haven’t heard it yet, woodworking with oak can be a royal pain.
Fear not! If you’re really up to the challenge, there are a few things you can do to help give you the results you want with minimal effort.
Types of Oak
There’s a lot of difference among oak species. For example, European oak’s usually of a higher grade than the American variety that even churches and boats since the olden days have primarily used it. English oak has always been known to be durable and beautiful; nowadays, varying strengths among the species is readily available. American oak on the other hand, doesn’t always have the best remarks. In some cases however, the American white oak is favored over the red oak because the latter tends to shrink since it has open grains which make it porous. In contrast, white oak has tighter grains and is almost resistant to water.
Woodworking with Oak
Now that you’ve learned a bit about the differences among the varieties, the first rule is remembering that when working with this kind of wood, you need to have a lot of patience. Oak requires more of finesse than just relying on brute strength. To give you a better idea, when you’re routing the edge of the wood, rather than going through its entire profile in a single pass, it’s actually better to cut it in two or even do three passes. Because of its graining, oak easily chips or splits when you’re routing its edges and you’ll end up removing unnecessary chunks of the material rather than a few tiny chips. This result may oftentimes be frustrating.
The second tip if you’re working with oak is always ensure that all of your tools are very sharp. Since oak’s a hardwood, it can easily dull tools more often than other materials so, always ensure that your woodworking tools have been finely sharpened each time you work with oak.
Oak also has a record for being susceptible to burning so aside from keeping all of your woodworking tools at their sharpest, have operating tools like the router bit modified at the appropriate speed to prevent this problem.
Most woodworkers prefer to have a minimal finish to fully show off the oak’s character. Anyone who’d opt for the minimalist approach should also consider taking time in sanding. You should use fine-gritted sandpaper and do progressive work to prevent getting sanding lines. As for the shellac, it’s commonly used to seal the oak. In most cases, you can apply the shellac after oil staining to seal its color better. Once you’ve done this, you can just cover up visible blemishes with the help of a grain filler paste, to be followed by the gel stain. The final touch you can do when woodworking with oak is usually an application of a few polyurethane coats to perfect the look.
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