Reply by Fraxinus

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Posted on Beech vs White Oak

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25 posts in 1246 days

#1 posted 07-24-2016 05:54 AM

I’m a newbie woodworker, only really got into it in January, but have been absolutely obsessed with woodworking since then. Mostly use hand tools. Started building a Moravian workbench in May, and now I’m finally a few days from finishing it. The top is a 2-5/8” thick, 14-1/4” wide, 79-1/4” long slab of Oregon white oak (Q. garryana) that I got from a local guy. Janka hardness is 1640.

This is a different species than the usual white oak (Q. alba), but sounds like working it by hand is similar. The slab has a fair number of knots and I got tons of tearout while I was flattening it, no matter which direction I went or how recently I had sharpened the iron. My Stanley 30 jointer plane can’t handle it, all I get is chatter (probably needs tuning, but this plane works fine on Douglas-fir, maple, and walnut). My Stanley #5 does OK with it as long as the iron is freshly sharpened, but it was definitely work getting the slab flat.

I added breadboards using a tongue and groove. If I had known how hard it was going to be to work the end grain of the oak, I may have left them off. It was a real bear.

All the tools I used had to be as sharp as I could get them to work adequately on the oak slab. And I’m not sure what I could have done to avoid the tear out while flattening it, I tried everything I could think of.

For the most part I’m happy with how it turned out, but it was a serious pain in the butt to get it there.

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