Beech vs White Oak

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Forum topic by Ray posted 07-23-2016 03:08 AM 978 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Ray's profile


126 posts in 2514 days

07-23-2016 03:08 AM

I recently flattened my Beech workbench and I am now trying to flatten some White Oak. According to the hardness chart I read, they are almost equal. 1300 vs 1360. I have found that the oak is much more difficult to work-almost ready to give up.

What has been your experience?
Any comments?
Tips, recommendations?



-- Creating less fire wood every day

3 replies so far

View DirtyMike's profile


637 posts in 1413 days

#1 posted 07-23-2016 03:51 AM

I believe that is just the nature of white oak, i wont touch it with hand tools. I don’t care for oak because of the kitchen cabinets from the 90s. The tearout on oak is terrible for me when trying to hand plane it. good luck

View Fraxinus's profile


25 posts in 1242 days

#2 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.

View HokieKen's profile


10947 posts in 1649 days

#3 posted 07-24-2016 04:43 PM

White Oak is tough because of the open and often wild grain. Your tools need to be SHARP and you have to pay VERY close attention to grain direction. Low angle planes are helpful on the really gnarly spots and scraping is the best way to go if you don’t need to remove material.

-- Kenny, SW VA, Go Hokies!!!

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