The hardwood forests of the eastern United States
People are drawn to wood for its warmth, tactility, smell and, increasingly, its impressive sustainability credentials. As a raw material, it can be transformed into beautiful and functional furniture, objects and architecture that act as a carbon store. It is precisely because of wood’s unique environmental benefits that we should not only be using more of it but also focusing on embracing all the timbers available to us, not just those deemed popular or fashionable. Wood is so much more than a single material, there are hundreds of species to choose from, each with their own unique characteristics and properties. Hardwoods are particularly exciting for designers and architects because they can offer high levels of performance combined with a strong aesthetic. This competition for young designers challenges them to explore the potential of red oak, the most abundant hardwood species in the vast natural forests of the Eastern USA, accounting for nearly one fifth of all standing volume.
Here you could find “American hardwood species guide” link.
Learn about the Red Oak.
OTHER COMMON NAMES: Red oak
LATIN NAME: Quercus spp, principalmente Quercus rubra
This vast hardwood resource is expanding at the rate of 150 million m3 a year that’s equivalent to the volume of seven Olympic sized swimming pools every hour! Each year, the volume of red oak in U.S. forests grows on average by 55 million m3, of which only 34 million m3 is harvested. This means the volume standing in U.S. hardwood forests is expanding by 21 million m3 per year.
Hardwood trees such as red oak, are not planted so they don’t grow in straight lines they are naturally regenerated through seed dispersal, carried by animals or where the wind distributes them. Once trees have been selectively harvested, the forest must be managed to maximise the opportunity for wildlife and biodiversity, as well as to nurture high-value timber material for the future. If they are looked after and used efficiently, these hardwood resources can not only continue to absorb Co2 from the atmosphere, but they can provide us with a long-term supply of good-looking, high-performance materials, that store up that carbon while in use. So, the more sustainably sourced wood, such as red oak, we can use in product and building design, the faster we will be able to reduce global carbon emissions.
Thicker lumber (10/4″ & 12/4″) can be sourced in relatively small volumes from specialist suppliers, but is widely produced through out the hardwood industry from 4/4″ (25.4mm) through to 8/4″ (52mm)
In the north, the sapwood tends to be less due to the shorter growing season, than in the south where the wood is grown faster with more open grain and texture.
- In general, the sapwood of red oaks is light brown and the heartwood is often, but not always, pinkish to reddish brown. The colour difference between the sapwood and heartwood is quite distinct.
- The wood is figured with medullary rays.
- The wood is porous, and easily identified from the end grain, so not suitable for wine barrels.
- The wood is hard and heavy with medium bending strength, stiffness and high crushing strength. It has excellent steam bending capability. Being hard, stable when dry and easy to finish and stain, it is ideal for furniture and flooring.
Here some links where you could find more information about the environmental profile of this hard wood:
If you want to know more about the environmental profile of American hardwoods click in this link. For all those who go to compete it is very valuable information that you can use in your project.
You can also download the publication “Wood of American hardwoods for structural use” where you will have more information about the mechanical properties.