Is Oak Wood Strong? — White Oak And Red Oak

If you buy something through our posts, we may get a small commission. Read more here.

Share It

Envision a beautifully crafted space adorned with sophisticated oak furniture. The detailed grain patterns and rich, warm colors come together to create an inviting atmosphere. But beyond its aesthetic appeal, is oak wood sturdy enough for a wide range of woodworking projects?

In this comprehensive guide, I’ll elaborate the unique properties of oak, highlighting its robustness and explaining why it is a preferred choice for many woodworking endeavors.

The Strength of Oak Wood

Oak is a highly favored type of wood utilized in producing flooring and furniture due to its impressive durability, strength, and aesthetic appeal. In addition, it has become renowned for its ability to resist wear and tear over extended periods and withstand heavy use.

Moreover, its natural resilience to damage makes it a highly sought-after choice for flooring in high-traffic areas, both in residential and commercial settings. Oak is classified as a hardwood notable for its exceptional dimensional stability and remarkable stiffness.

As a result, oak has firmly established itself as one of the top preferences that possess excellent physical properties, contributing to its widespread use in various industries.

oak wood log

The Oakwood family has two primary species: red oak and white oak. However, they differ significantly in terms of their strength, and each type possesses distinct characteristics that make it suitable for various applications.

These differences significantly impact the wood’s potential uses, with the stronger variant being ideal for heavy-duty purposes, such as furniture construction. At the same time, the weaker variation may be more appropriate for decorative or aesthetic purposes.

Thus, it is essential to understand the distinctions between these two types of Oak wood when selecting the appropriate material for a given project or application.

To gain a more comprehensive understanding of the differences between the two kinds of oak, below are scientifically-proven values that can provide valuable insights into each type of Oakwood’s unique characteristics and properties.

Scientific Values

Red Oak

White Oak


0.63 kilogram/m3

0.68 kilogram/m3


1.82 million pounds per square inch (Mpsi)

1.78 million pounds per square inch (Mpsi)

Compressive Strength

6760 pounds per square inch (psi)

7440 pounds per square inch (psi)

Bending Strength

14300 pounds per square inch (psi)

15200 pounds per square inch (psi)

Does Oak Wood Have Sufficient Strength for Furniture?

cutting oak wood

Oak is a durable wood material suitable for crafting furniture due to its remarkable strength, which can enhance the longevity and stability of the wooden furniture piece. Furthermore, oak wood is notably less expensive compared to other hardwoods in its classification.

However, applying an appropriate sealant is essential because it is prone to decay in high moisture and harsh conditions. In contrast, White Oak has moderate resistance to rot and decay.

Because of its high workability in addition to being a hardwood, oak wood is a well-liked option for crafting furniture. It is also a wood easily manipulated and fashioned by both power and hand tools, making it a versatile choice for furniture makers at all proficiency levels.

Whether intricate details are created by hand or precision cuts with advanced power tools, oak wood can fit any design. Its workability is attractive for furniture makers seeking a durable material adaptable to different design styles.

Thus, the following are various examples of furniture crafted from this type of wood to acknowledge the use of oak wood further.

Which Type of Oak Wood Is the Strongest?

measuring oak wood for furniture

White oak is considered one of the most resilient types of oak wood. Moreover, it is renowned for its exceptional strength, allowing it to resist substantial amounts of force without succumbing to damage.

Furthermore, embedding a ball made of steel halfway into the wood requires approximately 1,360 pounds force (lbf). Thus, this sturdiness highlights its durability and makes it a desirable choice for applications that demand a resilient material.

The high density and strong cell structure of white oak provide it with exceptional durability, allowing it to endure wear and tear effectively. This makes it a perfect choice for outdoor uses and high-traffic areas, especially when toughness and resilience are of utmost importance.

Pros And Cons of Oak Furniture

piling oak wood blocks

What i like

What i don't Like

Can Oak Wood Be Bent Without Breaking?

Regarding bending strength, red oak possesses 14300 pounds per square inch (psi), while white oak has 15200 pounds per square inch (psi). Thus, Oakwood is a sturdy and resilient material with impressive strength, making it capable of bending without breaking.

This is due to its high bending strength, which allows it to easily bend when subjected to certain treatments such as softening or steaming. Moreover, applying these techniques makes the oak wood more pliable and flexible, allowing it to bend without snapping or cracking.

Furthermore, oak wood’s bending strength makes it a valuable resource for various applications, as it can be easily shaped and molded to fit specific requirements. Its strength and durability make it a preferred choice for woodworking and construction projects.

Thus, due to its remarkable properties, oak wood is a strong wood that remains a popular option in various applications, including:

Does Oak Wood Possess Enough Strength as a Cutting Board?

gluing oak wood

Due to its strength, density, and hardness, Oak wood is an ideal material for making cutting boards that are durable and resilient. Moreover, oak wood’s inherent robustness and sturdiness make it a suitable choice for creating cutting boards that can withstand the rigors of daily use.

By using Oak wood, strong and long-lasting cutting boards can be crafted. However, oakwood cutting boards have an open pore grain, making them susceptible to bacterial development.

Since bacteria may accumulate inside the board over time due to the porous nature of the wood, it is crucial to take precautions to prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms. 

To avoid the accumulation of harmful bacteria, it is crucial to seal them appropriately before usage.

Thus, a suitable approach is to apply a food-safe wood finish such as walnut oil or linseed oil to the surface of the wood to seal it. This helps to avoid food particles from becoming stuck within the permeable structure of the grain.

The sealant fills the pores of the Oakwood, creating a smooth surface that is less prone to bacterial growth. Thus, I recommend sealing cutting boards made of oakwood with a food-safe oil before using them to ensure they remain sanitary and long-lasting.

making oak wood board

Can Oak Wood Be Used as Outdoor Furniture Pieces?

Red Oak and White Oak can withstand the demands of outdoor use due to their strength. Their durability and strength make them reliable options for various outdoor applications. Also, whether for building outdoor furniture, decks, or exterior siding, either type of oak can be suitable.

However, White Oak is more suitable for outdoor use than Red Oak [1] due to its higher density, toughness, stiffness, and weight. White Oak has a denser grain and lacks pores, which enhances its ability to resist water and moisture damage.

These characteristics are advantageous when utilizing White Oak outdoors, as they enhance its durability. However, using the appropriate sealant and stain to protect Oak wood from rotting when exposed to severe weather conditions is essential.

Failing to do so may lead to the wood becoming damaged. Therefore, to ensure protection from moisture damage, applying a suitable sealant and stain before keeping Oak wood outside to safeguard it from moisture damage is crucial.

Is Oak Considered Stronger Than Poplar?

Although poplar and oak are both types of hardwood, they differ significantly in several aspects. Poplar is noticeably lighter than oak and typically contains yellow and green streaks, whereas dark brown and black streaks characterize oak’s grain.

cutting huge oak wood

Regarding strength, oak is superior to poplar wood, particularly red and white oak. Both two species of Oak are higher in density, hardness, and strength than poplar. Oak is the more suitable choice for demanding applications due to its greater strength than poplar.

Thus, oak’s superior durability and capacity to withstand wear and tear make it a more dependable option than poplar when selecting wood for a task requiring strength and durability.


Red Oak

White Oak


Janka Hardness Rating

1290 pounds-force (lbf)

1360 pounds-force (lbf)

540 pounds-force (lbf)

Is Oak Considered Stronger Than Pine?

holding oak wood

When comparing oak wood to pinewood, oak typically possesses higher strength, density, and hardness. However, a specific specie of pine wood has greater strength than oak wood. Nonetheless, other pine wood species are still softer and weaker than oakwood.

If the key considerations in the wood selection are strength and durability, then pine would be the preferred option. However, oak wood would be more appropriate for applications that require a combination of strength and hardness.


Red Oak

White Oak

Yellow Pine

White Pine

Sugar Pine


6760 pounds per square inch (psi)

7440 pounds per square inch (psi)

8470 pounds per square inch (psi)

4800 pounds per square inch (psi)

4460 pounds per square inch (psi)

Is Oak Considered Stronger Than Maple?

When it comes to woodworking, maple and oak are among the best materials to use due to their durability and strength. Maple is an incredibly sturdy and long-lasting natural wood option known for its high resistance to dents.

Moreover, it is regarded as one of the strongest types of wood available. Although oak is also a hardwood, maple is slightly stronger than oak as a hardwood material. To have a better picture with regards to their difference, below are their compressive strengths:


Red Oak

White Oak

Soft Maple

Hard Maple


6760 pounds per square inch (psi)

7440 pounds per square inch (psi)

6540 pounds per square inch (psi)

7830 pounds per square inch (psi)

Is Oak Considered Stronger Than Birch?

drilling oak wood

While oak is already a strong wood, birch is marginally stronger than oak, making it a better option for tasks requiring higher strength levels than oak wood.

Nonetheless, it is crucial to acknowledge that both birch and oak have distinct characteristics and benefits. Therefore, when selecting wood, it is essential to consider the particular application and context in which it will be used.


Red Oak

White Oak



6760 pounds per square inch (psi)

7440 pounds per square inch (psi)

8170 pounds per square inch (psi)

Is Oak Considered Stronger Than Hickory?

sawing oak wood

In terms of strength, hickory wood outperforms oak wood. This implies that hickory is more suitable for heavy-duty tasks requiring high strength than oak.

Hickory is a dense hardwood renowned for its exceptional shock resistance, making it an ideal option for projects requiring robust and durable materials.

Nevertheless, besides strength, there are other essential factors to consider when choosing wood for a specific purpose, such as the wood’s cost, availability, and aesthetic appeal. These factors can also influence the final decision.


Red Oak

White Oak


Compressive Strength

6760 pounds per square inch (psi)

7440 pounds per square inch (psi)

9210 pounds per square inch (psi)


White Oak and Red Oak stand out for their strength and durability, making them popular choices in both construction and woodworking. Their resilience to wear and tear, coupled with their ability to withstand outdoor conditions, adds to their appeal.

Nonetheless, it’s important to note that the strength of oak wood can vary based on different factors. Despite these potential variations, oak wood maintains a strong and dependable reputation, proving suitable for a wide array of applications.

Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You've probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.
Robert Johnson

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Articles
Join our community on facebook and get 3 woodworking plans for free!

Join Our Woodworking Community on Facebook And Get 3 Woodworking Plans for Free!