Beech wood and Oakwood are two common types of hardwood that can be used for different purposes such as furniture making, cabinetry, flooring, etc. They are both excellent choices, but which is the better option for your woodwork project regarding availability, cost, appearance, durability, and hardness. Lastly, what can these two wood choices be used for?
Beech belongs to the Fagaceae family and is a genus of deciduous trees native to the temperate regions of Asia, North America, and Europe. They have a lifespan of 175 to 350 years and can reach a height of 50 to 70 feet.
Oak also belongs to the Fagaceae family, and they are trees or shrubs that belong to the genus Quercus. They are known for being strong woods and can reach 40 to 80 feet and 150 to 300 years old, with some surpassing 400 years.
One significant difference between both wood choices is their grain; Oakwood has a straight grain with an uneven and coarse texture, while Beechwood has a straight grain with a fine texture.
|Description||Beech Wood||Oak Wood|
|Wood Type||Beech wood is a hardwood.||Oakwood is a hardwood.|
|Color||The sapwood color is white and is easily discolored by fungal stain and oxidation. The heartwood color is reddish-brown with tiny pores.||Natural Oak wood can take on any hue virtually. The sapwood is light or golden brown, while the heartwood color ranges from pinkish-brown to red-brown with purple hints.|
|Grain||The grain of Beech wood is straight with a fine to medium texture and a moderate natural luster.||Oakwood is straight-grained with an uneven and coarse texture.|
|Density||Beech wood has a density of 700 to 900 lb/ft3.||Oakwood has a density of 600 to 900 lb/ft3.|
|Workability||Beech wood is considered an easy wood to work with; it glues, machines, and finishes nicely. It also responds excellently to steam bending, boring, planning, and turning.||Oakwood has good workability; it glues easily, works well with tools and machines, etc. English Oak responds well to steam bending but reacts badly to iron, especially when wet, and causes discoloration.|
|Toxicity||European Beech causes eye and skin reactions. It can also cause respiratory irritation when being worked on.||Oak is known to cause some common reactions such as skin and eye irritation and asthma-like symptoms.|
|Cost||Beech wood has a retail price of $6.29 per board foot.||White Oak is more expensive as it costs $9.99 per board foot, while Red Oak costs $5.49.|
Differences between Beech Wood and Oak Wood
Apart from what is written above, there are other differences between Beech and Oakwood, such as uses, hardness, and durability. They will be explained below.
Beech Wood Uses
- It works well for chair legs and backs because it responds well to steam bending.
- It is often used in the making of furniture and cabinetry.
- Beech wood is used to make sports equipment and cooking utensils.
- Beech timber is suitable for fuel and tool handles.
- It burns well, and that makes it excellent for firewood.
- European Beech is suitable for boatbuilding and musical instruments (piano pin blocks).
- Beech wood is durable enough for flooring.
Oak Wood Uses
- It is excellent for outdoor furniture (lounge chairs) and indoor furniture (wardrobes and beds).
- It is used for beams and structural frames, especially for wooden framed houses.
- It is used for veneer production, paneling, decking, flooring, deck railings, windows, and interior trims.
- Oak wood is used to make boats and barrels and caskets for wine.
- Oak wood is used for cabinetry, joinery, and crafting.
Durability is an essential factor to consider before purchasing any wood. This is because it determines the longevity of the wood; for example, wood with zero resistance to water and decay is not the best choice for outdoor purposes. Oakwood has the upper hand when it comes to durability.
Beachwood has some disadvantages that affect its durability. It is an excellent wood with a solid density; it wears well, has high abrasion resistance, and lasts against chipping, gouging, and pressure.
Unfortunately, this wood is not the best choice for exterior purposes. It has zero resistance to rot and begins to decay years after it comes in contact with soil and moisture. It is not resistant to moisture and tends to crack or warp if used without paint or polish. It is therefore considered non-durable.
Oakwood is considered to be highly durable and resists everyday wear and tear. It is an excellent choice for outdoor purposes; it resists absorption and warping when exposed to moisture, White Oak is termite-resistant, and the heartwood is resistant to decay. Although, Black and Red Oak attract termites.
Both wood choices are very strong; Beech has better bending characteristics, while White Oak has a medium crushing strength than Beech and Red Oak. American Beech has a Janka hardness of 1300 lbf (5,782 N) and European Beech, 1450 lbf (6,460 N). White Oak has a Janka hardness of 1350 lbf (5,990 N), and Red Oak has 1290 lbf (5,700 N).
Similarities between Beech Wood and Oak Wood
Both Beech and Oak belong to the Fagaceae family, which comprises about 927 species and is a family of flowering plants that are primarily deciduous in temperate regions and evergreen in tropical areas. They usually have toothed leaves arranged alternatively on the stem, and they provide high-quality lumber such as Chestnuts, Beeches, and Oaks.
Hardwood is wood from dicot trees primarily found in temperate and tropical forests. These woods are usually more durable than softwoods because they are obtained from broad-leaved and slow-growing trees. Beech and Oak are two types of hardwood, with Oak being more on the popular side.
Beech wood and Oakwood are excellent choices for your woodwork project, but as written above, Beech is better for indoor purposes while Oakwood is best for outdoor and indoor purposes. When it comes to choosing wood for furniture, Beech is barely used for making full furniture because of its appearance, so Oak is a much better option. For flooring, both options are perfect, but Beech wood tends to be on the higher side in terms of price.