Phil Fenwick has been Baillie Lumber’s Director of Asia Sales for many years. 18 AMERICAN HARDWOOD Southeast Asia Supplement 2018 Q: As a producer of red oak lumber what do you see as the main differences to white oak? A: The difference between red oak and white oak is that it comes down to texture and colour. The tubules of white oak are closed, whereas the red oak tubules are open – giving a little bit more of a rougher appearance of the grain. In general the other main difference is there are typically ranges of colour in red oak, such as tan or wheat all theway to a deep red. White oak tends to bemostly tan or almost brown in colour. Sometimes it is hard to distinguish white oak from red oak, especially if the red oak is more northern due to the very light colour and appearance. Q: How does red oak perform in flooring and furniture? A: Red oak performs extremely well in flooring and furniture. In the U.S. this has been one of the main species used for flooring for many generations. It is very common that in older homes in the U.S. owners find numerous different styles and widths of red oak flooring. Often when a home owner pulls up an old carpet in a house they are pleased to find red oak floors that they can refinish. Other aspects of red oak are that it tends to be very steady and sands and finishes well. Also, since red oak is an open grain species, when finish is applied it seems to be a little bit more forgiving and blemishes appear to blend because of the open grain appearance. Q: In those export markets where you sell red oak, what is the main reason your customers prefer red to white oak? A: In most cases, we sell red oak into the markets we do because it is a species requested. The end products factories are producing specify red oak as the material of choice. Many times it is because the products produced are intended for a customer segment that prefers the look and feel of red oak. For example, the red oak furniture manufactured in Asia matches up nicely with the red oak cabinets and floors one would find in many homes in the U.S., therefore creating more demand. Another reason that some markets, such as China, tend to buy red oak is because they like the flexibility the open grain appearance provides in manufacturing because it is similar to some of the northern white ash and white oak species that they tend to work with as well. Q: In terms of the resource what are the pressure on northern red oak? A: Red oak growsmore abundantly than any other species inNorth America. It is the predominant species in the entire Appalachian region. Additionally, it is not under attack by any invasive bugs (at the moment). Unlike white ash, white oak, and walnut – which are all battling challenges. Q: Can you say something about the grades of red oak and how they might differ from the grades of other species – if at all? A: With regard to the grading of red oak compared to other species, there really is limited to no difference – the grades are all the same. However, what can be a consideration for customers is the special sorts that can be requested. We work withmany customers that will request a certain colour sort, width sort or even a length sort that works particularly well in their manufacturing process. Q: What is the lowest grade you export? A: We find that the grades we export are no different from those we offer in North America. The standard industry grades of FAS/1F (prime), 1C and 2C are all regularly requested. Occasionally we will export 3C or a Frame Stock grade, but that is not very common.