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SHEOAK

botanical name uncertain

There are at least 3 dozen species, split pretty much evenly between the two genera Casuarina and Allocasuarina that have the word sheoak as all or part of one or more of their common names and I have no idea which of them are represented on this page except as specifically stated with some of the pics. It appears that they are all native to Australia.

Sheoak is a group of species and "lace" is a figure pattern that occurs in about 1 out of 100 sheoak trees, or so I've been told. The "1 out of 100" seems more anecdotal than hard statistics, but certainly the lace figure is fairly rare. and while "normal" sheoak is an attractive wood, lace sheoak is a real stand-out and is what most people associate with the name sheoak.

Given the large number of species that use the name sheoak, it is unlikely that "sheoak" woods will all look the same and they may well look quite different.

Sheoak is NOT, by the way, related to oak at all, that's just an accident of the name.

I have it anecdotally that the reason for the name sheoak is that this wood is one of the ones that early settlers decided to call "oak" but it is not nearly as strong as regular oak and thus was named "she" oak, meaning "weak" oak.

my samples:

NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR
3 views of a sheoak turning with each view showing 2 pics taken 9 years apart. Details and enlargements of each view are shown at the bottom of this page; this is here just to show how the color darkens with age. The upper (earlier) set is just slightly too light in color and not quite as red as it should be. The piece is finished with several coats of polyurethane. The original wood was lighter (and of course not shiny) than the upper pics.


small piece and end grain


end grain closeup of the piece directly above --- this clearly shows the relatively massive rays (perpendicular to the grain) that allow sheoak to have such an interesting surface pattern when rift cut or quartersawn.


small piece and end grain --- this piece has been oiled, which as you can see deepens the color, especially on the end grain.

No color correction was used --- the color is quite accurate, but compare the relatively uninteresting figure here to that shown at the bottom of this page in the turning sample which is from the same piece of wood as the first sample shown here.


a piece of Baker's oak (also called sheoak) / Allocasuarina torulosa contributed to the site by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions. I carefully measured and weighed this piece and it's 68lbs/cuft --- a very heavy wood. the 2nd side is sanded to 400 grit and feels like glass even at that relatively coarse grit. Looking at the size of the rays on this I REALLY wish I had a piece of pure quartersawn; the ray flakes would be amazing.


the unsanded face and end grain and then the sanded face and end grain


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the sanded end


both sides of a sample plank of drooping sheoak / Allocasuarina verticillata --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE and side grain closeup (including part of the face grain) from the piece directly above. I took the side grain shot because it shows the long ray sections that would show up as strong ray flakes on a quartersawn surface (this edge is just rift cut, so they are not large)


both sides of a sample plank of drooping sheoak / Casuarina stricta --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Casuarina stricta is a synonym of Allocasuarina stricta


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of drooping river sheoak / Casuarina cunninghamiana --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE and face grain closeup from directly above. If you look at the enlargements of the end grain, you'll see that some of the rays are in tight groups that sometimes diverge slightly from each other. This is different than multiseriate rays, which are all one single construct, but rather it is several rays very close to each other. When they diverge, the resulting ray flakes can look broken up, and this happens rarely enough that I thought it would be interesting to show this example, which you can see clearly in the enlargements of the face grain closeup.


both sides of a sample plank of bull-oak (aka bull sheoak) / Allocasuarina luehmannii --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The difference in color between the two sides is because the labeled side has a slightly dull patina whereas the second side is freshly sanded to 240 grit and has a glass-like finish (this wood is very dense/heavy)


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above





some sheoak pics contributed to the site by Paul McGee, whom I thank.

web pics:


planks not labeled "lace"


although labeled sheoak, this looks to me much more like hairy oak (which of course HAS "sheoak" as one of its common names --- Australian wood are such fun)


both sides and a closeup of a plank labeled "lace" and with a color that is just silly


plank listed as lace --- this one is a PERFECT example of the way that the figure can sometimes resemble a tangle of coarse fibers



planks, all labeled as "lace"


lacy sheoak plank; both sides and closeup


two lacy sheoak planks --- both sides of each and a closeup of one of them


lace sheoak slab


lace sheoak turning sticks


"light" sheoak


"dark" sheoak


pics provided by Todd Levy of what he classifies as "lacy" sheoak, although it does not seem to have the lacy figure shown in most of the other pics here of lacy sheoak.


sets of pen blanks that have all been oiled and waxed --- the enlargement of the first of these really shows nicely some particularly attractive characteristic grain pattern of the lace figure


lace sheoak pen blanks --- I think the color on these is likely more bright than the actual wood.


pen blanks listed as "bird's eye sheoak" but it looks to me that this is just an interesting cut of lace sheoak and certainly is not formed in any way similar to what is normally meant by "bird's eye" figure.





sheoak bowl


bowls made from lace sheoak


6" lace sheoak bowl by Steve Earis


lace sheoak knife handles


some views of a lace sheoak box and some of the planks it was made from. These pics were contributed by the box's builder, Al Kalian, thanks to whose excellent photography HUGE enlargements are present. Thanks A1; beautiful box !





A single turning sample showing various facets of sheoak grain. No color correction was used and the color is just slightly more red than the wood. The polyurethane finish (several coats) really serves to bring out the color and the grain contrast in this very interesting wood. As in many woods with prominent rays, if you give it a high gloss finish then the grain contrast shifts dramatically as you move the wood --- the parts that are light become dark and the parts that are dark become light. I just took this turning out again after 9 years and as you can see below, it has darkened considerably even though it was not exposed to much light (it spent most of those years in a box.

same turning as above but darked after 9 years (mostly inside a closed box but it was exposed to a small amount of indirect sunlight for a while)