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Author Topic: What happened to the red oak market?  (Read 786 times)

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Offline postville

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What happened to the red oak market?
« on: November 21, 2020, 07:02:38 PM »
I had a buyer look at my timber property which is loaded with mature red oak. The price offered was $300/mbf at the landing and there was no grading. Veneer went for the same price as tie logs.
What happened? When I started in 1975 there was a strong market for red oak veneer and number 1 saw logs were $350/mbf. Anyone know what happened? Is there a projection if this market will ever come back?
Bob
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2020, 07:08:41 PM »
I hope you told him to pith on it.  
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Offline stavebuyer

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2020, 07:16:44 PM »
The market collapsed with the China trade war. Its been recovering the last couple months. Get a second opinion; its worth more than 300 if you have some good logs in it.

Offline nativewolf

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2020, 08:08:30 PM »
$1600 (doyle) + for veneer logs, $600-700 for good second logs (3 side clear sort of thing).  We are getting $650/MBF (international) for long red oak bridge timber logs if you have ro 15" at the end of a 30' stick.  
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Offline firefighter ontheside

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2020, 10:00:29 PM »
Growing up, I remember knowing that the earmark for a really fancy house was that it had red oak everywhere.  Red oak floor, red oak trim, red oak cabinets, etc.  My dad was a carpenter at the time and he would tell me about the jobs he had done with red oak.  As an adult I worked part time as a finish carpenter for the same company.  I never touched a piece of red oak.  Everything was painted white.  I feel like that has had a part in lowering the value of red oak.  Of course, now that I'm a woodworker I know the value of other woods like walnut and of course the exotics like pauduk and the like.  I've been milling and selling wood for a few years and no one has asked for red oak.  
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #5 on: November 22, 2020, 09:32:56 AM »
Yeah i do recall average decent furniture, tables cabinets, hutches, book cases and so forth were all awful heavy and often reddish.  Up until the 2000s when it all went to some form of laminated MDF.  That has to trickle down to the log price eventually.  

I guess the good side of it is the low price will have a recovery trend.  A forest full of straight, mature red oaks is something special.

I took a closer look at the wood ive sawn and as stavebuyer recently mentioned, i see now the RO in my area is pretty poor.  Ive been scrutinizing it pretty hard in the woodlot lately.  Any that are left will be some fine trees when my kids are old. 
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Offline Ron Wenrich

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2020, 11:07:51 AM »
I remember when red oak was considered junk wood.  When I first started working for a sawmill, we sawed all our red oak into casket lumber.  There simply was no market for red oak.  Our big market was tulip poplar.  We sat outside the maple belt, so we sawed millions of feet of tulip poplar.  There were large demands for poplar in Europe.  When I started to buy timber for the mill, I was told to stay away from red oak.  White oak was okay.  We even tried the tie market for ties and that was limited in demand.  

Those markets changed in the mid to late '70s.  Red oak started to catch on as the market changed from the dense grained woods like maple and birch to the open grained species of red oak.  That has pretty much stayed the same with a more recent upsurge in the maples.  I haven't been around prices for a long time, so I'm not sure what the price structure is like at present.  

It was explained to me that there is about a 30 yr cycle between the dense and the open grained hardwoods.  I'm not sure of the reason, but I always assumed that it was generational.  The current generation always wanted what the grandparents had and not what they grew up with.  Its why the oak furniture from the '20s & '30s wasn't popular with the WWII generation, but found a new market in the boomers.  

The current market was supported a great deal with China.  My understanding is that they are now allowed home ownership.  The darker woods break up all the white wood they have in China.  It also has an impact on the walnut market.  The cherry market was buoyed up in the '80s-'90s when Europe stopped buying tropical hardwoods.  Cherry was used as an alternative to mahogany due to workability and availability.
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Offline Trackerbuddy

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2020, 11:13:20 AM »
You aren't alone a friend in northern Wisconsin couldn't get a $1/bdft sawn and air dried. So he made firewood out of the rest of it. And it's not just local a mill I work with in KY can't find buyers for their red oak

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #8 on: November 22, 2020, 01:48:48 PM »
Thanks for the replies. I will call another buyer to see what they offer.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful to have a patch of timber to work in. It has been a great fall for logging. Bob
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #9 on: November 22, 2020, 02:09:33 PM »
In 2017 and 2018, $300/mbf was the low end of what i got pretty easily on 12" and better DIB red oak 0 side clear tie logs 9'3 and up.  11" if really straight and round.

I always struggled to break $450, 475 on bigger cleaner RO though.  Could sell all you wanted if you let them call it a tie though. Go figure.


Thats a pretty good theory on the generational skip.  All the grandparent names have come back. Moms named jen having daughters name estelle. 
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Offline Clark

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2020, 07:27:31 AM »
Thanks for the replies. I will call another buyer to see what they offer.
Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving. I am grateful to have a patch of timber to work in. It has been a great fall for logging. Bob
You’re in good red oak country. You should get multiple offers on price or just have a consulting forester do the leg work for you.

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Offline PoginyHill

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2020, 07:55:19 AM »
The drop in oak demand over last decade or two - whether veneer or saw logs (veneer and lumber demand generally go up and down together as they are complementary in cabinets and furniture), I think is generational as has been mentioned. The mill I work at ran 95% red oak veneer in the mid 90's. Now oak represents under 25%. During that time, maple has taken up much of that volume (China imports is also a factor). Most new construction is more likely to be trimmed with maple. Oak trim, cabinets, and furniture is not as common as it once was. Birch has always been the mainstay of veneer production and remains still. Nearly all rotary veneer doors (institutional like hospitals, universities, office buildings) are still birch, mostly "natural" grade, containing both heart and sapwood. But maple has started to creep into the door market as well. (Why do random phrases show up in large font? I don't type it that way!)
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2020, 08:24:47 AM »
Does red maple have any hope of a future boom? Its white and easy to work from what i can tell. 
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Offline PoginyHill

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2020, 08:38:29 AM »
Red maple has been subbed very sporadically for hard maple over the years, but its sapwood is more yellow or cream colored. Snow white maple sapwood is the preference. Sugar/hard maple is best for that. Also, red maple tends to have larger hearts. With maple, it's generally the sapwood that carries the day.
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Offline stavebuyer

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2020, 03:37:08 PM »
Does red maple have any hope of a future boom? Its white and easy to work from what i can tell.
Mike there is a good grade market for Red(soft) maple however southern logs tend be "wormy" and most soft maple orders are filled from the northern states. 
In TN Lazy Boy( right in your backyard) buys a world of southern soft maple for covered furniture frame stock but they only buy lumber and not logs.

Offline mike_belben

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #15 on: November 23, 2020, 06:54:30 PM »
Good tip, i will keep that in mind.  I love a wormy maple floor.   

None of mine are very big, maybe one or two in the 18" dbh range tops..  but they grow like wildfire here.  I have to cut back the maple brush 3x before a new oak sprout makes it to shoulder height. 

Best i ever got for RM was $300mbf.. Just never could find a nearby market for it so it usually comes home for FW.  
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Offline Banjo picker

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2020, 07:49:43 PM »
I am charging $2.00 a BF for green red oak lumber.  Mostly 2 x 8 s   2 x 10 s and some 2 x 12s   Length is usually 14 or 16 ft.  Sometimes cut to length, which I charge extra for.  I am trying to break them from buying it, as I have a mountain of pine that could be used for what they are using it for.  I have to go cut the oak from my own stock.  I haven't had to buy a pine log in quite some time.  I have about 30 to cut right now...if I had the time..about 2/3 of them are very good logs.....I just dont have the time to get them right now.....  Tim
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Offline WDH

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2020, 08:47:52 PM »
In the hardwood market, soft maple lumber is selling for the same price or just a tad more then hard maple over the last couple of years.  That may be changing as the hard maple market strengthens.  Last week's Hardwood Market Report for kiln dried, FAS soft maple Sap & Btr was $1950 per MBF.  Hard maple #1 and #2 white, FAS was $1950 per MBF but was up $35 from the previous week.  Prior to this, the best grade of soft maple was bring more than the equivalent in hard maple.  For comparison, FAS red oak was $1450 per MBF. Soft maple gets a bad rap, but the good stuff sells for a good price and moves well in the market.  Yet, many consider it a poor crop tree in the woods.    
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Offline Southside

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2020, 09:29:04 PM »
Danny - PLEASE tell me you forgot a "M" in your BF pricing, otherwise I am going to jump in the buncher right now, skivvies and all, and get to dropping every hardwood I can find.   :D
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Offline mike_belben

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Re: What happened to the red oak market?
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2020, 09:40:14 PM »
My stand will produce about 30 oak and hickory sawlogs for every 1 red maple.  They either have spiral trunks and too much crook from reaching and bending for little beams of sun, or they have plenty of sun and just bush out at low heights.  If a RM gets too much sidelight itll just pop a new vertical leader out the buttlog.  


Sorta like blackgum in its behavior, except red maple seems to have a lot more tops snapped out of em from ice storms or high wind.   


I had a double trunk RM next to the house with full sun and a steady water source from the roof.  That thing had half inch growth rings.  It might behave and keep pace if planted in tight with yellow poplars ??
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