Does white oak sparkle?


Not a lot of hardwood experience here so pardon what may be just be an ignorant question. I was edging a router table top with wood recently purchased at a small aution. Assumed to all be white oak, several of the boards are more brown and even colored and this was what I was using. Open grained and creamy brown color and not a lot of figure in the piece I was cutting. My wife pointed out to me that in the bright sun light it sparkles. Lots of little glimers or points of light as the wood is moved around reflecting the light. Is this oak or something else? Thanks
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Mike in Arkansas wrote:

You're possibly looking at medullary rays in white oak. They are most obvous when it is quartersawn, and may be quite large in some trees, but they do catch the light. If you can locate a piece of Arts & Crafts furniture in a dark finish, you'll see lighter rays through--still dark, but much lighter than the base color. Those are medullary rays.
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Thanks Charley. I'm familiar with quartersawn oak and this isn't that. It looks like tiny bits of glitter or glass imbedded in the grain pores and it's all over the surface regardless of the grain pattern. When sunlight hits it gives a quick flash like, well like glitter. Don't know what else to compare it to. Under normal inside lighting the effect is not noticable.
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Mike:
I have seen what you are talking about in white oak. It appears to be a mineral of some sort, possibly silica. The amount is likely dependent on the soil content where the tree grew, so it will vary from tree to tree. At least that's what I've always thought when I see it.
Kevin
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<<I have seen what you are talking about in white oak>> Rats! I was hoping that it was something more unusual. Oh Well, common can be good.
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No, it's not common, but I've seen it as well. Good luck trying to keep it visible once a finish is on, though...
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Whoa Dave, whoa. It is very common and is one of the hallmarks of White Oak - and one of the distinct features that distinguishes it from Red Oak. The "crystals" are called tyloses and are in the pores of the wood. Red Oak has very few and such you can blow through the endgrain; White Oak has abundant tyloses so you can't blow through it - also is the reason White Oak is used for barrels and other liquid tight containers while Red Oak isn't.
<http://www.uwsp.edu/papersci/biasca/ps350/tyloses.htm
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wrote:

OK, the white oak I use is from one of three trees, and I've only seen it in one. If it's more common, that's great.

Cool, thanks for the link. Any ideas on how to keep it visible after finishing?
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