Fascinating thread! Out here on the west coast, we have three dominant species
of live oak; the Coast Live Oak (quercus agrifola), the Interior Live Oak (q.
wislizenii) and the Engelmann Oak (q. engelmanii). As you might expect in
SoCal, they frequently interbreed, so crosses and hybrids are quite common.
Conventional wisdom says the wood is not workable-- too hard and moves too
much, with short trunks which do not yeild boards of any notable length.
However, I have had a great deal of success with it for smaller pieces and
accents. One piece I found has an intense fiddleback figure, and when
quarter-sawn, a truly spectacular flecking. I'm saving this for something
special. Another piece of downed wood had sat in the mulch so long that the
tannin had reacted with the wood and turned the bottom few inches into what is
essentially bog oak. Now, that's flashy! I personally am a fan of this
neglected wood, although I wouldn't try to use it for casework. And if all else
fails, it makes great, and I mean great barbecue!