Since we launched our new line of Quartersawn White Oak in last year , we received a lot of questions about quartersawn. The annular rings are generally 30 degrees or less to the face of the board; this is often referred to as tangential grain. Sawn timber suppliers will be able to provide information on regarding treated sawn timber products. Another method of turning a log into boards is to quarter the log, then cut each quarter at roughly 90 degrees to the growth rings.
The drying starts in the exterior of the wood and works it’s way in. Because of this the wood must be monitored closely in order to prevent cracks and splits that occur when the exterior dries too rapidly. The other main method of timber conversion is known as Live Sawing; which means the sawing of boards in a series of parallel cuts without re-orienting the log.
Quartersawn wood is thus seen as an acceptable compromise between economical but less-stable flatsawn wood (which, especially in oak, will often display the distinct cathedral window” grain) and the expensively-wasteful rift sawn wood, which has the straightest grain and thus the greatest stability. Rift sawn lumber is very dimensionally stable and has a unique linear appearance.
In cutting a log, quarter sawn boards can be produced in several ways, but if a log is cut for maximum yield it will produce only a few quarter sawn boards among the total; if a log is cut to produce only quarter sawn boards there will be considerable waste. Also similar to quarter sawn, rift sawn boards are narrower, available in limited quantities, and the sawing method produces a significant amount of log waste. However, it also produces the most waste, which will cost more per board foot than either quarter sawn and plain sawn lumber.
The diagram below shows the cutting technique for producing rift & quarter sawn boards. If you still have any questions regarding wood styles, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we would be happy to assist you! Quarter sawn lumber is valued more than plain sawn lumber because of the greater time it takes to produce. For reasons other than cost, most people prefer quarter-sawn wood, although some people favor the variety in figuring produced in plain sawing. This method of sawing provides the least amount of waste because the entire log is utilized.
I personally prefer plain-sawn wood because I like the variety in grain patterns you get from plain-sawn wood (particularly walnut, which has alternating colors of brown, purple, green, light brown, etc). Between plain sawn, quarter sawn, and rift sawn wood, different cuts of lumber can vary significantly when it comes to grain pattern, durability, yield, and price. It is also a popular way to cut veneer and is great for book matching (laying matching grain patterns side by side to repeat and mirror the grain). Quartered Ash flooring is used frequently where radiant heat is involved because of its stability. Live sawn is a term used when a timber is sawn all the way thru board after board.
As real logs are not perfectly round and not perfectly straight, each radially sawn board reflects the longitudinal shape of the log. At McClure, we routinely work with all three cuts of lumber and are providing an in-depth look at the varying qualities and how each type of cut is sawn and produced. Quartersawn wood might include medullary rays and wavy grain patterns that some people prefer over the patterns that are revealed through the other sawing methods. Quarter sawn is a method that logs are cut into quarters then sawing it perpendicular to the growth rings. The size, type, and arrangement of the wood cells differ with the species, and this also affects the appearance of the grain.
White Oak quartersawn wood floor, Select grade, 3.25 inches wide by 22.5 inches long, Southampton, New York. At the sawmill, plain sawn lumber is cut into parallel planks through the center of the tree. The grain of plain-sawn lumber is defined by the circular rings of the lumber, which create a cathedral pattern. There are three different ways that timber board can be cut out of a log to produce solid wood flooring.
I saw the videos about raw timber and found them inspiring to say the least, but I can’t find info on how to tell different wood types apart, and which is best for what (instruments, cabinets, etc.). I think it would be very helpful, as is the rest of the information already posted. Given the confusion within the industry, The best advice I can offer to buyers and sellers is to make sure a clear definition for these terms is agreed upon before you sign on the bottom line.
Depending on where the cut passed through the log, boards with three grain patterns are produced as illustrated by Richard Jones (a furniture maker in Leeds, Great Britian; see ). The terminology describing these patterns and the cuts that produce them are not standardized as can be seen in the illustration. Due to the extreme amount of waste from the rest of the wood, Rift Sawn flooring is extremely rare and expensive. We can do either strictly quarter sawn or strictly rift sawn, but at a higher price.
But by the time a log is sawn and incorporated into a product, the provenance” is often lost and we are left with fewer clues. By cutting a log into four quarters, then plain sawing each quarter, you end up with lumber that naturally resists cupping. Riftsawn is a great compromise between the two cuts and is only slightly more expensive than flat sawn lumber. The art of sawing quarter, rift and flat grain boards is one of the most creative and exciting parts of my job. It is more stable than flat sawn wood and often has lovely grain, such as in the oak below.
Rift sawing produces a virtually straight grain appearance on the face of the board with little to no visible flake”. Manufactured by milling perpendicular to the log’s growth rings producing a linear grain pattern with no flecking. Just as no book or print can fully reproduce the feeling one gets standing before a great original painting, no photograph can capture the visual quality of this flooring. Yellabret, while the predictions on what the wood can and will do are sometimes wrong, they are usually pretty close.
So it’s a good idea to have a thorough working knowledge of this subject when designing and building anything from wood. Our carefully machined lumber provides you with the structural integrity and unique grain patterns you want. Normally, plain sawn and quarter sawn are the method to use in produce solid wood flooring. Then the quarters are cut radially perpendicular to the growth rings (this differs from quarter sawn). If the patterns along the wood are linear and very close together, the wood is likely rift sawn.
Plain sawn is the least expensive and most common lumber you will find because milling is faster and there is minimal waste involved. Quarter sawn wood has an amazing straight grain pattern that lends itself to design. Quartersawn- The flecks of this quarter sawn White Oak call to mind tiger stripes. It is straight grained and in oak, does not reveal any ‘silver ribbon’ grain features.
If the diagram here is an accurate representation of rift sawing, then the growth rings will pass through the face of rift-sawn wood at an angle of 90 degrees, give or take a degree or so. The wood has a fine uniform, straight grain, satiny, smooth texture, and may naturally contain brown pith flecks and small gum pockets. Tangential boards (crown, plain or flat sawn) are used extensively for beams and joists.
Most production mills do not quarter saw lumber due to the increased time that it takes to quarter the log and the decreased lumber volume that will be produced from each log. Thanks for that blog post – it clarified a lot of this for me. I am glad people like you exist to cut up the wood so nicely, so I can use it and show off the features fo quarter and rift sawn pieces. Instead of being cut to produce plain sawn, quarter sawn, or rift sawn wood, the log is cut straight through with each cut parallel to the last.
I think it is important to understand what ray fibers are in order to really grasp how they affect wood movement, especially in quarter sawn wood. Plain sawn boards are the least expensive of the three cuts as they are the least labor-intensive to produce and leave the least waste. Select wood has few defects, but contains some natural characteristics such as small knots and color variation. Notice how there is enough wood for a lot of slab boards even of a certain width.