Quarter-Sawn Lumber vs. Plain-Sawn Lumber

When picking out lumber for your next project, it is helpful to know what the difference types are and what the advantages and disadvantages are of each. 

There are 3 basic ways that lumber is cut, Quarter-Sawn, Plain-Sawn, and Rift-Sawn.  

Plain-Sawn Lumber

Plain-Sawn Lumber is also often called flat-sawn lumber.  Plain-Sawn Lumber is cut so that the log runs through the mill in one piece, and each slice is parallel through the log.   Many people seek out Plain-Sawn lumber becuase of the way it looks.  It has loops and growth swirls found in the grain patters that gives it a very attractive look.  Plain-Sawn Lumber also conserves the lumber, producing the most usable lumber from any particular board, and can be easier to find and less expensive than Quarter-Sawn Lumber or Rift-Sawn Lumber. 

Some disadvantages of Plain-Sawn Lumber are that it can twist, cup, or bow as the wood dries and ages.  Plain-Sawn Lumber also tends to absorb more moisture from the air than Quarter-Sawn or Rift-Sawn lumber, which can result in more unwanted movement of the wood.

Quarter-Sawn Lumber

Quarter-Sawn Lumber is where the log is cut into quarters first, through the logs center.  Each quarter is then sawn.  This produces a plank where the tree’s growth rings are perpendicular to the plank’s surface, and produces a straight, linear grain pattern.  Quarter-Sawn Lumber produces much less usable lumber than Plain-Sawn lumber, making it more expensive.  It is often still sought after becuase it is more stable.  It is less likely to cup or twist and there are fewer surface checks and splits.  It also wears more evenley.  These are crucial attributes if using the lumber for furniture building. 

Rift-Sawn Lumber

Milling Rift-Sawn Lumber is the most laborous of the three, and also produces the least amount of usable lumber.  It does have some advantages over Plain-Sawn and Quarter-Sawn lumber.  It is the most stable and has a vertical grain that is shown from all sides.  The linear grain pattern is achieved by milling perpendicular to the logs growth rings on angles between 45 and 75 deg.

Rift-Sawn lumber is the most structural integrity of all the different types of cut lumber, but comes with a higher price tag.

Once you have chosen the best wood for your project, shop for the best Cutting Tools.

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