what is quarter sawn wood

What Does Quarter Sawn Wood Mean?

When natural wood is cut and prepared, lumberyards use specific cutting methods to produce different types of wood. One of these is quarter-sawn wood. Let’s find out what is quarter sawn wood and how to make this type of cut. We’ll also touch on other lumber cuts rift sawn wood and plain sawn wood. 

What is quarter sawn wood?

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Quarter Sawn wood is when the wood is cut at an angle where the annular growth rings meet the face of the wooden board. In quarter sawn wood, there is no specific area or measurement regarding the angle but most cutters say that this is from 60 to 90, 75 to 90 degrees, and 45 to 90 degrees. 

In a sawmill, quarter sawn wood is made by cutting each log at a radial angle to 4 quarters and thus the name quarter sawn. After the wood is sawed, every quarter is plain sawn.  

Why cut wood using a quarter cut?

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Quarter Sawn wood has a unique beauty which is why it’s commonly used in cabinetry and other decorative projects. Traditional woodcut in a quarter sawn manner is common in the manufacture of mission-style furniture pieces. 

Because of the way quarter sawn wood is cut, every piece is very stable. Also, quarter sawn wood is easier to use as it won’t twist, warp or cup even when consistent pressure is applied. Quarter Sawn wood is very resistant to moisture because of its pattern also, it is not vulnerable to checking and grain raising. 

Indeed, quarter sawn lumber has its perks but it also has some disadvantages. First, the way quarter sawn wood is manufactured always results in a much lower yield. It is harder to cut quarter sawn lumber and thus, it’s more expensive compared to plain sawn wood. 

Also, not all sawmills produce quarter sawn wood. This is because it takes too much time and effort to manufacture.

What are the uses of quarter cut wood?

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Quarter cut wood has many unique uses. 

For decorative purposes

Quarter Sawn wood has a lovely surface pattern because of the way it’s cut. Because of this, it is used in decorative applications, flooring, wooden wall panels, cabinets, headboards, and more. 

To make interesting furniture pieces

The lovely wooden grain of quarter sawn wood attracts many furniture makers. You’ll surely find this type of wood on tables, nightstands, bed boards, tables, doors, and more. 

To build strong and durable furniture pieces

Indeed, quarter sawn wood is very strong, very durable. This is why it’s common in load-bearing furniture pieces like beds, cabinets, tables, and side tables. You can also find floors, decks, and ceilings made from quarter sawn wood.

To construct moisture-resistant, mold-resistant floorboards and furniture

To make very durable flooring, quarter sawn wood is preferred. This type of wood is moisture resistant and thus, is less likely to develop molds and mildew. Dry wood will also resist pests and thus works great as flooring and for making furniture. 

What is the difference between live sawn wood, rift sawn wood, and plain sawn wood?

Aside from quarter sawn wood, you may have also heard of other types like rift sawn wood, live sawn wood, and plain sawn wood. Let’s check out the differences, their uses, and how these are manufactured. 

Plain sawn or flat sawn wood

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This type of cut is the most common and also the least expensive because it’s the easiest and the most inexpensive method of cutting logs into usable lumber. 

In plain sawn wood, the annual rings are 30 degrees or lower from the face of the board which is also known as the tangential grain of the wood. The output has a cathedral design or pattern along the face of the wooden board. Plain sawn wood is material-efficient and also displays lovely natural grains of wood. 

Almost all sawmills manufacture plain sawn or flat sawn wood because it’s one of the easiest to cut and the most cost and time-efficient cutting techniques.

Rift sawn wood

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Rift sawn is known for being the most expensive as these are manufactured as compliment quarter sawn wood. Also, logs may be cut as rift sawn.  In this cut, the annular rings are from 30 to 60 degrees with around 45 degrees as the best location.

To create rift sawn wood, the cut is made perpendicular to the growth rings creating a linear grain appearance minus the flecking. When wood is rift sawn, there is too much waste, more than a quarter sawn wood. This dramatically increases the cost of rift sawn lumber. 

Rift sawn wood is very stable and offers a lovely linear grain appearance. The most common wood used in rift sawn cuts is oak as this cut avoids the flecks found in oak wood. Every piece is sawn radially perpendicular to the growth rings. 

This cut is the strongest and very consistent. It is used to make fine furniture as there are consistent grain patterns found all over the board. Not all sawmills produce rift sawn wood as it’s harder to cut and takes a lot of time and effort to do so as well.

Live sawn wood

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Cutting lumber in a live sawn manner is very efficient and is common in making floor planks. Live sawn lumber is new with every plank cut straight from the log using one direction with no changes in the log’s orientation. 

Live sawn lumber cuts produce lumber with a wide range of angles on the grain. These angles are from 0 to 90 degrees with live planks having all the characteristics of the log. Live sawn lumber is one of the most efficient building materials as all the milling techniques are considered.  Not all sawmills produce live sawn wood.

Now that you have an idea of what is quarter sawn wood, it’s easier to find the right cut that will work for your construction needs.  Get to know more about the different wood species and the best type of cut that will work best for each project. 



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