CUTTING BOARDS FROM A LOG

    The methods of cutting wood are determined by the intended use,
    appearance, and stability of the wood. There are three cutting
    methods, of which the first two are the most common. Plane Sawn,
    Quarter Sawn and Rift Sawn.

    Plane Sawn
    This is the simplest method. The log is squared and sawed
    lengthwise. Knots that occur are round or oval -shaped and have
    relatively little weakening effect on the lumber. The annual rings
    appear as approximately straight lines running across grain. The
    lines join at the bottom, forming a U-shape; however, this part is
    sometimes cut off. Wood cut this way shrinks and swells very little
    in thickness.

    Quarter Sawn
    Wood cut by this method is called "quarter sawn if it is hardwood. If
    it is softwood it is called "edge grained" or "vertical grained". The log
    is sawed into quarters, then into boards. The angle between the cut
    and the growth rings varies from 90 degrees to about 45 degrees. In
    such wood, the lines formed by the rings run with the grain. Again
    they will appear as relatively straight or as U-shaped, depending
    upon how much is cut off. Such lumber shrinks and swells less in
    width and warps less than plain-sawn lumber.

    Rift Sawn
    The logs are sawed at not less than 35 or more than 65 degrees to
    the annual rings, usually at about 45 degrees. In wood sawed this
    way, the rings appear as longitudinal lines. Rays always run
    longitudinally and are longer than lumber cut by the other methods.
Advantages and Disadvantages of these Sawing Techniques:

Plan or Flat Sawn
                       Quartered or Rift Sawn

1. Less waste but less stable.       1. Most waste and most expensive.
2. Less time cutting.                      2. Most stable but narrow widths.
3. More shrinkage in width.           3. Shrinks more in thickness than width.
4  Less expensive.                        4. More labor intensive.
5. Wider widths.         
Cutting
Methods
Just how a log is cut into lumber has a large influence on the quality
of the finished product. When a sawyer saws a log, usually the goal
is to obtain the largest volume of usable wood in the shortest length
of time. This results in mostly plane sawn lumber that services the
high volume wood industry. Quarter sawing produces boards cut on
the radius rather than on the tangent (plane sawn). It is slower to
produce at the sawmill but does result in a higher quality product.
Quarter sawn wood has two distinct advantages over plane sawn
wood.

• Structurally it has a much higher level of dimensional stability during
the drying process and its life thereafter. In other words it is much
less likely to bow, warp, or twist. And it is stronger.

• In addition to the structural advantages, many species display a
beautiful pattern of
rays that is sought after by woodworker's and
cabinetmakers.

If you require dimensionally stable wood for glued up panels,
tabletops or any cabinetwork that requires stability and beauty,
quarter sawn will result in the highest quality finished products.
                        Which Should I use?

Well this really depends on your taste and on your project and maybe
even your budget.
The quarter sawn boards From an Oak tree will have the characteristic
"
Tiger Stripes" found only in quarter sawn lumber and will generally
have less movement (shrinkage) when drying. The way the cells are
aligned will cause the quarter sawn board to shrink a little bit in width
and very little in thickness. Quarter sawn boards are also much less
prone to warping.
Plain sawn boards have grain in multiple directions, this will cause
un-even drying and in turn cause the board to warp (cup, twist, and
bow). The shrinkage rate is also much more pronounced in plain sawn
boards. Due to the grain's orientation in the board, the board will shrink
considerably in thickness as well as width.
Again, the quartered lumber will mainly swell in width, and the plain
sawn lumber will swell in width and thickness and possibly even warp.
Besides the stability, (and sometimes ray fleck that is displayed),
another great feature of quarter sawn lumber is if you have to glue up
boards for a larger sized panel the grain is easily matched to look
seamless.
With proper precautions taken during assembly (using joinery that will
allow slight seasonal movement of the wood), you can use either
quarter sawn or plain sawn lumber in your project and have a beautiful
piece of furniture that will last for generations.
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