You might have heard the term “quarter sawn oak”, but never really knew what it meant. Maybe you thought it came from a certain type of oak tree. If you have ever seen both plain and quarter sawn oak in someone’s home, you probably know that the two look very different. So what is the difference between plain cut oak and quarter sawn oak?
The difference is in the cut…
The reason these two woods look so different? It is because they are sawed from the log differently. The difference in each sawing technique will affect the lumber’s appearance, its properties, and its ultimate application. It’s amazing how different cutting methods can affect the look of lumber cut from the same tree.
What is plain sawn oak?
“Plain sawn” is the most straightforward way to cut the rectangular boards from a round log. Mills create plain sawn oak by making a series of parallel cuts in the log, which minimizes the amount of scrap left behind. Thus, less waste is created. However, this method of cutting does have some drawbacks. First of all, the large grain pattern you see is becoming outdated. It is also inconsistent. But whether you like this look depends on your personal taste.
What is quarter sawn oak?
This method consists of cutting the log into quarters and creating a series of parallel cuts perpendicular to the tree’s rings. Quarter sawn oak has a tighter grain pattern, which is more consistent than plain sawn oak’s. The yield is not as substantial as plain-sawing the oak, so more waste is often left behind. The drawback of quarter sawn oak? It is typically more expensive than plain oak.
Are there any other cutting methods?
Wait–there is one more type of lumber. It is called “rift sawn”, and it is more stable than plain sawn oak. This cutting method requires each board to have the same relation to the log, so it has a more uniform appearance than plain oak. Unfortunately, rift sawn lumber is even more wasteful than quarter sawn.
So, which type of cut is best? It is ultimately up to you to choose. The factors you need to consider include: the amount of waste created, the look of the graining, and application of the lumber in your home.
Plain Sawn or Quartered?
What is Quartersawn Wood?