How to Quarter Saw Lumber

By Wood-Mizer, Wood-Mizer

There are several reasons to consider quarter sawing your lumber because the grain patterns in some hardwoods are in great demand. For example, quarter sawn oak is more valuable than plain sawn oak. Quarter sawn wood is also more dimensionally sound meaning it will not cup or dish while drying and will shrink less than plain sawn lumber. Due to these advantages, woodworkers, cabinet makers, quality furniture shops, and craftsmen typically prefer quarter sawn lumber to work with. However, not all lumber will increase in value when quarter sawn due to the amount of handling and time involved to produce. Quarter sawn lumber refers to the angle at which the tree’s growth rings intersect the face of the sawn board. Although there are differing opinions on the term, fully quarter sawn lumber is generally defined as growth rings that are 80 to 90 degrees to the face of the board. The quarter sawing method can also produce rift sawn lumber which is considered to have growth rings that are 45 to 80 degrees to the face of the board.

Advantages of Quartersawn Lumber

  • Heavy ray fleck is a valuable characteristic to woodworkers
  • Half the shrinkage in width vs. flatsawn lumber when drying (3% vs. 6%)
  • Dries flatter with less risk of checking during drying
  • More stable in an environment with varying humidity
  • Wears more evenly when used as flooring

Disadvantages of Quartersawn Lumber

  • Often results in 20% lower yields from logs
  • Lower lumber production rates
  • Requires 15% or so longer drying times
  • Shrinks twice as much in thickness vs. flatsawn lumber
  • Has spike knots compared to circular knots which reduce strength
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