log cutsMany people assume that when wood is cut it stays the same way and doesn’t morph. However, when wood is cut, it moves, contracts, expands and warps. These changes can alter and even ruin the design of wood floors or any wooden object. To avoid surprises, one should understand the nature of wood. Plus not too many individuals are aware of the interesting process of turning trees, or specifically logs, into wood boards.  The following article will discuss the methods used in cutting logs into boards.

The main ways of cutting logs into boards are plainsawn, quartersawn and rift sawn.

Plain sawn
The plain sawn approach makes the most useable wood and has little waste. In this procedure, the sawyer cuts through the pith of the log in parallel, one after another. No wonder this technique is also called through and through. This procedure is both simple and fast. This method is used by most mills and can be applied to any type of tree. Studies show that 90% of logs are cut into boards using the plain sawn procedure.

Plain sawn yields specific patterns on the board. Because this procedure involves cutting the log in a parallel fashion, the end result is graphic ovals, u-shaped patterns and ripples. The major drawback of plainsawn wood is how much it changes due to aging, changes in humidity and drying.
quarter sawn vs plain sawn
Quarter Sawn
The quarter sawn cutting procedure yields the most waste and is the least efficient log production technique. This is why it is the most expensive method of cutting logs. However, quarter sawn wood is very stable. Since quarter sawn wood has the least wood movement compared to other procedures, this stability makes it attractive. This is one of the reasons quartersawn wood was preferred in the ancient times. Quartersawn wood is cut perpendicular to the log’s growth rings. This approach results in a uniform, straight grain pattern. Quartersawn wood is best suited for floors or cabinets or situations where a uniform pattern is desired. Quatersawn is also used for cutting most percussion instruments. Many electric guitars and fret boards are designed using quartersawn wood. This is because this technique can cut wood into small pieces that are stable- do not twist or warp. This kind of stability helps an instrument have consistent sound.
Rift Sawn Oak
Rift Sawn
As you move far from the radial cut on wood, the tree rings move further from a 90 degrees angle. Riftsawn refers to boards whose grain is somewhere between 30 and 60 degrees angle. As the angle becomes less perpendicular, the board moves from being quartersawn to being rift sawn. Rift sawn wood is a byproduct of quarter sawn wood. It is less costly than quarter sawn wood. Most of the wood that is not plainsawn is rift sawn- quartersawn wood is for expensive stuff. One can identify rift sawn wood from the absence of the u-shaped patterns of plainsawn wood and because it looks like what many people think of when they are talking about wood. If you want a stable type of wood but cannot afford quartersawn wood, rift sawn wood is the most viable option.

How a Tree is Processed and Cut into Boards
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