Quarter sawing or quartersawn are strange-sounding terms. They refer to and describe how a log is cut or milled into lumber. There are principally three ways a log is cut into boards. The easiest, most straightforward process for lumber production is called plainsawn or flatsawn. A log is cut into boards by running a saw lengthwise down the log making parallel cuts. This method maximizes the amount of lumber obtained from a log and minimizes the amount of scrap. There are two disadvantages to this type of board production. First, the grain of the boards will look different depending upon where the log was cut. Secondly, the boards are not as stable which can result in warping. The second means of cutting a log is called riftsawn. With this method, the boards are cut from the log at exact right angles to the growth rings. This technique produces boards from the same log that look very similar since the grain on the boards was all cut at the same angle. The lumber from this production is very stable but it also produces many wedge-shaped pieces of scrap. Due to the amount of waste generated, this type of board production is not common. The third manner of lumber manufacturing is called quartersawn or quarter sawing. This process begins by cutting the original log into four quarters. Each wedge of log is then sliced lengthwise with the cuts perpendicular to the growth rings. The boards created in this fashion are stable, less resistant to warping and the grain is mostly straight. In some woods such as cherry or maple and especially oak, there is an appearance of rays or flecking to the board that are highly desirable in furniture manufacturing. This form of board production does generate waste and consequently the lumber produced is more expensive. Oak is particularly beautiful when quartersawn. Quartersawn oak was a favorite material for furniture manufacturing during the Arts & Crafts period, most notably from the workshops of the Stickley brothers and the Roycrofters. Furniture is still manufactured using quartersawn wood. It is more expensive, but the beauty and strength of the furniture is worth the price for many people.
I am the Merchandise Manager for Humble Abode. I am located in Santa Rosa, California. Santa Rosa is approximately 60 miles north of San Francisco in beautiful Sonoma County, part of California's wine country. Humble Abode is an online retailer of furniture and furnishings offering a wide selection of furniture for sale to suit every taste and budget.
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