Wood Flooring Cuts

Lumber is either plainsawn, quartersawn or riftsawn.


This is the most common and least expensive method.  Plainsawn lumber is made by making the first cut on a tangent to the circumference of the log and the remaining cuts parallel to the first.  This method of sawing provides the widest boards with the least amount of waste.   Most of the lumber that is created from plainsawing is flat-grained with some vertical-grained wood.  Therefore plainsawn lumber will include more variation than a quartersawn lumber which is almost all vertical-grained.  Firgure patterns from the annual rings along with other types of figures can be more conspicuous with plainsawn lumber.  Another consideration is that plainsawn lumber will expand and contract more across the width of the boards with humidity fluctuations.  This is due to flat-grained wood being less dimensionally stable than vertical-grained wood.


This type of lumber is produced by first quartering the log and then sawing perpendicular to the growth rings.  Quartersawn lumber is more expensive as it produces relatively narrow boards, nearly all vertical grained and creates more waste.  Quartersawn is a popular option for reasons including: it is more dimensionally stable, it wears more evenly because there is less soft grain exposed, the beauty of the rays and interlocked grain is more pronounced and sapwood is limited to the edges.


Riftsawn is very similar to quartersawn lumber.  The angle of the cut is just slightly changed so that fewer of the cuts are made parallel to the medullary rays, which create the flake effect.  Because riftsawing creates more waste it is generally more expensive.  The biggest difference between riftsawn and quartersawn is that riftsawing minimizes the flake effect .