Preferred for Its Beauty and Stability
Quartersawn hardwood lumber, a.k.a. “figure hardwood,” is preferred for its unrivaled beauty, strength and stability. The secret to exploiting these superior characteristics is the quartersawing process itself. View Video
In commonly practiced plainsawing (or flatsawing), a lower quality log, permitting some degree of decay in its center, is acceptable for milling. Sawn from the outside-in with the log’s growth rings parallel to the board’s broad face, this process yields wider boards, but more waste by-products. This orientation of the growth rings can allow, especially in these wider boards, shrinkage in width, cupping and warping. There are many applications where plainsawn lumber is suitable. It does not, however, exhibit the visual distinction and stability required by many high-end architectural designs.
Quartersawing is a slower, more labor and technologically intensive process, preserving both the straight-grained beauty and integrity of the wood. First, choice logs are quartered. Then each quarter log is sawn from the inside-out, producing more boards of higher quality and with significantly less waste. The straight grain pattern of the quartered board’s face represents its enhanced beauty and stability. Cut with the growth rings 60° – 90° perpendicular to the broad face of the board, the medullary ray is exposed to maximum visual effect, giving quartered lumber the distinctive appearance that sets it apart. Successive cuts of the quartered log produce riftsawn boards with growth rings 30°– 60° perpendicular to the board’s face. This results in lumber with decidedly less pronounced medullary ray. These “rift” boards are simply less “figured” than “quartered” lumber, although both are classified as quartersawn. These characteristics are particularly pronounced in the oak and to varying and lesser degrees in other types of hardwood.
Shrinking and expanding primarily in thickness, quartersawn hardwood boards remain flat, stable, and strong in flooring, millwork, craftsman furniture or cabinetry applications.