Woodworking Tips
Woodworking Tips Index
Lumber Grain, Part 3
This is the third in a series of tips on how lumber is cut from a log and sold at a lumber yard, and why you should care. We first looked at flatsawn lumber -- identified by growth rings on the end grain that are 30 degrees or less to the face of the board. These are the least expensive boards, but they have the wildest grain and are the most likely to cup and warp.

Last week we looked a riftsawn lumber -- its growth rings are 30 to 60 degrees to the face of the board. It is sometimes found on the same board as flatsawn grain, but it has more straight grain, is generally considered more attractive, and is more stable than flatsawn.

Today, a look at quartersawn: top 'o the line. The straightest grain comes from logs that are quartersawn. Here, the growth rings will be 60 degrees to 90 degrees to the face of the board.

In addition to really straight grain, some hardwoods, such as red and white oak, cherry, and hard maple, exhibit highly figured grain (ray flecks) when quartersawn. And when finished, these woods can be quite striking.

Also, when the humidity does change, quartersawn lumber is the most stable of the three cuts of lumber. The downside to quartersawn lumber is that it requires larger logs to produce reasonably wide boards. And since there's more waste (a lot more), it's the most expensive cut.

So buy the cut you need. If you're building reproduction Arts and Crafts furniture, then quartersawn lumber is the only way to go. But most of the time, it will be worth your trouble to spend the extra time searching through the pile of flatsawn lumber to pull out the riftsawn boards.

Go to Tip #21
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