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what does quater sawn mean?

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Forum topic by jems posted 03-22-2010 12:03 AM 7916 views 2 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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jems

47 posts in 2463 days


03-22-2010 12:03 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question

what does quater sawn mean?

-- every good gift and every pefect gift is from above James 1:17


19 replies so far

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

452 posts in 2470 days


#1 posted 03-22-2010 12:16 AM

It refers to the angle at which the rings of the wood hit the surface. I think its between 75 and 85 degrees. 85 to 90 is what they call “Rift” cut. They start out cutting the log into Quarters and then slicing off a plank from alternating faces of the Quarter log.

The optimum angle causes all those “rays” to show in oak and does other things in other woods.

Google “Quarter Sawn Lumber” and you will find out.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View Gofor's profile

Gofor

470 posts in 3252 days


#2 posted 03-23-2010 01:06 AM

Common use of terms is if wood growth rings in relation to widest surface is:

60 to 90 degrees = quarter sawn
30 to 60 degrees = rift sawn
and less than 30 or going both directions -= flat sawn.

Quarter sawn is the most stable. In some woods like oak and sycamore, it brings out the “ray fleck” in appearance. Because of its stability, it is commonly used for face frames, etc on cabinets/dressers, and for the rails and styles on paneled doors, etc.

Rift sawn is good for table legs and corner posts as it gives the same appearance on all surfaces, so the pattern continues around the corner.

Flat sawn gives you the “cathedral grain” look that is attractive for large surfaces and book matched panels. It is the most prone to warping and cupping.

JMTCW

Go

-- Go http://ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=730

View tbone's profile

tbone

273 posts in 3150 days


#3 posted 03-23-2010 04:54 PM

I’m certainly not a sawyer, but I DO know that quarter-sawing a log is more time consuming, and it yields less usable material. Consequently, the cost is higher.
As stated before, it is more stable and moves less than other methods of cutting.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

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Ampeater

425 posts in 3213 days


#4 posted 03-23-2010 06:55 PM

What gofor said.

-- "A goal without a plan is a wish."

View JJohnston's profile

JJohnston

1614 posts in 2757 days


#5 posted 03-23-2010 08:34 PM

There’s a direct contradiction between Michael Murphy and Gofor here. Their definitions of rift and quarter sawn are switched. I did some research on the web, and I find this contradiction is all over – virtually half the resources say it’s one way (rift is with the rings closer to 90 degrees to the face), and the other half say it’s the other (quarter is with the rings closer to 90 to the face). What gives?

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

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Gofor

470 posts in 3252 days


#6 posted 03-24-2010 02:35 AM

The info I gave was prefaced with the term “common use” and suffixed with “just my two cents worth”. This is based on the terms’ usage in most furniture construction tomes I have read. However, talking to over five different sawyers in the state (i.e. via internet forum), as far as sawyers are concerned, wood is either quarter sawn of flat sawn. This is due to the process and how they orient the log to the blade when milling the rough lumber. Flat sawn is the least expensive, because the board is flattened on one side to ride solid on the carriage, and then is just sliced from one side to the other. With quarter sawn, the log is initially quartered, and then each quarter is sliced, rotating 90 degrees between each cut. A lot more work, less wide boards, and so a lot more expensive. Realize that quarter sawing results in some wood having a 45 degree grain orientation.

The term “rift sawn” is sometimes used when referring to radial sawing, when all boards are sawed perpendicular to the heart. Few millers do this, because to do so means rotating the log for each cut, and too much wood is lost because of the taper that in results in each board or the waste if each board’s thickness is centered on the heart. It results in the most stable wood, but also is very labor intensive and wasteful. In this case, every board has a 90 degree (or close) grain orientation.

I do not know if the term rift sawn was originally used to denote what is now called radial sawing, or if it is a result of the “Wiki” internet where anyone can post a “fact” that is then used as a reference for anyone else that wants to use it. I am not a wood history scholar by any means, and have also seen much conflicting info on this topic. I would say to just make sure you question the lumber supplier on the use of the term before buying the wood so you both are speaking the same language.

To confuse things even more, realize that if you take a 36” wide board that the sawyer “flat sawed” across the heart of a log, and then you cut it in half down the heart line, you have just produced two 18” wide quarter sawn as well as radial or possibly rift sawn boards. The sawyer got paid on how he cut it, but you may use it based on grain orientation called something different in the furniture design book you are following. Another case where the initial producer (the sawyer) uses one term, and the marketer or user uses another term.

Mr Murphy may be absolutely correct on this, and I do not refute his info. Regardless what consensus here may be arrived at from this thread, the rest of the world will still go on using and abusing the terms as they do now.,

Go

-- Go http://ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=730

View Tony_S's profile

Tony_S

606 posts in 2548 days


#7 posted 03-24-2010 03:01 AM

Great posts Gofor. You nailed it (no pun intended) twice now. Your descriptions of quartered, rift and flat sawn is exactly what Ive always understood in twenty some odd years of ordering, buying and using hardwoods.

-- It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it. Aristotle

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

452 posts in 2470 days


#8 posted 03-24-2010 03:17 AM

If you request quarter sawn planks they take and saw the log in half, then saw each half in half. Then take alternating cuts on each face of the quarters to keep the rings at the optimum angle to display the rays. Thats why it costs more to order that type of cut at a sawmill.

If you saw a log through and through you will end up with some quarter sawn boards, and some rift sawn due to the angle of the saw to the rings because you are just slicing the log in the same orientation over and over again.

Lets see if I can post my infamous “sketchup” example.

Quarter Sawing:

and since it is all one picture,

the bottom part is plain or Through and Through sawing, not turning the log at all. Most lumber is cut this way.
Photobucket

Even when plain sawing you do end up with quarter and rift sawn planks. Most mills cherry pick and sell those at a premium. Even Redwood used in hot tubs should be rift or maybe quartersawn to keep the expansion in the width axis of the board.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

452 posts in 2470 days


#9 posted 03-24-2010 03:21 AM

Yeah, they may take a cut to make one side flat first the flip the flat spot onto the carriage to get better grip on it.
Then just plain slice it.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View JJohnston's profile

JJohnston

1614 posts in 2757 days


#10 posted 03-24-2010 03:41 AM

I don’t think it’s that cut and dry. Here’s a small sample of pictures from various references, illustrating that everybody apparently has his own definition of quarter vs. rift. No doubt this is here to stay, so choose your pieces personally to be sure you get what you want, not what the sawyer thinks you meant.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View bandman's profile

bandman

79 posts in 2855 days


#11 posted 03-24-2010 04:40 AM

As I run logs quartersawn on my mill, I use both the alternate quartersawing and common
quartersawing methods depected above for the most logs. If a client wants mutiple bookmatched
quartersawn boards, as wide as possible, the triple cut method will yeild the desired results with
(3) matched board sets, close to the same width. As you saw the log, this can easily be made to
(2) boards per side with the same effect as well. Keep in mind for red and white oak, as well as other
species, a small section around the pith is removed from most boards for apearance.

In my experience, as you use the alternate quartersawing method (flipping the quarter back and forth for
sequential boards from each alternate face) , some rift material will be produced as you work your way out from the center of the quarter (see 3d log section with rift sawn labeled above).

In a plain sawn application, the log is squared on the mill, then individual boards are taken from each of
the (4) faces. working toward the center of the log. Defects in the log are typically placed at or near the edges of the square pattern for grade.

In flatsawn through and through ( I don’t do this much unless requested) a combination of sawing types
will occur depending on where the board is located the log. Ie, the flatsawn through and through section from the center will exhibit quartersawn grain on both sides of the board with the pith in the middle.

Alright, I’m rambling, it is my intention to add my experience to the good explanations provided above from a sawyers perspective. As you work with a sawyer custom cutting for you, I like to take the time to discuss the project cutting list and goals with the woodworker prior to cutting the material for a common understanding.

-- Phil

View Michael Murphy's profile

Michael Murphy

452 posts in 2470 days


#12 posted 03-24-2010 05:55 AM

Great explanation!

Nice picture/illustration of the different ways to quarter or rift saw a log.

All I was intending to say was even with plain sawing techniques you end up with some quarter sawn ray flake pattern and some rift.

-- Michael Murphy, Woodland, CA.

View jems's profile

jems

47 posts in 2463 days


#13 posted 03-24-2010 04:07 PM

i didn’t mean to start an argument i just ask what i thought was a simple question

-- every good gift and every pefect gift is from above James 1:17

View JJohnston's profile

JJohnston

1614 posts in 2757 days


#14 posted 03-24-2010 04:57 PM

There’s no argument, just some confusion over the terminology. Just make sure you know what you want, and why, so you can make sure you get it.

-- "A man may conduct himself well in both adversity and good fortune, but if you want to test his character, give him power." - Abraham Lincoln

View patron's profile

patron

13538 posts in 2806 days


#15 posted 03-24-2010 05:26 PM

thanks , rob .
everything i build must be from ’ quartersawn ’ ,

as i usually only get about a ’ quarter ’ of what it’s worth !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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