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quarter sawing for a newbie

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Forum topic by yellabret posted 749 days ago 3691 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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yellabret

43 posts in 833 days


749 days ago

i have a friend/potential client that wants me to make some things from some oaks they had to fell on their property due to out horrendous drought we had in texas last year. they want a table or two since they came from their property, a park bench, and are going to build a new house in a year or 2 so i suggested they go ahead and mill out a Nicey Nicey bar and build the house around it – since the wood is free. i am going saturday to see the trees – apparently there are a couple dozen 3-4’ in diameter. knowing her, i expect maybe 1 or 2 bigger.

so – free wood, plenty to spare, and a nearby band saw mill. i figured we should find a good large trunk and quarter saw it – 1) mo pretty and 2) even tho oak moves less than others, if in 2 yrs the 16/4 slab is still not super dry (i know it wont be) we can go ahead and make it as opposed to waiting 4 yrs. it will be air drying in 2 summers of near 100degF and winters in the 70’s. being 1/4 sawn it will move less.

so, regardless if you think i am stupid to do it this way (and by all means fire up your flame throwers), i am sure i can talk them into a 8/4 “intermediate” bar that can hold the place for a few years for the 16/4 as it dries; then the 8/4 can be made into tables. no biggie.

so my question is milling – in the pic, what is the difference between the slab in red on top and the one on bottom? same for the blue? i really dont understand quarter sawing, either way you are cutting the same direction, just some go all the way across and others 1/2 way. .

so – given waste is no object, how would you mill a 16/4 oak bar to be used as soon as possible with as little movement as possible? (diagrams will help)

tx – david


18 replies so far

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2524 days


#1 posted 749 days ago

no difference aside from avoiding “pith”

you need a big ass tree to get 16/4 pieces of quarter sawn wood, even then 2 sides will not be a true 1/4 sawn, thus why they miter pieces so that all sides look quarter sawn.

2 cents

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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yellabret

43 posts in 833 days


#2 posted 749 days ago

thanks Moron – i have read a lot since my post and understanding more…

View Doss's profile

Doss

779 posts in 895 days


#3 posted 749 days ago

The difference is the overall cut of the log… not just the single cuts (but the singles you chose are different). The 1st row 1st column cut is plain sawing. The red part you highlighted is what it produces… log-width wide slabs. The blue part is something you’d create after by cutting a slab in half. It is really fast and how I process a lot of the lumber I cut. In that example log, they are basically making 8 slabs not counting that bark slab on the far left.

The 2nd row 2nd column is quarter sawing. It takes time to quarter saw and most sawyers don’t like doing it for cheap if they’re cutting a lot of lumber because of the time issue. The red part you highlighted does not exist in quarter sawing. You actually highlighted 4 different pieces with your red box. Your blue box highlights 2 boards. Their cut produces 24 boards with a lot of stick waste.

Check this out:

Personally, I like combining the 2nd row 1st and 2nd column when cutting. Actually, I process the log into a top 1/3, middle 1/3, and bottom 1/3. The top and bottom are quarter sawn and the middle is slabbed and then checked for stability as it dries. I’ve had pretty good luck with my last red oak staying flat through the middle when drying.

Moron is right. You’re going to need a huge tree to get a true 16/4 quarter sawn board.

Also, let me tell you a little something about weight. I have some large slabs all around. I cut a 36” wide 6’ long red oak at 12/4 and could manage to move it, but just barely. The same for a piece of sweetgum at 28” 14/4 @ 10’ long. If you cut large pieces, I hope you’re strong or have some help. Also, I hope you have a good place to store them as they’re going to take a long time to dry properly. Dry them too fast and you’ll probably end up having to bandsaw them down further due to all the checking and warping you’re going to experience. But, you could get lucky and none of that happens. It’s not an exact science.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View derosa's profile

derosa

1535 posts in 1467 days


#4 posted 749 days ago

No real difference, either way you may want to cut that board in half, the center wood isn’t all that good and with some of the boards I’ve received with the center left in that’s where the cracks seem to start and it causes some of them to go into the good area. It will also help to keep them from warping while drying as well. If the tree is 4’ wide then that center piece will be at least 18” wide and a bar top doesn’t have to be that wide. With a bar top you also won’t need to worry about the bottom of the slab being quarter sawn, only the drunks will notice and if they’re so far gone they’ve hit the floor then they won’t remember what it looks like anyways.
Somewhere on this site someone has a air drying system that uses angle iron and threaded rod to hold all his boards flat and straight while drying. For a lot of oak it will be worth the time. Also make sure you get good, dry stickers, certain woods will react and I’ve had to cut around staining from the oak reacting to the stickers because the stain went through the whole 1” thick board.

-- --Rev. Russ in NY-- A posse ad esse

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2524 days


#5 posted 749 days ago

to the best of my knowledge, the above diagram is dead wrong

close but no cigar

1/4 sawn wood is expensive because of the tremendous waste of wood that gets cut off to get square timber.

going through this effort, seems a tad bit of a shame should you speed the natural cycles of drying it out, only to find out that it cant be done. I smell disaster from the get go. It would take the average oak tree at least 200 years to attain the girth to produce 4 chunks of wood (where 2 faces will fight the others as the grain will NOT match) only to see all that work go right down the toilet, due to insufficient dry times assuming its AD

what a waste of 200 years

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View yellabret's profile

yellabret

43 posts in 833 days


#6 posted 749 days ago

thanks all – and yes doss, i am aware of weight and storage space – luckily my client has storage space under roof so we can air dry. we’ll see what we have wood-wise this weekend. some movement will be ok as i will sell them on the more rustic aspect where a little twist adds character.. ;-)

i have about 2 dozen pecan, oak, and elm slabs to 8/4, it took all i have to stack a few of them, i estimate to be 150 to 200 lbs. and more. not easy at all for one man – my back was sore a few days.

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Moron

4666 posts in 2524 days


#7 posted 749 days ago

actually, I am wrong, the last sketch is dead right

that said, the same rules apply

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

3334 posts in 1444 days


#8 posted 749 days ago

In your photos the bottom middle picture is quartersawn.
I would cut it all that way for the look and for the added stability.
Quartersawn oak doesn’t cup like flatsawn oak can.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

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WDHLT15

1097 posts in 1107 days


#9 posted 749 days ago

The way that I do it is saw the log into an octagon shaped cant. Then split the middle and take two boards above and below the pith. You can edge out the pith or leave it in. If you leave it in, then the board will split at the pith, especially in oak. You can cut out the split section later and glue the two sides back together. Nothing wrong with that. With two halves remaining, the octagon shape allows you the stand them up on edge and have a flat face to clamp on the sawmill. You split the middle of each half, taking about four more boards. These will be perfect quarter without the pith.

Here is an example of the octagon cant. The second pic shows the two halves after the first center cuts. The top half is clamped ready to be sawn, and the second hallf is on the loader arms awaiting its turn. The third pic is one of the center cuts from one of the halves.

After you split the two halves and take out the quarter sawn boards, you now have four pieces. You do the same with these four pieces by using the octagon shape to clamp them so you can cut perpendicular to the growth rings and get even more quarter sawn figure. You end up with some small angle shaped pieces and a little rift sawn lumber. There is almost no flat sawn boards except for the slabs that you initially cut from the log to create the octagon. One note, you need a big log to make this work, but you said that you had big logs.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT15 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln

View yellabret's profile

yellabret

43 posts in 833 days


#10 posted 749 days ago

so in this diagram, the top red slab would likely split and cup, but give me 2 live edges on a smaller tree, and – the bottom red would be least likely to split being offset from the pith a bit, but will likely cup, whereas the green slab – if it is a 4’ trunk, would give me at least 1 live edge, less tendency to cup, and 2’ width.

??

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 1868 days


#11 posted 749 days ago

You have been given some great advice and a quick google search will find a lot more. Here's a blog post with a photo display that shows how I quartersawed a log that was the biggest diameter log that I can saw on my sawmill without splitting it first. I did have to trim the sides with a chainsaw to get the headrig to clear. The log was 38” in diameter X 12’ long.

http://lumberjocks.com/HalDougherty/blog/25276

And here's another blog post I made on a sawmill forum to show the equipment I use to load & turn huge logs. The log I’m sawing here was 48” in diameter and I had to split the log before I could saw it. I ended up with over 300 bft of quartersawn red oak from this 48” X 4” log. I cut it short to help keep the weight down. Some of the boards lost some area because there was a gate hinge 6” from the center of the log! I cut right through it and then chainsawed it out.

-- Hal, Tennessee http://www.first285.com

View Doss's profile

Doss

779 posts in 895 days


#12 posted 748 days ago

Hal, good stuff man. You guys have me convinced to buy a bandsaw mill. This chainsaw mill is wearing me out.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View HalDougherty's profile

HalDougherty

1820 posts in 1868 days


#13 posted 748 days ago

Doss,
—————————————————————

I just checked my local Craig’s List and two people have one for sale.

This one is only $1500, but it’s a pretty small saw.

http://tricities.craigslist.org/tls/3188372212.html

This one is more expensive, $5500, but it will handle a 36” log. It doesn’t say how long the log deck is, but I bet it’s at least 16’ and could be longer. It also has a 24hp motor.

http://tricities.craigslist.org/tls/3187325726.html

Here’s the factory web site.

http://www.mistersawmill.com

Check your local Craig’s List, you might be surprised to see what’s available. Check the free listings there too. I find a lot of logs there.

-- Hal, Tennessee http://www.first285.com

View Doss's profile

Doss

779 posts in 895 days


#14 posted 748 days ago

yellabret, while the predictions on what the wood can and will do are sometimes wrong, they are usually pretty close. If you look at the rings in the boards they’re illustrating, just imagine that the board is going to want to “straighten out” those arcs (rings) as it dries. I usually cut them and let them dry and do their thing. I have enough wood sitting around that I’m not in any danger of running out for a couple of decades. You may not have that luxury, but just realize the center of the log is always the question mark.

Got your message and replied Hal. Thanks.

My partner and I are looking for a good alternative to making lumber faster. We like having the ability to cut 50” wide slabs with the chainsaw, but it is back-breaking, sweat dripping work right now in MS.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

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Kookaburra

747 posts in 855 days


#15 posted 748 days ago

Hal-
thanks for that blog post – it clarified a lot of this for me. I am glad people like you exist to cut up the wood so nicely, so I can use it and show off the features fo quarter and rift sawn pieces.

-- Kay - Just a girl who loves wood.

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