How much will flat-sawn oak warp?

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Forum topic by tpcolson posted 11-19-2013 05:07 PM 3686 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 1887 days

11-19-2013 05:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak milling traditional question

I’m a serial renovator, currently renovating my 2000 SF hand-hewn log cabin. I’m hoping to do all of the walls and ceiling with oak planks. I have a pile of 8 foot oak (red and black) logs that I’m about to have sawn. I’m interested in the greatest volume of cut lumber, not really interested in “furniture grade”, as this is a hand hewn cabin! I’m loosing sleep over whether I should get it quarter sawn, or flat sawn. The biggest log I have is 22 inches, some are 12, and I know you really can’t QS below 16. My question is, how much is flat sawn oak going to warp and cup in a cabin in East TN where sometimes it’s so humid you feel like you’re swimming? Bug holes, kerf marks, knots, don’t bother me but I loose my mind when I see drastically cupped, gapped, or warped boards. Is oak so unstable that I should give up on flat sawn? Is it going to cup, as sure as the sun comes up? I am going to have it kiln dried. Given the availablity of oak to me (not much left), I really can’t afford QS, as I’ll have to get logs elsewhere. The whole point of the renovation is to aquire and cut the wood in the same manner as the logs. The “Borgs” and even the local guys want so much for rough cut oak, it’s cheaper for me to go troll for logs and bring them back to my driveway…errr….logging deck. Thanks!

7 replies so far

View pintodeluxe's profile


5816 posts in 3050 days

#1 posted 11-19-2013 05:29 PM

Normally I would say quartersaw, quartersaw, quartersaw. However a 12-16” diameter log won’t yield much when quartersawn.
Not only will flatsawn oak cup more than QS oak, it will expand and contract more across its width.

It can be a tough call.

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

View mahdee's profile


4042 posts in 2005 days

#2 posted 11-19-2013 05:36 PM

Oak, will twist, bend, cup and shrink. One it dries, forget about hammering a nail through it. I built my log home with oak but did the interior walls with sheetrock it gave it a nice contrast. You can see it here.


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Gene Howe

11147 posts in 3666 days

#3 posted 11-19-2013 05:58 PM

Is the cabin insulated? Do you have an inner wall system or lateral sleepers to nail to?

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View tpcolson's profile


5 posts in 1887 days

#4 posted 11-19-2013 06:11 PM

This is for interior walls (between rooms), and ceilings. Cabin is 2 story. Exterior wall, and outer wall on the interior, will remain log. Yes it is insulated, but HVAC is rarely used due to extreme cost of delivering fuel/electricity. So it sounds like no matter what, oak planks are goint to noodle?

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11147 posts in 3666 days

#5 posted 11-19-2013 08:52 PM

Yep, they probably will.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View WDHLT15's profile


1797 posts in 2713 days

#6 posted 11-20-2013 02:31 AM

I have sawn and dried thousands of BF of oak. It is one of the better behaving woods if your sticker stack is level and you sticker on a 24” or less spacing. Some of the flat sawn boards first off the log will cup, but by and large, it is an easy wood to dry flat with a proper air drying stack. I have posted this pic before, but here is an example of a proper air drying stack. The base has to be dead level, and the stickers should line up with the cross supports. This stack is sycamore, a notoriously difficult wood to dry straight.

I would not be concerned with flat sawing the oak. I have seen many very poorly constructed and stacked air drying stacks, and this has more to do with the flatness of drying than the orientation of the cut in oak. Stack the highest grade boards on the bottom as you build the stack and end up with the lowest grade boards on top. The weight of the lower grade boards will serve as weight for the better grade to help keep them as flat as possible.

Here is a pic of a stack of about 1000 BF of red oak. You can see how flat the boards are.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Aj2's profile


1950 posts in 2035 days

#7 posted 11-20-2013 03:42 AM

I also have found red and white oak to be very stable.I buy from a lumber yard local so they do all the hard work.
I just don’t care for the look of the wood esp red oak.I almost never pass on work so sometimes I use it.
I say go for it Mr renovater, you just never know because wood is both mysterious and amazing!

-- Aj

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