Is quartersawn sycamore stable?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by Purrmaster posted 03-25-2014 02:21 AM 2237 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2270 days

03-25-2014 02:21 AM

I just bought some sycamore at the lumber store. I haven’t worked with it before. This sycamore is quartersawn.

From poking around the web a bit it appears that flatsawn sycamore is extremely unstable. What about quartersawn? I know that quartersawn lumber of any species tends to be more stable than flatsawn. But if sycamore is very unstable naturally, perhaps being quartersawn isn’t enough.

I’ve largely sworn off beech because of it being unstable. I worry I’m in for the same fun.

10 replies so far

View WibblyPig's profile


172 posts in 3451 days

#1 posted 03-25-2014 02:36 AM

Quartersawn sycamore is very stable (and extremely attractive to boot). I have a few boards sitting on various racks in the garage and none have moved/twisted/cupped in any way. The place where I buy my lumber makes the top of his lumber carts and his personal benches out of qsawn sycamore because it doesn’t “catch” wood when it’s tossed onto the surface. The qsawn grain is more fuzzy than splintery so if an edge catches the sycamore, it just slides over the top without gouging.

-- Steve, Webster Groves, MO "A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in."

View Jerry's profile


2850 posts in 1825 days

#2 posted 03-25-2014 02:37 AM

From Woodcraft magazine:

Improperly seasoned sycamore, particularly flatsawn is unstable and will twist and warp. Quartersawn and riftsawn stock is preferred over flatsawn, because it’s not only much more stable, but also far more attractive with its distinctive ray fleck.

Full PDF file here:

-- There are good ships and there are wood ships, the ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are friendships and may they always be.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

29975 posts in 2515 days

#3 posted 03-25-2014 03:20 AM

QS Sycamore is awesome. QS on most wood makes it much more stable.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2270 days

#4 posted 03-25-2014 03:31 AM

Since my shop is (essentially) outdoors I get concerned about wood stability. Mostly because much of the beech I got turned itself into a pretzel in a matter of days.

The only other quartersawn wood I’ve gotten is African Mahogany (in very small quantities).

View WDHLT15's profile


1788 posts in 2653 days

#5 posted 03-25-2014 03:35 AM

Quartersawn is very stable. The flatsawn stuff is definitely not.

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

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3541 days

#6 posted 03-25-2014 03:50 AM

QS Sycamore is very stable. You need to exercise care when planing to avoid tear out. A clear finish works nicely on the amazing grain. Check out my project page to get an idea of what it looks like.

View alohafromberkeley's profile


257 posts in 2581 days

#7 posted 03-25-2014 04:40 AM

The quarter sawing adds tremendous stability to some properly dried stock….QS Sycamore has an amazing ray fleck pattern that really grabs the eye….people have mistaken it for QS Maple, Leopard wood and Lacewood…although once you see QS Sycamore you won’t mistake it for any other wood. It really pops with an oil finish (just my preference)................Wes

-- "After a year of doing general farmwork, it was quite clear to me that chickens and I were not compatible"-George Nakashima

View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2270 days

#8 posted 03-25-2014 07:04 AM

I was wondering about what kind of finish I should put on it. Not all of my boards are the same color. Which actually doesn’t bother me. But I would like to stain it if I can. But I’m reading some horror stories about sycamore blotching very badly. I recently mixed up a batch of garnet shellac so perhaps I’ll use that….

View Vincent Nocito's profile

Vincent Nocito

485 posts in 3541 days

#9 posted 03-25-2014 12:43 PM

I use satin Arm-R-Seal on my QS sycamore projects and don’t worry about the color variation.

View jdh122's profile


1043 posts in 2995 days

#10 posted 03-25-2014 01:15 PM

Take a look at:

This tells you how much various American species shrink from green to oven-dry in both flatsawn and QS wood. It will not help you judge whether a species tends to cup, warp etc as it dries, but it is useful for judging how much the wood will expand and contract seasonally (because a wood that shrinks more as it dries from green will tend to move more seasonally, all things being equal). QS sycamore seems to be about in the middle for QS domestic hardwoods.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics