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What Is Quarter Sawn Wood?

Woodworkers and designers prize quarter sawn hardwood for its straight grain, which makes it highly stable and also beautiful. Its distinctive look makes it an excellent option for countless design styles, but you can expect narrow board widths and higher prices.

How Is Quarter Sawn Hardwood Cut?

While plain sawn wood is sawn with parallel cuts across the log to most efficiently use the lumber, quarter sawn wood is cut in a more complicated way to create straight-grained boards that are more dimensionally stable. First, the log is cut lengthwise into quarters, then each quarter is cut so that the annual rings are as close as possible to perpendicular to the face of each board. As the graphic makes clear, this method results in narrower boards, which is a limitation to be aware of when working with quarter sawn wood.

Why Does Quarter Sawn Wood Cost More?

You can expect to pay a premium for quarter sawn hardwood due to its limited availability. The cutting method results in more waste, so there are fewer boards cut from each log compared to plain sawn lumber. Additionally, only a relatively small number of suppliers produce quarter sawn hardwood. The combination of these factors results in a limited supply, and accordingly, prices are higher.

Why Use Quarter Sawn Wood?

Quarter sawn hardwood is highly regarded for its dimensional stability and its unique beauty. Vertical end grains give this cut of lumber high stability, making it resistant to moisture and resulting in a product that exhibits minimal expansion and shrinkage and won’t warp or cup. Its narrow, straight grain also provides an attractive, characteristic look that is valued for furniture, flooring, and musical instruments. When quarter sawn, oak displays particularly attractive flecking (sometimes called ribbons), as do cherry and maple.

Is Quarter Sawn Hardwood Still a Green Option?

Since quarter sawn hardwood produces more waste, is it less environmentally friendly than plain sawn lumber? The good news is that quarter sawn wood is still a green choice, as no part of the log goes to waste. Wood chips are made into paper, bark is turned into mulch, and sawdust is used to fuel drying kilns. Solid wood is a design option you can feel good about.

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