Red Oak Lumber #3: Quartersawing a BIG red oak log

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Blog entry by HalDougherty posted 09-03-2011 04:42 PM 8555 reads 0 times favorited 4 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Quartersawn red oak - The Lumber Part 3 of Red Oak Lumber series no next part

Here’s a photo and a description of how I sawed a huge red oak log to get the most quartersawn lumber from it with the least waste. My saw has a 34” capacity at the widest point, but the bolts holding the adjustable guide for the blade reduce that some and I had to use my chainsaw a couple of times to get enough clearance for the widest part of the log. The throat opens to make a 29.5” cut at the widest point. (If you take off part of the lube system)

The red lines show the horizontal saw cuts to divide the log into cants. The green lines are the saw cuts to saw the cants into quartersawn & riff sawn lumber. Each slab is numbered in the order I removed them from the log. This isn’t the ideal way to quartersaw lumber, but was the only practical way to cut this large log on a manual sawmill and get the most 8” or wider quartersawn boards. I also marked each section as R-Riff sawn or Q-Quartersawn so you can see where the growth rings show on the end of the board. A lot of the riff sawn boards show a riff sawn pattern on one side and a quartersawn pattern on the other.

The log is 38” in diameter at the widest point, before I attacked the wide parts with my chainsaw, and 9’ 6” long. My log deck will handle a 20’ log, but I have no interest in sawing a log 38” in diameter and 20’ long. The weight is just too much. Looks like I’m going to cut my larger logs to 10’ 6” from now on.

After I got the log loaded, which was an adventure too, I raised the saw head to it’s highest position and then adjusted the blade to take the widest cut possible. I took off an 8” slab (slab 1) and stacked it by the mill. Then I dropped the head down another 8” and took off a huge slab. (Slab 2) It must have weighed 600 to 800 lbs. I slid it sideways and used my log arch to pick it up and set it beside the mill with the other slab. Then I used my engine hoist to flip the 1/2 log, dropped the head again and took off another slab. (slab 3) This slab was thicker because the log wasn’t as rounded on this end and I could take a deeper cut. The fatter slab on top would have hit the drive belt if I’d gone deeper. Remember, my Timberking 1220 is a manual sawmill and there are no hydraulics to help load logs & cants. I used a log arch and an engine hoist to load and turn the logs. I plan to build a saw shed over my sawmill and put a steel beam down the length of the log deck where I’ll attach a pulley and use my electric winch to load and turn logs.

After making my cants, I cut the center slab into two cants, removed a 4” x 8” beam with the pith centered and cut the two cants into quartersawn lumber. (slab 4 & 5) Then I put the other cants back on the log deck and cut them into quartersawn lumber. I would have cut this log like the diagram shows on the Woodmizer site, or quartered it and put a 45 degree jig under the pointy end and cut all quartersawn lumber, but my saw head wouldn’t do it with a log this big. If the log was slightly larger, I would have split it into two cants before I started and if it was slightly smaller I would have used the Woodmizer method. I haven’t measured the amount of riff and quartersawn lumber I ended up with, but my narrowest board is 8” wide.
Any riff sawn board smaller than that or that was mostly sapwood got cut into stickers.

I’m making this series of blog posts for everyone who’d like to own their own sawmill and who would like some information about how to operate a manual mill and the equipment needed to transport, load, and turn big logs.

-- Hal, Tennessee

4 comments so far

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

25937 posts in 4118 days

#1 posted 09-03-2011 10:10 PM

Wow, that is a big log. It is nice to have a saw mill when the wood becomes available.
Thanks for showing it, Hal!!.........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Uriel7's profile


24 posts in 3526 days

#2 posted 09-04-2011 03:23 AM

Very nice. Keep blogging and I’ll keep reading. I’ve been falling dead trees since I could walk and always wanted to mill them into lumber instead of just cut up for firewood. It’s a pity because I’ve split many a good hardwood tree into firewood simply because of ignorance on how to mill my own lumber. I’m always told that it is hard and expensive and that you might as well go down to the lumber stores. This is definitely something I want to do.

View exelectrician's profile


2339 posts in 3440 days

#3 posted 11-16-2011 01:11 AM

Ahhh…. this machine explains where you get all those super nice pieces of wood.

-- Love thy neighbour as thyself

View Nate Meadows's profile

Nate Meadows

1132 posts in 3219 days

#4 posted 05-24-2012 12:19 PM


That is impressive and awesome!


-- "With a little bit of faith, and some imagination, you can build anything!" Nate

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