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Edge grain countertop -- plain sawn vs rift sawn?

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Forum topic by woodsandwords posted 07-01-2019 06:07 PM 962 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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woodsandwords

5 posts in 891 days


07-01-2019 06:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hardwood countertop grain orientation milling edge grain

Hello,

I am looking into making a hardwood kitchen countertop. I see some places recommend ripping the wood and orienting the edge of the board up for stability. What I’m wondering is if that is mainly a technique for making plain sawn material more stable—in other words, is this trying to reproduce the long, straight grain orientation created by rift sawn milling? If I have access to both plain sawn and rift sawn lumber, would it be worth the time and expense to orient the edge grain up in either case?

I know this depends partly on the price of material, so rather than getting too deep into $$$ calculations, I would clarify that the main driving factor here is stability/longevity of the countertop. I suppose that the edge sawn technique also allows for making a thicker countertop, in that you could buy 4/4 lumber and rip it to 1-1/4” and end up with a 1-1/4” thick countertop… but if I have access to 6/4 rift sawn would it make sense to just join together fairly narrow strips of that (maybe 2-3”) without reorienting? Or still better to have edge grain up? (I’m not considering end grain/butcher block options).

Hope that all makes sense and I appreciate any feedback!


6 replies so far

View Bill_Steele's profile

Bill_Steele

779 posts in 3023 days


#1 posted 07-01-2019 07:04 PM

I think you’re right—the edge grain (assuming plain sawn lumber) will give you straight grain that you would typically see in quarter-sawn and rift sawn lumber. There may also be some benefit in orienting the wood this way for expansion/contraction. I think wood expands/contracts more across the grain than length-wise or thick-wise(?).

End grain would be different in both looks and functionality (somewhat self-healing).

I think the rift sawn lumber looks nice, but it will likely be more expensive per board foot than plain sawn. Maybe you’ll need less of it than plain sawn? I think it primarily comes down to what you want the end result to look like. Do you want it to look more like a table top or butcher block?

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

6217 posts in 4535 days


#2 posted 07-01-2019 09:27 PM

The problem would be expansion/contraction when ripping the wood, whether it be rift or plain sawn. You would have to rip the stock and let it sit a while before finishing it to a final dimension before gluing it up into a panel. The up/down grain pattern would still be mandatory and maybe a final planing/sanding after glue up to achieve a flat surface. Remember counter tops are exposed to moisture and you don’t want a counter top to warp. That is why counter tops are made of plywood or MDF with a plastic laminate surface; stability. Sure hardwood counter tops look nice, but I wouldn’t want to have to deal with a warped top down the line.

View CWWoodworking's profile

CWWoodworking

2298 posts in 1470 days


#3 posted 07-02-2019 12:20 AM


You would have to rip the stock and let it sit a while before finishing it to a final dimension before gluing it up into a panel.
- MrRon

Why?

OP, I have a 24” wide butcher block made from plain sawn poplar(4/4) turned on edge. sawed it to 1.5”, glued it up, and sanded it smooth. It has laid flat and worked perfectly for 15 years. It gets heavy use.

I think I used TB2 for glue.

View Woodknack's profile

Woodknack

13585 posts in 3671 days


#4 posted 07-02-2019 06:43 AM


Hello,

I am looking into making a hardwood kitchen countertop. I see some places recommend ripping the wood and orienting the edge of the board up for stability.
- woodsandwords


It used to be called rip & flip, ripping flatsawn into strips, flipping, and regluing into a QS panel for more stability. Tage Frid recommended gluing bark side to bark side, heartside to heartside, so the seams are expanding and contracting equally otherwise you can get a step over time. This happened to me on a table I built last year with rip & flip top. You can’t see it but if you run your fingernail across the top you can feel a slight catch at one of the seams because I goofed and glued them up the wrong way around.

-- Rick M, http://thewoodknack.blogspot.com/

View Robert's profile

Robert

4799 posts in 2772 days


#5 posted 07-02-2019 02:57 PM

Yes orienting the edges up will simulate quartersawn as Woodknack said.

With 6/4 the same principle applies.

I think having the thicker top will look much better and well worth the effort. The extra $$’s it might take will soon be forgotten.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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woodsandwords

5 posts in 891 days


#6 posted 07-02-2019 10:16 PM

All good thoughts, thank you! I will try the Tage Frid technique as suggested by Woodknack.

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