plain sawn yield any quater or rift sawn type board?

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Forum topic by Chris Peroni posted 03-13-2013 08:01 PM 3317 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Chris Peroni

101 posts in 2993 days

03-13-2013 08:01 PM

Am I thinking of this right? If a board is plain sawn does the centermost board (the one which is cut closest to the diameter line) exhibit the features of a quarter or rift sawn board? Perhaps if this board is ripped in half each length would be so? Or is there something I’m getting mixed up on?

Using these diagrams to differentiate quarter and rift- as I know there is some mixing of definitions- but for the ease of understanding what we are describing please consider these when referencing a cut type:

-- Never discourage anyone...who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. -Plato

9 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6925 posts in 3548 days

#1 posted 03-13-2013 08:08 PM

No, you are correct….if the flat sawn logs yield some of the qtr sawn and rift sawn pieces.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 3127 days

#2 posted 03-13-2013 10:06 PM

It is my understanding that the direct center ring would need to be cut out. that would mean there are two rift sawn, and or 6 quarter sawn boards in each plainsawn log.

-- Who is John Galt?

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3530 days

#3 posted 03-14-2013 03:01 AM

Actually what is labeled as plain sawn is also known as “Livesawn”. That means that you just cut through the log. That way, you get a mix of flatsawn, riftsawn, and quartersawn. With flatsawn, you slice the board out parallel to the growth rings. This is what gives you the chevrons or cathedral pattern so commonly seen in red oak and ash. You keep turning the log to different faces until you run out of log. With flatsawn where the log is continually turned to a new face, there is no quartersawn and very little rift sawn.

Also what is shown in the diagram as riftsawn, most of the boards are actually quartersawn because the rings are perpendicular or 90 degrees to the face of the board, which is by definition quartersawn. By definition, rift sawn lumber has the rings 45 degrees to the board face.

I know that it is confusing. You have to think in terms of the orientation of the growth rings to the flat face of the board.

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

View newwoodbutcher's profile


854 posts in 3905 days

#4 posted 03-14-2013 07:21 AM

Good question and responses. Thank you all.

-- Ken

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 3127 days

#5 posted 03-14-2013 05:59 PM

WDHLT15 I think you got it backwards there. The deffenition of rift sawn is sawed directly perpendicular to the grain. It produces a specific grain and stability structure, but a lot of waste, and is a name that should be more associated with the product than the technique, as you can use many techniques to get all or some riftsawn boards. Quartersawn is sawn in quarters. It provides wood that is mostly perpendicular to the grain, with a similar grain and stability structure as rift, but with the grain closer to 45degree to the face, and a better yeild.(As well as more of the medullary rays, or flecking) It is a term that should be more associated with the technique. It does produce some rift sawn, but has now been used to descibe a product as well. I believe this is because although similar, you should not be able to call all of the wood from this method rift, even though it has quite similar properties, and to add to the confusion, you can get some quarter sawn wood from the other techniques, kinda muddling the issue. Plain and Live sawn does yeild quartersawn and riftsawn wood out of the center cuts, as your say. Check here for the number of images that support my deffinition of rift and quartered, and the fact that you have modern, old, and many different quartersawing techniques.(Ironically I use the wiki defenition for rift, but under quartered the show an image of live/plane sawn and call it quartered… completely ignoring how quartering got it’s name. but there are many other opinions to support the definition of rift) Live sawn, IMO, is more specific to the proceedure than the board, and live and plain sawn are often interchanged. What you call flat sawn I know also as grade sawn. Grade sawn is the more proceedural term that might be used with quarter, rift, and other sawing techniqes, although Both refer more to how the log is sawn based on what it looks like from the outside, and through the proceedure, rather than sawing for a specific grain structure. Grade sawn would produce a lot of flat sawn lumber, but could end up producing quartered and rift, but live sawing will always produce some quartered, rift and flat sawn boards and is also the favored method for overall yeild. Read here for info on that.(for those interested) Now I did not grow up in a lumberjacking family, and you do this every day, so let me say this is just from my experience and research, it does not take into account regionallity or that this is mostly semantics, and is written from the perspective of an enduser in Tejas… I use the wood each day that you produce each day. I am open to the fact I may be completely wrong, but this is how the difference between the two has always been taught to me. Just try explaining it to an interior designer… that is the real feat!! ;)

-- Who is John Galt?

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3530 days

#6 posted 03-15-2013 12:42 PM

The problem is in semantics. The terms plainsawn, riftsawn and quartersawn can describe the technique of sawing. This is the case in the terms that are being used on the diagrams. When you talk about an individual board, the terms flatsawn, riftsawn, and quartersawn refer to the orientation of the growth rings to the flat face of the board. My definitions of flatsawn, riftsawn, and quartersawn refer to the growth ring orientation and not the sawing technique.

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

View Ken90712's profile


17984 posts in 4243 days

#7 posted 03-15-2013 05:23 PM

Always a fun topic….

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View bannerpond1's profile


397 posts in 2953 days

#8 posted 03-15-2013 06:06 PM

While you can describe the operation to yield flat sawn, rift sawn, or quarter sawn wood, the outcome is measured by the angle of the growth rings to the face of the resulting board. When rings are closest to 90 degrees to the face, you have quarter sawn wood. Rift sawn is approximately 45 degrees. Plain or flat sawn boards are less than 45 and all the way to parallel.

Rift sawn is sought for table legs due to the growth rings’ being the same on every face. Unlike a quarter sawn table leg, which has two opposite faces with cathedral arches and two with ray flecks, rift sawn wood has four identical sides. Having said all that, I have a procedure to quarter saw logs which is unlike the above method. Granted, you get less quarter sawn wood, but you also get less waste.

A huge benefit is getting 3×3’s or 4×4’s which have very little bow to them when they’re dry. That’s because the 45 degree growth rings even out the tendancy to move as they dry. Out of the dozen legs I harvested on my last three logs, only one of them bowed during drying. That can be cut into shorter pieces and the bow easily taken out.

I’m new to the site and can’t get the photobucket to recognize me, so if you want to see how I quarter saw, email me at [email protected] and I’ll attach a photo with directions. Once you saw this way, you won’t flat saw again. For my part, plain sawn lumber is good for door panels and that’s about it.

-- --Dale Page

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 4357 days

#9 posted 03-15-2013 09:06 PM

NHLA Grading booklet splains it up good. Or try the Frank Miller Glossary. Frank Miller is quartersawn supplier to the stars. Enjoy.

Steve, On Wisconsin

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

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