When it comes to buying lumber, there are a lot of different terms and descriptors to keep in mind. Two of the most common terms you might hear when talking about lumber are “rift sawn” and “quarter sawn.” If you’re not familiar with these terms, they might sound like just more jargon to add to the pile. But understanding the difference between rift sawn and quarter sawn lumber can actually be instrumental in making sure that you’re selecting the right piece of wood for your project.
So, what is the difference between these two types of lumber? Essentially, it all comes down to how the wood is cut. With rift sawn lumber, the logs are cut at a slight angle that produces a very straight, uniform grain pattern with no visible medullary rays. Quarter sawn lumber, on the other hand, is produced by cutting logs into quarters and then cutting those quarters into planks. This process results in a unique grain pattern that features visible medullary rays and a distinctive ray fleck figure.
While both rift sawn and quarter sawn lumber have certain benefits, they are also suited to different purposes. Understanding the difference between these types of lumber can be hugely helpful for ensuring that you get the right material for your project and that you’re able to create a beautiful, long-lasting finished product.
Rift Sawn Vs. Quarter Sawn: An Overview
When considering the types of wood available for furniture and construction, the terms “rift sawn” and “quarter sawn” may come up. Both methods of cutting lumber yield some of the highest-quality wood available on the market. Knowing the difference between the two types can help you select the best one for your specific needs.
Key Characteristics of Rift Sawn and Quarter Sawn Wood
- Rift sawn wood is cut at an angle of 30 to 60 degrees from the center of the log, resulting in a straight grain pattern and minimal waste lumber.
- Quarter sawn wood is cut at a 90-degree angle from the center of the log, resulting in a straight grain pattern, more durability and resistance to warping, and a distinctive “fleck” pattern on the wood.
Rift Sawn Wood
Rift sawn wood is the most stable of the three cuts, which include plain sawn and quarter sawn. Its unique straight grain pattern is ideal for matching the grain between adjoining boards. It is also less prone to warping than plain or quarter sawn wood, making it an excellent option for furniture, flooring, and cabinetry that require stability over long periods of time.
Rift sawn wood’s straight grain pattern helps to highlight the wood’s natural characteristics and unique variations in color and texture. Rift sawn wood is the most expensive of the three cuts and requires specific milling techniques to achieve the best results. It is also important to note that rift sawn wood produces more waste than the other two cuts due to the precision required during milling.
Quarter Sawn Wood
Quarter sawn wood, on the other hand, is the most durable and resilient of the three cuts. Its unique grain pattern makes it highly resistant to warping and twisting. This cut is commonly used in the construction of flooring, cabinetry, and furniture, where stability is paramount.
Quarter sawn wood’s distinctive “fleck” pattern makes it a popular choice for interior and exterior decorative accents, such as door and window frames, paneling, and moldings. This cut is also less likely to develop cracks or checking over time, ensuring a long lifespan and minimal maintenance.
Rift sawn and quarter sawn wood have many similarities, but they also have distinct differences that can make one a better choice over the other in specific applications. Ultimately, the right choice depends on the individual project’s requirements and the wood’s intended use.
|Rift Sawn Wood||Quarter Sawn Wood|
|Straight grain pattern||Distinctive “fleck” pattern|
|Most stable of the three cuts||Most durable and resilient of the three cuts|
|Expensive and produces more waste||Lower cost and produces less waste|
By understanding the difference between rift sawn and quarter sawn woods, you can make an informed decision when selecting wood for your next project.
Advantages of Rift Sawn Wood
When it comes to choosing the right wood for your project, there are many options available in the market. One of the most popular methods of sawing lumber is rift sawing, a technique that produces wood with certain unique qualities. Here are some of the advantages of using rift sawn wood:
- Durability: Rift sawn wood is known for its stability and durability. The wood is less prone to warping or twisting over time, making it ideal for use in flooring, cabinets, and furniture that requires stability.
- Appearance: Rift sawn wood has a unique grain pattern that is consistent and straight. This makes it ideal for projects that require a clean and uniform look, such as contemporary furniture, wall paneling, and flooring.
- Less Waste: Rift sawn wood produces less waste compared to other sawing methods, as it yields more wood from each log. This can result in cost savings over time as it reduces the need to purchase additional logs for your project.
Overall, rift sawn wood is an ideal choice for projects that require durability, an attractive appearance, and stability. While it may cost slightly more than other woods due to its unique properties, the benefits of using this type of wood can often justify the additional expense in the long run.
But what about quarter sawn wood? Stay tuned for our next article, where we will be discussing the benefits of this popular sawing method and how it compares to rift sawn wood.
Advantages of Quarter Sawn Wood
When it comes to the choice of wood for furniture or flooring, quarter sawn wood can offer a number of advantages over other cuts. Here are three main benefits to using quarter sawn wood in your projects:
- Stability: Due to the way it is cut, quarter sawn wood expands and contracts less than other cuts, resulting in a more stable and durable piece of furniture or flooring.
- Appearance: Quarter sawn wood has a unique and highly desirable grain pattern, with long straight lines that can give your furniture or flooring a distinctive and aesthetically pleasing look. Additionally, this type of wood tends to have fewer knots and other defects than other cuts.
- Strength: The grain pattern of quarter sawn wood makes it exceptionally strong and resistant to warping, making it an excellent choice for high-stress applications like flooring or table tops.
Ultimately, the choice of wood for your project will depend on a variety of factors, including your budget, the look you’re going for, and the specific needs of your application. But if you’re looking for a wood that is strong, stable, and beautiful, quarter sawn wood is definitely worth considering.
When comparing quarter sawn wood to rift sawn wood, which is another common cut, it’s important to note that quarter sawn wood tends to be more expensive due to the additional waste that results from the cutting process. However, for applications where stability, strength, and appearance are key considerations, many woodworkers feel that the additional cost is well worth it.
|Quarter Sawn Wood||Rift Sawn Wood|
|Strong and stable||Not as strong or stable|
|Distinctive grain pattern||More uniform grain pattern|
|Less susceptible to warping||More susceptible to warping|
|More expensive due to waste||Less expensive due to more efficient cutting process|
Overall, quarter sawn wood can be an excellent choice for projects where strength, stability, and appearance are top priorities, and is well worth considering for your next building or renovation project.
Choosing the Best Wood Cut for Your Project
When it comes to woodworking, choosing the right wood cut can make all the difference in the outcome of your project. Two common types of wood cuts are rift sawn and quarter sawn, each with their own unique characteristics and uses. Here, we will dive deeper into the difference between these two cuts and how to choose the best option for your project.
Rift Sawn vs. Quarter Sawn
- Rift sawn wood is cut at a slight angle perpendicular to the growth rings, creating a straight grain pattern with no visible medullary rays. This type of cut results in more waste than quarter sawn, but it also produces the most stable wood.
- Quarter sawn wood is cut from the log at a 90-degree angle to the growth rings, resulting in a straight grain pattern with visible medullary rays. This cut produces less waste than rift sawn but is less stable due to the alternating grain patterns.
While both cuts result in a straight grain pattern, they differ in appearance and stability. Some prefer the unique look of quarter sawn wood with its visible medullary rays, while others choose rift sawn wood for its stability over time. When choosing which cut to use for your project, consider the intended use and appearance of the final product.
Choosing the Best Cut for Your Project
Choosing the best cut for your project comes down to the intended use and desired appearance. Rift sawn wood is known for its stability and is recommended for projects such as flooring, cabinetry, and furniture that will be subjected to frequent use or changes in temperature and humidity. Quarter sawn wood, on the other hand, is often preferred for decorative uses such as paneling, trim, and furniture accents due to its unique appearance.
For furniture projects, it is important to consider the type of joints you will be using. Quarter sawn wood is recommended for mortise and tenon or dovetail joints due to its strength, while rift sawn wood may not be as suitable for these types of joints.
|Rift Sawn||Quarter Sawn|
|Most stable||Less stable|
|Straight grain pattern||Straight grain pattern with visible medullary rays|
|Recommended for flooring, cabinetry, and furniture subjected to frequent use or changes in temperature/humidity||Recommended for decorative uses such as paneling, trim, and furniture accents|
Ultimately, the choice between rift sawn and quarter sawn wood comes down to personal preferences and the desired outcome of your project. Take into consideration the intended use, appearance, and preferred joinery method to choose the best cut for your project and bring your woodworking vision to life.
Understanding How Wood Cut Affects Wood Characteristics
When it comes to wood, there are several factors that can affect its characteristics and appearance. One of these factors is the way the wood is cut. Rift sawn and quarter sawn are two common ways to cut wood that produce different results.
Rift Sawn Wood
Rift sawn wood is cut at an angle between 30 and 60 degrees to the growth rings of the tree. This angle produces a vertical grain pattern that is consistent throughout the board. This type of cut also produces the most waste because it requires the log to be turned during the cutting process. Rift sawn wood is known for its stability and durability due to the vertical grain pattern, but it is not widely available and can be more expensive than other types of wood.
Quarter Sawn Wood
- Quarter sawn wood is cut at a 90-degree angle to the growth rings of the tree.
- This produces a straight grain pattern and a distinctive figure known as “ray fleck.”
- Quarter sawn wood is also more stable than plain sawn wood because the grain pattern is consistent throughout the board.
Hybrid cuts combine the best of both worlds by using a combination of rift and quarter sawn methods. This produces a consistent grain pattern with a straighter grain line, similar to quarter sawn wood.
Cuts and Grain Patterns
|Plain Sawn||Cathedral||Most waste|
|Rift Sawn||Straight vertical||High waste|
|Quarter Sawn||Straight with “ray fleck”||Lowest waste|
|Hybrid||Straight and consistent||Lower waste than rift sawn|
Understanding the different cuts of wood is essential when selecting the right type of wood for your project. Each cut produces a unique grain pattern and waste level that can affect the durability, stability, and appearance of the wood.
The History of Rift Sawn and Quarter Sawn Cuts
Knowing the history of rift sawn and quarter sawn cuts can help you understand the differences between the two cuts and why they came into existence in the first place.
During the Middle Ages, woodworkers used a technique called “billet sawing” to create boards. This involved sawing a log into quarters and then sawing each quarter into billets, or small pieces of wood. The billets were then sawn into boards with a rip saw. This method created both rift sawn and quarter sawn boards, although the difference between the two wasn’t emphasized at the time.
- Rift sawn boards were once considered to be inferior to other cuts because they had less desirable grain patterns.
- Quarter sawn boards were prized for their stability, durability, and tight grain patterns, which made them ideal for furniture making.
- It wasn’t until the Arts and Crafts movement in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that rift sawn boards gained popularity. Furniture makers, architects, and designers appreciated the unique grain patterns and the fact that the boards were less likely to warp or twist than other cuts of wood.
Today, both rift sawn and quarter sawn cuts are popular among woodworkers and furniture makers, and each cut has its own unique characteristics.
Below is a table comparing the differences between rift sawn and quarter sawn cuts:
|Rift Sawn||Quarter Sawn|
|Grain Pattern||Straight, vertical grain||Tight, straight grain with flecks of medullary rays|
|Stability||More stable than plain sawn or flat sawn||Very stable, less likely to warp or twist|
|Price||Less expensive than quarter sawn||More expensive than rift sawn|
Understanding the history and differences between rift sawn and quarter sawn boards can help you choose the right cut for your specific project and achieve the desired look and stability.
Rift Sawn Vs. Quarter Sawn: Which is More Popular Among Woodworkers?
When it comes to woodworking, the terms “rift sawn” and “quarter sawn” refer to different methods of cutting a log into lumber, each with its unique set of grain patterns, strengths, and characteristics. While both methods have their pros and cons, which one is more popular among woodworkers? Let’s find out.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Rift Sawn Lumber
- Rift sawn lumber has a tight and straight grain, which gives it a clean and modern look.
- It is less likely to warp and expand than other sawing methods, making it ideal for furniture and flooring.
- Rift sawn lumber is also less likely to show the so-called “medullary rays,” which are often seen as iridescent streaks in other cuts of wood.
- On the downside, rift sawn lumber is more challenging and time-consuming to produce, which makes it more expensive.
- It also tends to yield less lumber per log than other sawing methods, which can also increase the cost.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Quarter Sawn Lumber
- Quarter sawn lumber has a unique ray fleck pattern that gives it a traditional, decorative look.
- It is also more durable and stable than other sawing methods, with fewer checks and shakes.
- Quarter sawn lumber is also better at holding paint and finishes, making it ideal for doors, windows, and cabinetry.
- On the downside, quarter sawn lumber can be more expensive than other sawing methods, especially if highly figured wood is desired.
- It also tends to be more wasteful, as the log needs to be rotated for every cut, leaving scraps of wood that cannot be used effectively.
Which is more popular among woodworkers?
Both rift sawn and quarter sawn lumber have their advantages and disadvantages, depending on the intended use and aesthetic preference. While some woodworkers may prefer the clean and modern look of rift sawn lumber, others may opt for the traditional and decorative look of quarter sawn lumber. In general, quarter sawn lumber tends to be used more frequently for cabinetry, built-ins, and architectural millwork, while rift sawn lumber is more common in furniture and flooring. Ultimately, the choice between the two comes down to personal preference, budget, and project requirements.
|Factors to Consider||Rift Sawn Lumber||Quarter Sawn Lumber|
|Grain pattern||Tight and straight||Unique ray fleck pattern|
|Stability||Less likely to warp and expand||More durable and stable|
|Cost||More expensive to produce||Can be more expensive, especially if highly figured wood is desired|
|Uses||Furniture and flooring||Cabinetry, built-ins, and architectural millwork|
Ultimately, whichever method you choose, both rift sawn and quarter sawn lumber have the potential to produce beautiful and long-lasting pieces of woodworking.
What is the difference between rift sawn and quarter sawn?
1. What does “rift sawn” mean?
Rift sawing is a type of lumber-cutting technique that produces boards with a straight grain and a unique appearance. This technique involves sawing the log at a slight angle, resulting in a perpendicular or nearly perpendicular cut to the growth rings.
2. What distinguishes quarter sawn wood from rift sawn wood?
Quarter sawn wood is cut from a log at a 90-degree angle to the growth rings. When a log is quarter-sawn, the annular growth rings of the tree become roughly parallel to the face of the board, resulting in a unique and elegant look. In contrast, rift sawn wood is cut at an angle of 30 to 60 degrees from the log’s center, resulting in a straight grain pattern with a less distinctive pattern.
3. Is one type of sawing better than the other?
Both rift sawn and quarter sawn wood have their advantages and disadvantages depending on their intended use. Quarter sawn wood is known for its exceptional durability, dimensional stability, and unique appearance, making it ideal for flooring, furniture, and cabinet making. In contrast, rift sawn wood produces lumber with a more consistent grain pattern, making it popular for specialized applications like chair legs, tool handles, and sporting goods.
4. What is the difference in price between rift sawn and quarter sawn wood?
Quarter sawn wood is typically more expensive than rift sawn wood due to the more labor-intensive cutting process required to produce it. However, the unique look and superior quality of quarter sawn wood makes it a worthwhile investment for many furniture and flooring projects.
5. Can you tell the difference between rift sawn and quarter sawn material just by looking at it?
Yes, you can! Rift sawn wood typically has a straight grain with a less distinctive pattern, while quarter sawn wood has a more prominent medullary ray pattern and a unique appearance.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about the difference between rift sawn and quarter sawn wood. Whether you’re a woodworker, furniture maker, or simply interested in the topic, understanding the differences in sawing techniques can help you make informed decisions about which type of lumber to use for your next project. Visit again for more informative articles!