"Quercus Alba", is one of the most commonly used North American hardwood lumber species. It is a regular choice for cabinets, flooring, furniture, doors, barrels, millwork, mouldings, etc. It is strong, water resistant, and has excellent working properties. It is also one of the more commonly requested species to be sawn as rift and quartered.
The special grain presentation that rift and quartered white oak offers is appealing to designers and architects alike. Many times rift and quartered white oak can be difficult to source and relatively expensive. But why?
In general, white oak, and other species are cut in three ways by sawmills. The first one is flat sawn or plain sawn which is the most common cutting technique. When used in cabinets or in flooring this presents a grain pattern that is peaked or what is sometimes referred to as a cathedral pattern. Flat sawn manufacturing allows the sawmill to maximize yield and create lumber more efficiently.
Quarter-sawing and rift-sawing are two other sawing techniques. The rift and quartered sawing technique requires a unique sawing pattern that is not the most efficient for cutting a log. It requires the sawyer to spend more time handling each log and typically creates 50% more waste compared to a flat sawing pattern. Because of this, rift and quartered lumber is known to be more expensive and harder to find since fewer sawmills cut logs this way.
Rift and quartered lumber, although sawn slightly differently, are usually manufactured together as compliments of one another. Rift sawn lumber, also known as straight grain, is cut at the sawmill with the grains intersecting the face of the board at an angle between 30 and 60 degrees and quarter sawn lumber is cut with the grains intersecting the face board the board at an angle between 60 and 90 degrees. Both of these sawing techniques produce boards with a straight or linear grain pattern throughout the board. To accomplish this, the log is sawn into four quarters, (hence the name quarter sawn), and each quarter of the log is sawn perpendicular to the growth rings.
Another desirable attribute of rift and quartered lumber is the possible presentation of a ribbon like visual effect that is created from small capillaries inside the wood referred to as its medullary rays. These rays produce a distinct wavy visual effect to the lumber that is known as “flecking” that only appears in quarter sawn lumber, (not rift).
American Lumber regularly has rift and quartered lumber in stock. If you are in need of this type of special product, let us know. We would be happy to search our current inventory listings and what might be coming out of the kilns.
American Lumber Company