Intro to Hardwood Lumber Cuts

When choosing hardwood flooring, one of the factors that has the biggest impact on your floor’s overall look is the way the lumber was cut. Hardwood lumber is typically cut in one of three ways, referred to as plain-sawn, quarter-sawn, or rift-sawn, each of which yields its own distinct grain pattern. In this article, our team at Zack Hardwood Flooring will go over each of these hardwood lumber cuts to help you decide which one is right for your vision.

  • Plain-sawn- Plain-sawn is the most common hardwood lumber cut, and the one that creates the least waste and yields the widest boards. With this method, boards are sawn across the whole log in one of two ways: either the log is cut in horizontal layers, or it is first squared off and then sawn into boards across the faces of the beam, gradually moving in towards the core. Both methods produce boards with undulating patterns known as cathedrals.

hardwood lumber cuts to help you decide which one is right for your vision

  • Quarter-sawn- This hardwood lumber cut first splits the log into four quarters, which are then sawn separately. The quarter-logs are either sawn on the diagonal, or across their flat faces. Both methods produce boards with a narrow, consistent grain that stands at a 90-degree angle to the board’s face. In many cases, quarter-sawn lumber also produces shiny flecks or “figure” that make it an attractive option to many.
  • Rift-sawn- The most expensive hardwood lumber cut is rift-sawn wood. In this cut, the annular rings of the wood are approximately 30-60 degrees to the face of the board, though 45 degrees is considered optimal. The added expense is due to the fact that only a small number of boards per log can achieve this grain pattern—many people, however, find the consistency of this cut’s grain pattern to be well worth the cost.

At Zack Hardwood Flooring, we provide a variety of beautiful woods in all of the above hardwood lumber cuts. If you’d like to see the different grains in person or you have questions about which is right for you, you can reach out to our team at Zack Hardwood Flooring to set up a consultation.