Product Info   :   Hardwood Cuts


Sawmills have several different ways of cutting timber into hardwood planks. Each sawing method will produce a different look and have an impact on the stability of your floor. The three traditional types of milled wood flooring are plainsawn, quartersawn and riftsawn lumber.


Plainsawn (or flat-sawn) is where the timber is cut with the grain running across the width of the plank. Plainsawn wood highlights the grain, loops and growth swirls of the wood. This method is the most economical because it produces the widest boards with very little waste - approximately 80% of hardwood is milled this way. Plainsawn lumber will tend to expand and contract more across the width of the board due to the flat-grain patterns.  Click here to see an example of the pronounced grain patterns.


Quartersawn lumber is produced by first quartering the log and then sawing perpendicular to the growth rings (60 to 90 degrees). This process produces relatively narrow boards with vertical grains. The vertical grains make Quartersawn hardwood more stable than Plainsawn hardwoods but the process isn’t as efficient and produces more waste making Quartersawn hardwood more expensive to produce.


Riftsawn lumber is very similar to Quartersawn lumber and has many of the same benefits but the wood is cut at a slightly different angle (30 to 60 degrees) that accentuates the vertical grain and minimizes the flake effect that is common in Quartersawn lumber. Riftsawn timber generally has a very consistent vertical grain pattern throughout each plank. Unfortunately this process produces a lot of waste and the low yield has made Riftsawn lumber a rarity at the lumber yard.

Rift and Quartered

There is a fourth method for sawing hardwood that produces both Quartersawn and Riftsawn boards. The logs are cut into quarters and then each quarter is flipped ninety degrees back and forth to saw off a plane of wood. This process does not have the waste that traditional Quartersawn and Riftsawn techniques have but it does require extra time to flip the quarters back and forth. Riftsawn and Quartersawn hardwoods are up to 50% more stable than Plainsawn hardwoods and are often preferred by woodworkers and furniture-makers because of the stability. Click here to see a closeup of a hardwood floor with these types of planks.