DIY Dictionary: Quarter-Sawn Lumber

What’s quarter-sawn lumber? A board is considered ‘quarter-sawn’ when the growth rings run, more or less, perpendicular to the face of the board….

quarter-sawn wood illustrationIllustration by Melanie Powell, from “Woodworking FAQ” by Spike Carlsen (Story Publishing, 2012)

What is Quarter-Sawn Lumber?

A board is considered “quarter-sawn” when the growth rings run, more or less, perpendicular to the face of the board. Quarter-sawn boards generally have straight grain and are less prone to shrinkage, compared to other boards. These factors don’t come into play with the 2x4s you use to frame a closet—but it does with the shelves and cabinetry you put into that closet; you want those boards to remain straight, flat and stable.

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Some quarter-sawn boards, especially those of white oak, exhibit gorgeous rays or flecks; a hallmark of much Craftsman-style furniture. Because of their stability and beauty, quarter-sawn boards are often actively sought out by woodworkers—meaning they may also come with a heftier price tag.

Illustration by Melanie Powell, from “Woodworking FAQ” by Spike Carlsen (Story Publishing, 2012)