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.
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)