Plain sawn lumber is also commonly referred to as “flat sawn”. This is the most common and widely used method of sawing. Plain sawn lumber is produced by making the first cut on a tangent to the circumference of the log. Each additional cut is then made parallel to one before. This method produces the widest possible boards with the least amount of log waste. Therefore, it is more economical in comparison to the other sawing techniques utilized within the industry. Plain sawn lumber offers a distinct cathedral effect to the grain on the face of the boards.
Quarter sawn lumber is produced by first quartering the log followed by sawing it perpendicular to the annual growth rings. This particular method of sawing produces a nice straight grain appearance on the face of the board. In many species, this technique of sawing makes the medullary rays visible on the face of the board in the form of “flake”. In Mahogany, this technique produces what is commonly know as “ribbon stripe”. Quarter sawn lumber creates more log waste and therefore the end result of narrower boards in relation the plain sawn technique.
The technique of rift sawing is very similar to that of quarter sawing producing similar limitations and advantages. During rift sawing, the quartered log portion is turned slightly off perpendicular before cutting to not expose the medullary ray in an effort to minimize the amount of “flake” on the face of the board. Rift sawing produces a virtually straight grain appearance on the face of the board with little to no visible “flake”. The rift sawing technique also produces a measurable amount of log waste and yields narrower boards in relation to plain sawn lumber.