Quarter Sawn Oak – Seen In New Light

Quarter sawn oak is having its moment in the sun. This classic beauty is reveling in its glory and with good reason. Stylistically, quarter-sawn oak is a grand departure from golden oak reminiscent of bygone eras, convincing those with even the most discriminating taste of its enduring qualities. 

From lakeside homes to downtown lofts, quarter sawn oak cabinetry and flooring is on the scene virtually everywhere. While many are drawn to it, few know what makes quarter sawn oak, quarter sawn (spoiler alert: it’s how the wood is cut.) And, even fewer know the difference between quarter sawn oak and its oak cousins, plain sawn and rift sawn. We’ll pull back the curtain on this gem and share what makes it unique and why it has design devotees singing its praises. 


Characteristics of Oak Wood

Quarter-sawn refers to how wood is cut. When lumber is cut from logs, it is usually cut in one of three ways,  plain sawn, quarter sawn, and rift sawn. The type of cut determines the visual appearance of the wood, and of equal importance, its durability and performance characteristics.

Plain sawn, sometimes dubbed flat sawn, is the most common cut of wood and thus, the least expensive. When you think of oak, you most likely visualize plain sawn. The face of the wood showcases a cathedral pattern. It is more traditional in nature and is often dubbed “grainy.” 

Quarter sawn wood features a straight grain pattern when cut. In production, logs are sawed at a radial angle into four quarters, giving it the name quarter sawn. 

Rift sawn is yet another cut of wood that is the most expensive among the three. It is cut perpendicular to the log’s growth rings, which creates a linear grain pattern with no flecking. Rift sawn cuts produce the most waste, which increases the cost of this wood.



Why It’s So Beloved

We adore quarter-sawn because its timeless look has undeniable staying power that we, as designers, look for when recommending wood species to our homeowners. Selection of wood for flooring and cabinetry is a priority as these elements will be in the home long after wall colors change and furnishings move on. 

Quarter-sawn oak is striking yet neutral enough to be an ideal match for numerous design styles. In cabinetry, it creates a warm character and can take on craftsman charm when paired with a simple shaker cabinet door front, matte black hardware and traditional details. Its clean lines can take on a modern look when paired with a slab front door style. It provides a remarkable yet understated foundation for any design when installed in flooring and its beautiful texture adds to its appeal. 

From a performance standpoint, quarter-sawn oak continues to deliver. Due to the way it is cut, it is an extremely stable product, resistant to expansion and contraction and moisture penetration. These characteristics, combined with its visual allure, make it hard to resist.   

Quarter-sawn oak creates a warm character with Craftsman charm. It is often seen paired with a simple shaker cabinet door front, oil-rubbed bronze hardware and traditional details.

Quarter Sawn Versus Rift Sawn Versus Plain Sawn : What is the Difference


Is Quater-Sawn Oak Right For You?

Quarter-sawn oak demonstrates that oak can be shown in a whole new light simply by the way it’s cut. Upgrading to quarter sawn can sometimes be less expensive than upgrading to a higher-end wood species depending on the scale and quantity of the cabinetry or flooring.

If you’re considering quarter-sawn oak for your next project, contact our Che Bella Interiors Burnsville, MN designers to discuss how to bring it into your space. We’ll work with you to make your home beautifully yours, from concept to completion. Contact us today!

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