How Logs are Cut.

Plainsawn Log

The lumberyard I go to cuts everything plainsawn.  Most places do, since this is much easier for the mill and doesn’t waste any wood.  The faces of the boards show cathedral like grain patterns often showcased in panels on doors, etc.

One problem with plainsawn boards is that they have a greater tendency to warp.  Think of a log as having a bunch of rubber bands around it – this creates a tension in the board to want to pull towards the center.  When boards are cut away, this tension is still in them, and they warp towards the heartwood, or center.

Quartersawn Log

Quartersawing is another way to cut out usable lumber.  The emphasis here is to minimize that wood tension.  Most of these cuts work radially from the center, or try to.

This radial cuts is the best since, once the wood is dry, the movement is minimal.  In oak, this also produces rays or flecks.  Woodworkers get all excited about these and they look cool.




Here is another image demonstrating tangential vs radial cuts.

Luckily, in the grain is straight, this prized radial cutting doesn’t require any sawing at all.  Since the wood tends to split along those grain lines. Especially with the help of a froe.

Of course, you could do this anywhere if you were really into it.

I don’t have a froe, nor do I really think I’d use one enough (although some careful thought and wedges could produce good results too.).  I did take advantage of an oak tree taken down in the neighborhood a while back though.  Picking up some of the straighter logs from the roadside pile.  I just used a maul to quarter the logs best I could.  I didn’t have any wedges (either iron, or wood harder than the oak) so I cut end up cutting on the bandsaw.   I kept to the radial lines as much as possible. And here are the results.    Lots of neat rays in the oak.

I cut these months ago, and they’re now dry enough to mill square.


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