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Design Discussion: Wood Cuts

Explore which cut of wood is the best choice for your next project! 

When wood is cut from logs, it is most commonly cut three different ways: plain sawn, rift sawn, or quarter sawn. Cutting wood with different techniques will produce different characteristics and effects in the wood.  Here, we’ll discuss the most common cuts of wood, and how they vary in appearance and price.

Plain Sawn

Plain sawn is the most common type of wood cut.  When using plain sawn technique, wood is sliced in parallel planks through the center, so that the angles of the rings are no more than 35 degrees.  This cutting results in varied grain patterns, visible knots and cathedral patterns.  Because plain sawn wood is easy to produce and does not involve much waste, it is the most affordable and common wood cut available.  While plain sawn wood costs will vary based on the type of wood selected, this cut is the most inexpensive.

Plain sawn oak cabinetry by Ciuffo Cabinetry, photograph by Marco Ricca.

Plain sawn walnut island countertop, custom stained by Ciuffo Cabinetry.

Quarter Sawn

Quarter sawn wood is more expensive than plain sliced wood because it takes more time and labor to create and results in more waste than plain sawn wood.  Quarter sawn wood is produced by cutting a log into four quarters before plain sawing each quarter.  This results in a unique, straight grain pattern. Visible flecking can also be present in quarter sawn wood, depending on which type of wood is being utilized (such as Red and White Oak). Quarter sawn wood will vary in price based on the type of wood selected, but it is always more expensive than plain sliced wood.

Quarter sawn oak cabinetry. Cabinetry by Ciuffo Cabinetry, home built by Abstract Builders, Interior Design by Jaclyn Baldari, Photograph by Paul Domzal.

Quarter sawn walnut kitchen island. Cabinetry by Ciuffo Cabinetry, Home built by Paramount Custom Homes.

Rift Sawn

While prices will vary based on the type of wood selected, rift sawn wood is the most expensive cut of wood to purchase.  This is because it requires the most time, labor, and lumber to produce in comparison to plain sawn and quarter sawn wood.  Rift sawn wood is manufactured by cutting perpendicular to the log’s rings, producing a consistently straight linear grain patter without any flecking.  This unique, straight grain pattern is valued for its vertical design applications.

Rift sawn oak cabinetry, custom stained. Cabinetry by Ciuffo Cabinetry.

Rift sawn oak island, custom stained. Cabinetry by Ciuffo Cabinetry, home built by Abstract Builders, Interior Design by Jaclyn Baldari, Photograph by Paul Domzal.