A Note About Materials

If you’re not familiar with terms like quartersawn and plainsawn, here’s a quick explanation to help you understand the terms.

Quartersawn white oak is the traditional choice of materials in American Arts and Crafts furniture, chosen both for looks and for stability. Quartersawn oak shows a strong linear grain pattern on the faces of boards, with highly variable “ray flecks” that are characteristic of furniture in the Arts and Crafts style.

Quartersawing a log yields boards whose cross-sections are perpendicular to the ring growth of the log. This technique is slower (and therefore more expensive), but it yields the most structurally stable wood, which best resists the forces of humidity that cause plainsawn lumber to cup and bow. By comparison, plainsawn lumber yields an eliptical “cathedral” grain, and is the most susceptible to the forces of humidity. I avoid plainsawn oak because I cannot guarantee its behavior over time.

In between quartersawn and plainsawn is riftsawn. A cross-section of a riftsawn board shows growth rings at an angle to the width of the board. This yields strongly linear grain on the faces and edges of the board, but without the ray flecks of quartersawn oak. Riftsawn oak is not quite as stable as quartersawn, but it’s more stable than plainsawn.

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