Design Definitions: Plain Sawn, Quarter Sawn and Rift Sawn

Rift sawn white oak island with a distressed finish

Rift Sawn White Oak Island with Distressed Finish

Quarter Sawn, rift sawn and plain sawn are technical terms to describe how the tree trunk is cut. These three options are common when selecting cabinetry and flooring for your home remodel. Here is a breakdown of each method and their results, including how wood grains appear on surfaces.

Plain Sawn – Also known as flat sawn, this is the simplest method for cutting wood. It is also the least expensive option as it yields the most wood. However, while more affordable, you have less control over the consistency of the grain.

Quarter Sawn – True to its name, quarter sawn wood is cut lengthwise into quarters and then at an angle to allow for a linear grain pattern. However, because this method is not as simple as plain sawn, it is more expensive.

Rift Sawn – With the rift sawn technique, the wood is cut along the radius of the original log, giving every board a perpendicular grain. This process is beautiful, but produces a great deal of waste which also makes it a more expensive option.

“When it comes to design aesthetics, quarter sawn and rift sawn are more appealing,” said Normandy Designer Kathryn O’Donovan. “In addition to grain consistency, these options can achieve a variety of styles including Scandinavian, Prairie and transitional.”

For more design ideas follow Normandy Remodeling on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or, to get a better sense of the remodeling process, you can register to attend an upcoming seminar. If you are eager to get started on your own home remodel, you can also set up an appointment to meet with Kathryn.

Traditional oak desk and library

Plain Sawn Oak Desk and Library

Quarter sawn oak kitchen with island

Quarter Sawn Oak Kitchen

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