I have this Q&A that has received a lot of attention.

What are the common cut patterns used to mill a log into boards?

The problem is the community, and the internet it seems, are having an issue with grain difference between quarter sawn and rift sawn boards. Looking at the cutting diagram I thought it was obvious that the rift sawn has the complete vertical grain as it is cut radially around the log. This appears to be incorrect.

I don't want to get into a war over the right terms in comments. This is what meta is for.

I need guidance as to how to fix this so as to not lead other users astray. One suggestion is to break out the different cut appearances into another question. The controversy, I think, would still exist in that new question.

  • Isn't this why we have multiple answers and voting on a question? If someone disagrees with you, they should post their own answers.
    – Joe
    Mar 26 '15 at 16:19
  • @Joe this is true but the answers would contradict each other so I was worried of the implications. Separating the questions seemed to help
    – Matt
    Mar 26 '15 at 19:28

I've been looking into this over the past couple days and found a reference on Wikipedia that suggests the terms quarter sawn and rift sawn historically matched your interpretation, but that the terms have been misused to the point that their meanings have been swapped.

Rift sawing (radially sawing) is a technique of cutting boards from logs radially so the annual rings are nearly 90° to the faces. When rift-sawn, each piece is cut along a radius of the original log, so that the saw cuts at right angles to the tree's growth rings. Quarter sawn is defined as boards made by sawing a log into quarters and then sawing out boards in parallel cuts with varying angles of the sides to the growth rings up to 30°, 45° or 60° from the annual rings. However, quarter-sawn and rift-sawn are used with opposite meanings and as synonyms so there is confusion about their meanings.

So in summary, you are technically correct in your interpretation, but apparently "conventional wisdom" has rewritten modern books and references with a different interpretation.

  • The etymology would seem to support this interpretation too, as quarter-sawn involves the logs being cut into quarters.
    – Doresoom
    Mar 26 '15 at 18:02
  • Thanks for the answer. This helps me understand why the difference exists. I was worried that I might be posting incorrect information and misleading the community. I feel better now.
    – Matt
    Mar 26 '15 at 19:08

This answer is doubled in the other meta post Wood usage question

So don't know if I have done the best job but to start I have broken up my answers into 2 parts as best I can

Covers milling only: What are the common cut patterns used to mill a log into boards?

Board appearance and usage: What are the different uses for plain sawn (flat sawn), rift sawn, and quarter sawn boards?

I plan on improving both unless there are better answers as I dont want to copy.

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