There’s more than one way to cut wood, with each method presenting different pros and cons. The methods include plainsawn, riftsawn, and quartersawn.
Plainsawn wood is the simplest and most straightforward, and maximizes the amount of wood that can be “harvested” from a single log. Basically, it involves making parallel cuts. This yields many rectangular boards with very little waste wood. It also shows the grain patterns, or concentric rings, of the log. Unfortunately, the wood is more prone to expanding or contracting.
Riftsawn wood, on the other hand, cuts the log in such a way that the boards have the same grain pattern. It is considered to be more “stable” and less prone to warping. Unfortunately, the process has a lot of wasted wood, namely wedge-shaped scraps that have very limited use. That is why it is very rare to see riftsawn wood.
Quartersawn wood, on the other hand, is made by chopping the wood into quarters before making parallel cuts that lie in a perpendicular angle to the rings of the tree. Though it has less wastage than riftsawn wood, it is still stable. It also retains some of the beautiful wavy patterns and rays that can be seen in plainsawn wood.
Quartersawn wood is more expensive than plainsawn wood, but it is thought to deliver greater quality and durability in the long term. In fact, most craftsmen prefer quartersawn wood. Instrument makers, for example, want the neck of a guitar, violin or bass to be made from this material so that it won’t warp and will ensure the authenticity of the sound. Furniture craftsmen also prefer quartersawn walnut, maple, and cherry wood.