How lumber is cut for hardwood flooring

Hardwood Flooring is the final product we put in our houses, however before there was a floor, there was a tree. The tree was cut down and sent to the mill, where it was cut in to boards by machines in any of three ways.Flatsawn, Quartersawn, or Rift Sawn.


Plain Sawn

plain Hardwood flooring
Plain Sawn Lumber or Flat sawn, as it is called, is the most widely used and common method of sawing a log. Plain Sawn Lumber is obtained by first making a horizontal or vertical cut tangent to the circumference of the log and every cut after that is parallel to the very first cut. This method produces the very widest possible boards, with the least amount of waste. It is the most economical way to mill the lumber from trees in comparison to the other sawing techniques utilized in the industry. Plain Sawn lumber produces a very distinct cathedral pattern on the face grain of the boards.

Quarter Sawn

Quarter Sawnquarter sawn hardwood flooringLumber is produced instead by first quartering the log followed by sawing it perpendicular to the annual growth rings. This method produces a nice straight grain on the face of the board. In many wood species this particular technique makes the medullary rays visible on the face of the board in the form of “flake”. In mahogany it produces what is commonly called ribbon stripe. Quarter Sawn lumber creates more log waste and the end result is narrower boards in comparison to the Flat Sawn method.

Rift Sawn


The technique Rift Quarter hardwood flooringof Rift Sawing is very similar to that of Quarter Sawing producing similar limitations and advantages. During Rift Sawing, the quartered log portion is turned slightly off perpendicular before cutting not to expose the medullary ray in an effort to minimize the amount of “flake” on the face of the board. Rift sawing produces virtually straight grain appearance on the face of the board with little to no visible “flake”. Log waste is increased and the log yields narrower boards than in any of the other methods.

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