Have you ever noticed how different one floor can be from another? Not just in color or grade, but in how the grain looks as it travels through the wood? That’s because there isn’t a singular method to cutting wood. You may see wood that was flat cut in one home, whereas in another home you may see wood that was rift cut, and yet in another you may see wood that was quartered. All of these have a different look that they will give in the finished product. So what is the difference between these cuts of wood and what can they do for you?
Flat cut wood is the most common. You may also hear this type of cut referred to as “plain sawn.” Simply put, the log is cut into planks all along its length. It is how most people assume logs are cut – lengthwise from bottom to top. It’s a popular cut style because it is also the most economical. The most planks can be obtained through the flat cut. The grain of the wood shows up as semi-circles throughout.
Quarter cut begins with the log being cut into quarters. Then each piece is sawn perpendicular to the direction of the growth rings. This means that the grain is showcased in a much different way than in flat cut wood. Because of the cutting style, you may also see beautiful flared looks within the wood, which are referred to as “rays” or “flecks” due to their nature of being shiny or reflective.
Rift cut wood starts out similar to quarter cut in that it begins with the log being quartered. Then each log quarter is cut almost in the same way as the quarter cut, but the angle is changed just enough to help accentuate the vertical grain. However, less wood can be gained through the use of this cut.
Each cut type provides different benefits. Both rift and quarter cut have reduced occurrences of twisting or warping, can better resist wear, are ideal for high traffic areas, and can mean a superior finishing surface.
Depending upon your need, you may find that one type of wood cut stands out over the others. If you want a simple wood floor, then flat cut may be for you. However, if you have a lot of people constantly coming and going in an area, then a quarter or rift cut may better suit your home. Talk to professionals about what type of wood cut is best for you.