Sawmills have several different ways of cutting timber into boards. Each sawing method produces a different look and durability, and comes at a different price.

The three traditional types of milled wood moulding are plainsawn, quartersawn and riftsawn lumber.

 

Plainsawn Lumber


In plainsawing, a sawmill cuts timber into long strips along its length, pulling off boards parallel to one another, like playing cards being separated from a deck.

Plainsawing creates the least waste of any sawing method, and is the least expensive, and most common method of sawing wood moulding.

Because each board comes from a distinct "slice" of the tree, each piece of plainsawn lumber has a distinct look and substance. As a result, moulding made with plainsawn lumber will have more variations than trim made from lumber cut by other methods.  In extremes of humidity and temperature, these variations make plainsawn lumber more susceptible to expansion and contraction than quartersawn or riftsawn lumber.

 

Quartersawn Lumber


A "Quartersawn" log is first cut into four "quarters". Each quarter is then cut into boards through a series of cuts which are parallel to each other, but perpendicular to the tree's rings. The result is a series of boards, each containing a similar slice of the tree radius. Because quartersawing produces less board feet than
plainsawing, quatersawn lumber is more expensive. However, quartersawn boards are more consistent than plainsawn boards. This makes them more resistant to shrinkage and expansion in humidity and temperature, and valuable to woodworkers. You can visually recognize quartersawn wood by its wavy grain patterns.

 

Riftsawn Lumber


Each riftsawn board is cut from the center of the log, outwards. Riftsawing is similar to
quartersawing, except that each riftsawn cut is made at a slightly different angle. While this method of sawing creates many wedge-shaped scraps, it also results in boards with similar grain patterns; such boards have great uniformity and stability, even in extremes of temperature and humidity.

Riftsawing results in the least board-feet per log, making it the most expensive milling method.

 

Hardwood Grading


The appearance of the wood determines its "grade." All grades are equally strong and serviceable, but each affords you a different look.

When it comes to hardwood flooring, the term "grading" is sure to come up. Grading refers to the system used by manufacturers to assess the appearance of hardwood floors. NOFMA: The Wood Flooring Manufacturers Association grades emphasize color, grain pattern and other markings that occur in wood. Color is determined by what part of the tree the wood comes from, and the grain pattern is determined by species and how the wood is cut. Heartwood, the oldest, densest, innermost section of the log, is often darker and richer in color than sapwood, which lies closest to the bark. The color difference may be so pronounced that heartwood and sapwood from the same species are marketed under separate names.

Select & Better Grade
A moulding product of mostly heartwood with a minimum number of character marks and discoloration, providing a uniform appearance while allowing for all heartwood natural color variations. Color variations are minor (natural variations in the sapwood). Wood is selected for color uniformity; color is paler and more uniform than all other grades.

Select Grade
A moulding product of mostly heartwood with a minimum number of character marks and discoloration, providing a uniform appearance while allowing for all heartwood natural color variations. A combination of 60% - 70% Select and Better and 30% - 40% #1 Common. Color variations are more pronounced, but there is a larger proportion of paler boards. May contain small sound knots.

#1 Common Grade
A moulding product with coloration variations produced by differences of natural heartwood and sapwood. Attractive mix of natural heartwood and sapwood colors (all color variations are acceptable). Grain is highly visible and the color is generally darker. May contain small sound knots.

#2 Common Grade
Is chosen for the natural features and characteristics it brings to a room (allowing wastage enables you to pick the characteristics you want in moulding). Most people allow 10% - 15% wastage. A perfect grade for bedrooms and family rooms for most people.

Rustic Grade
May contain sound natural variations of the forest product and manufacturing imperfections. The purpose of this grade is to furnish a floor suitable for homes, general utility use, or where character marks and contrasting appearance is desired.

Atlantic Grade
A floor with varying wood characteristics and colors to include distinct color variations, numerous streaks, stained sapwood, sound knots, checks, and sapwood.

 

 

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