Flatsawn vs Quartersawn...?

Discussion in 'Basses [BG]' started by Chef, Oct 12, 2005.

  1. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    I just got a Lakland Skyline Hollowbody (niiiice), and one of the differences listed b/t the two is flatsawn vs quartersawn maple for neck material...
    Whats the diff b/t flatsawn and quartersawn?
    Advantage of one over the other?

  2. seansbrew

    seansbrew Supporting Member

    Oct 23, 2000
    Mesa AZ.
    By definition, Quartered Sawn lumber produces lumber where by the growth rings are positioned at a 60° to 90° angle.

    98% of the lumber produced in the world in plain sawn, which may make quartered sawn lumber mills seem small; However there are more than 4000 sawmills in the United States alone. Of the 2% that is produced, Taylor Lumber is the largest by far.

    The most obvious characteristic of quarter sawn lumber is the type of grain pattern produced. By quarter sawing, the saw actually splits the medullary ray, causing the ray to appear shiny or reflective. (The German term for this is "Spiegel Shnitt" or "Mirror Cut".) The rift board does not have this shiny characteristic. It does produce vertical grain - usually used in a more contemporary setting specified by architects.

    Appearance is not the only reason why quartered sawn is sought after. It also:

    Does not shrink or swell in width (ideal for flooring in extreme conditions in High Traffic, Pubs, and Other Public Places)
    Reduces twisting, warping and cup.
    Wears less in flooring application.
    Does not surface check or split.
    Produces a better paint surface.
    As described, quarter sawing is more of an art than plain sawing. Quarter sawing takes larger logs to saw this product, more production time in sawing each "quarter", all of which equates to a premium price.

    The reason why 98% of mills do not sell quartered sawn is because of the technical skills and patience needed.

    Plain Sawn Technique

    (Top Half)

    Quarter sawing produces both Rift and Quartered

    (Bottom Half)

    Attached Files:

  3. Johnny Fila

    Johnny Fila Formerly "The Crusader"

    Nov 21, 2004
    Elmont, NY (near NYC)
    main difference is the way it's cut. theoretically, quartersawn will result in a stronger neck. In actuallity/useability for what we do, there is no actual advantage either way and flatsawn tends to have a nicer look to it. when you see a swamp ash body with those nice long grain lines, think flatsawn. thats a good example. nothing wrong with quartersawn, more of an overkill aspect and you will pay more for it as there is more waste when the lumber is milled.
    pretty sure I got that right.
  4. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Good thread on this over in the luthier section;)
    I searched in the wrong place first... :rolleyes:
  5. Roger Sadowsky actually had something to say about this in the FAQ on his website:

  6. Chef

    Chef Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    May 23, 2004
    Columbia MO
    Staff Reviewer; Bass Gear Magazine
    Thanks Gibbon81!
  7. pilotjones

    pilotjones Supporting Member

    Nov 8, 2001
    Excellent post. The only correction I'd make is that it does indeed shrink or swell in width. Just less so. Wood exhibits dimensional changes in all directions, radial (the face when quartersawn or the thickness when flatsawn), tangential (the thickness when quartersawn or the width when flatsawn)
    (this has the greatest changes), and axial (the length of most boards) (this has the least dimensional reactance).

    For example, using figures from the USDA, for hard maple drying from green to 6% moisture content, shirinkage tangential = 7.6%; radial = 3.9%, and axial calulates (using the volumetric figure) to 1.2%.