Carlisle’s Quarter Sawn White Oak:It’s A Grain Thing.
White Oak is a very unique wood because its grain lends itself to a variety of different looks, depending on how it is sawn.
Normally, a log is plain sawn, i.e. it is first cut into a rough square by taking off four sections of the outer bark and sapwood, and then sawn with a series of parallel cuts — as if a loaf of bread were cut lengthwise to yield long slices. Grain-wise, this typically gives a floor a little bit of everything: straight lines as well as a variety of swirls and “cathedral patterns” — several swirls inside one another. This is the way most floors are cut.
Quarter sawn cuts generally only apply to Oak, and a few other hardwoods. They are made by first cutting the log into four pie-shaped wedges and then making a series of cuts which are more or less perpendicular to the tree rings, which produces straighter grain. Without getting too technical, let’s just say that quarter sawn White Oak produces more “rays” or “flecks,” which is the hallmark look of Mission furniture/cabinetry. In addition to being visually interesting, this grain pattern produces extremely stable boards.
Various stains can then be used to further enhance the grain or make it more subtle.
This Long Island, New York residence features a beautiful mixture of quarter sawn, rift sawn and plain sawn White Oak. Note the contrast between the various grain patterns.