Sawn Lumber for Wood Flooring


Sawing Methods – Wood Floors

If you think all wood is milled alike, think again. The various methods a mill uses to produce lumber for flooring and other applications is vital to maximizing the value of the harvest. Part of how a particular piece of lumber looks, feels and stands up to time depends on the sawing technique.

Most harvest wood is milled one of three ways: Plain sawn, Quartersawn and Rift Sawn.

Plain Sawing

Also called rip sawing, this is the most common way to mill wood. It involves cutting the log straight down the middle and splitting it into two even pieces.

  • Plain sawing is the fastest milling method.
  • It results in the least waste of any sawing method.
  • Plain sawing is the only method that produces the characteristic “cathedral” grain pattern.


Image of wood flooring in bedroom

Quarter Sawing

In quarter sawing, millwrights cut the log into four quarters and then plain-saw each quarter with the growth rings placed at an angle. This creates lumber that is evenly grained and very stable.

  • This method produces a smooth surface texture.
  • Quarter-sawn lumber is more moisture-resistant than plain-sawn wood.
  • Red oak and white oak look especially beautiful when quarter-sawn.
  • Quarter-sawn wood is often used to make musical instruments.


Cochrans Cognac White Oak Floors

Rift Sawing

Rift-sawn wood is rare because it involves a technique that takes time, patience and care. Rift sawing involves taking the quarter-sawn wood and then sawing out the wood from the center of each quarter. Rift-sawn wood is favored by custom furniture makers because it has a perfectly even grain when seen from every angle.

Benefits of Rift Sawn Lumber

  1. Durability: Rift-sawn lumber is strong through and through, with no weak parts.
  2. Grain Pattern: Flooring planks made from this lumber show beautifully even grain patterns.
  3. Stability: Flooring made from rift-sawn lumber is minimally affected by humidity changes, so it’s less likely to cup or shift with changing moisture levels.

Cons to Rift Sawn Lumber

  1. Availability: Most average mills don’t produce true rift-sawn lumber. Cochrans is one of the few that still use this painstaking technique.
  2. Cost: Because it is so labor-intensive, rift-sawn wood costs more than quarter-sawn or plain-sawn lumber.
  3. Waste: Rift-sawn wood produces the most wood waste of the three methods, which is another reason that it’s more expensive.


Image of family room with Rift and Quartered Flooring Cochrans



Take Your Pick

At Cochran’s, every piece of wood we produce is milled and finished to perfection, whatever method we’re using.

Consider the type of wood you’re using for your flooring, as different sawing methods bring out different features of each wood. At Cochran’s, we can ensure that the wood, finish and sawing you select all come together to create a floor of spectacular beauty.

  • Quarter-sawing reveals distinctive patterns called “flakes” or “flecks” in red oak, white oak and other woods.
  • Plain-sawn wood produces wood with clear growth circles and other variations that give a rustic, character-rich appeal.
  • Rift-sawn wood creates wood that is uniform in color and pattern.

Can’t Decide?

We have many beautiful options for wood flooring and we understand that all the choices can be overwhelming. To help you decide, visit our showroom online or in person. We’ll take the time to answer all your questions and show you some of the projects that showcase our wood at its finest.

Call Cochran’s today and discover how our prized, sustainably grown and harvested, all-American woods can create a masterpiece in your home.


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Cochran’s Lumber is proud to be the leading provider of spectacular floors for homes, offices, and retail spaces across America! Our newly redesigned showroom was thoughtfully designed to make the selection of flooring and finishes exciting and simple. We feature a variety of new and reclaimed flooring products and many new and unique finishes.

We are proud to offer an inviting space where customers can come and get a clear visual of the many types of hardwood flooring options that we offer, and feel comfortable at the same time.

Visit our showroom today in historic Berryville, VA (only 50 miles west of Washington D.C) or give us a call at 1(877) 297-8331.