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Thread: Quarter Sawn White Oak

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2003

    Quarter Sawn White Oak

    I have an opportunuty to purchase some qtr sawn white oak, right off the blade at a great price.

    More than anything I'm exciting about getting a chance to watch it being milled.

    I plan to have a little cut @ 12/4, the rest at 6/4.


    1) How much variance is there in the fleck from log to log? I'm assuming that as long as the log is cut properly I should get some decent figure (assumptions can be dangerous).

    I'm new to this, can anyone offer me any advice?

    When I get it home I'll sticker it in the shed for however long.


  2. #2

    related questions...

    With the understanding that the type of wood you need (or can best put to use) depends on what you want to do with it, I have a couple related questions...

    A neighbor is having some trees removed from her yard and I'm having someone with a wood-mizer come to mill it for me. It's mostly red and white oak, approximately 24in diameter. I was planning to have him flatsaw the lot of it in 10 foot lengths. From that I figured I could simply rip off the edges and effectively create riftsawn/quartersawn stock, using the middle remnants for lesser projects and jigs. My fear is that if I have him quartersaw these logs, I won't get very much stock out of these (relatively small) trees. Am I going about this the right way, or should I have him quarter saw the lot of it from the start?

    Also, since I have no specific intentions for this wood just yet, what thickness should I get him to slice? Again, owing to the relative smallness of the trees, I won't get a lot of 12/4 stock, but should I get 6/4 vs. 4/4? I'll be jointing and planing the wood myself when it's finished air drying, so I'm wondering what thickness will give me the most versatility for when I'm designing projects next year (or the next year, or the next - depending on how thick the cuts are).

    I don't want to kick myself next year, wishing I had milled the wood a different way. Any advice from those with more experience would be much appreciated.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    South Windsor, CT

    Sawing Oak

    I've "grain-sawed" (vs "grade-sawed") 1500+ board ft of oak with a Woodmizer dude. I was the board catcher/stacker. The wood is for our interior retrim project and flooring. The red oak was cut to yield as much rift sawn stock as possible, the oak was cut to yield quartered.

    If you want boards for "normal" flat work, 6/4 stock is too thick. You'll waste a lot of wood in the jointing/planing process. If you want 3/4" finish boards, starting with 1 1/8" is plenty thick. Anything more than that becomes sawdust/chips.

    As far as true quartersawing a whole log vs. flatsawing it and cutting the pith (middle of the log) out of the boards that show ray fleck - either option is valid. Flatsawing a log gives you wider rift/flatsawn boards for sure. The pith is generally only good for firewood or stickers. Depending on how you're paying the sawyer, you don't want to pay premium rates for that junk wood in the middle of the log. We generally used it for stickers.

    Some general comments about sawing. If you want to end up with flat boards instead of noodles, there is prep work you must do before the blade touches the first log.

    1. Build a stacking/stickering area.
    2. Decide what you're using for stickers and have them available.
    3. Have AnchorSeal or a similar product and sela the log ends.

    Stacking/Stickering Area

    You've got to stack the wood some place to air dry. That place needs to be flat and level. If it's not, your boards will dry withe whatever twist and cup the area has. Wood can't be stacked right on the ground. You need air space between the ground a bottom layer of wood. 12" is a minimum. The ground in my area is sloped, so the whole thing is on concrete blocks. I dug down to firm soil, put some stone dust as a levelling agent (so I could gete the blocks level with each other). 4x4's run across the blocks. The blocks are spaced every 16". I've got to unload the whole pile and put a layer of plastic between the blocks and the 4x4's ecause moisture from the ground (which is too close) is bleeding up and has cracked the bottom layer of boards.


    These are the little sticks of wood you use to stack the wood and provide airflow through the pile. They need to be consistent thickness or your boards will noodle. Stack the pile carefully. The stickers need to line up in a nice straight line vertically. We used stickers cut from the logs as we were cutting. That only worked because we were sawing in the fall and winter, the humidity was low and therefore less chance of sticker stain. Depending on where you are, you need to use dry stickers or you run the risk of getting mold stains on your lumber.

    Sealing the logs

    You need to seal the end of each board with something to prevent rapid moisture loss out the ends of the board. If y ou don't, the wends will crack and you can easily lose a foot off of each end of the board that way. The best product is Anchorseal. It's far easier to coat the ends of a log before you saw it than to go back afterwards and seal each board individually. If you're the really anal type about wanting to store the wood for a long time, coat the log ends and go bakc when you have a chance and touch up the board ends. Beleive me - the log end method is the way to go. I've done it both ways because it was too cold to seal the logs one time (we were sawing in 15* weather with a wind and the Anchorseal was frozen) and I had to do the boards ont he pile as soon as we had a nice (above freezing) day.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Rob's instructions for propertly stacking are excellent. But I'll add that in your shed is not the best place to dry your lumber. You need air flow; therefore, your stack really should be outdoors where the wind can blow through the pile to wick off the moisture over time. The stack should be covered, but only on the top. Many folks use a piece or two of metal roofing properly weighed down and sloped such that rain wilil run off. (You don't want to create a mosquito factory!) The stack should also be raised up off the ground...I use some PT 4x4 material leveled with bricks for that and put the first row of stickers on those before the first boards go on the stack.

    Theoretically, the drying pile should be "re-stacked" occasionally, but many folks don't bother. Once the moisture content drops to the 12% range as measured by a meter you can bring the material inside to "finish" it in the shop lumber rack.

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    South Windsor, CT

    More ...


    Nice catch on the shed - I missed that.

    One other major point about oak - you don't want it to dry too quickly. If it does, you get shake (the wood separates by the annular growth rings) and surface checking. You need to have a tarp over the pile so you can slow down the drying during its first month or so. Oak is 70%+ water when green. You only want to lose 2-3% per day in the beginning. Air drying is not that controlled a process and a little slower is better than too fast.

    Weight on top of the pile, as Jim mentioned, is important. Cinder blocks are cheap and heavy.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Westphalia, Michigan
    Randy, In q' sawn wood the annular growth rings run 90 degrees to the face of the board. There is a few different ways to q'saw the wood. One way is to quarter the log and then cut the pith off. The log is then flipped, and the boards are cut @ 90 deg. to the pith cut. It's more labor intensive for the saw mill guy, but you get some really nice flecks. I'm going to pick up 700-800 bf Q-sawn white oak soon from the kiln, can hardly wait to get the eye-balls on it. Definatly use Anchor seal, paint won't work that well IMHO. good luck.

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