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Have you ever looked at a tree and wondered how timber manufacturers turn that conical shape into long, even boards? If you have, you are not alone. The answer all comes down to sawing, and the different methods of cutting the timber can drastically affect the characteristics of the resulting boards. To dig deeper into timber production, we have taken a look at the different sawing techniques to find the right choice for your project.

Plain Sawn (or Flat Sawn) Timber

Plain sawing (or flat sawing) is the method you will come across most frequently and it is a pretty straightforward way of turning a log into wooden planks. In this technique, the tree is sliced through its diameter, working parallel along the length of the log. It is actually the most sustainable choice thanks to the minimal waste (timber scraps) left over once the log is sawn, so it earns green bonus points from the EcoChoice team!

Plain sawn timber is a cost-effective, efficient sawing technique which creates that well-known cathedral grain throughout the surface. It is also readily available, being the standard choice for most timber products, and a go-to for many construction projects.

Quarter Sawn Timber

The quarter sawn technique is a little more complex than plain sawn. To begin with the log is cut into quarters, and then each quarter is cut into boards, moving in a perpendicular motion to the growth rings. The result is a very straight, vertical grain which looks almost like stripes running through the timber.

As a more complex sawing technique, quarter-sawn timber can come with a bigger price tag when compared to plain sawn. But the timber does tend to be more dimensionally stable (less prone to swelling and warping), able to hold stain or paint better and has a smoother surface finish. You might frequently see quarter sawn timber used for flooring, furniture and applications which rely on structural integrity, such as building foundations.

Alternatives and Specialised Sawing Techniques

There are a few alternative sawing techniques which are seen in specialised applications. These include:

  • Rift sawn timber – involves cutting the log at a slight angle to the radial plane, producing boards with a straight grain pattern similar to quarter-sawn timber but with less waste.
  • Live sawn timber –  involves cutting the log straight through without any rotation, yielding a mix of plain, quarter and rift sawn boards in a single pass.
  • Resawing – refers to cutting boards into thinner slices along their width, often used to create veneers or thinner boards for specialised applications such as box making or instrument building.

Find Sawn Timbers at EcoChoice

Does one of these techniques sound like a fit for your project? If so, we can help. At EcoChoice, we can supply bespoke FSC or PEFC-certified timber boards for sleepers, cladding, decking and more to construction sites around the UK following your specific sawing requirements, measurements, finishes and more.

To start an order, let us know for what you are looking.



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