Things to Know About Rustic Quarter Sawn White Oak Wood

Beth Rice 26/01/2023

Wood that’s quarter sawn is cut differently, resulting in unique patterns that are stunning to see on a piece of wood furniture. Rustic woods are going to have more knots, streaks and color variations. Put them together and what have you got? Here are the things to know about rustic quarter sawn white oak wood.

It’s cut differently.

Here’s the secret behind the quarter sawn oak wood patterns. It’s all in the cut. Wood that is “quarter sawn” means the oak log is cut in quarters first, then the quarters are turned and cut again. This process is repeated until the desired board size is achieved. “Regular oak” is plain or flat sawn, and this means the wood is cut parallel through the log. A plain sawn cut creates the prominent grain you see on oak furniture with loops and dips.

Amish McCoy Mission Morris Side Chair
A unique quarter sawn oak pattern on the side of the Trinity Mission Morris Chair.
Amish Chippewa Sleigh Bed
The prominent wood grain of “plain sawn” oak is featured on the Edna Sleigh Bed in solid oak.

It’s unique.

The colors you’ll find in quarter sawn oak wood include various shades of white to medium brown, accentuated with some pink tones that flow throughout heartwood and sapwood. Rustic quarter sawn white oak wood offers unique patterns. The patterns are created from the unique way of cutting the log, resulting in works of art. Quarter sawing creates a grain pattern that’s straighter than oak that’s plain sawn. Unique markings that occur from the cut include medullary rays, also called tiger marks or pith rays. In addition to the cut, the added grain variation in rustic wood may display more imperfections, burls, and knots. Rustic woods allow for these added markings, that’s what it means for wood to be “rustic.” It allows more imperfections, that are often cut around for non-rustic wood. The stain that’s applied will bring out the unique markings even more.

It’s stronger.

Solid wood is strong on its own, there’s no question. Can quarter sawing actually add to the strength? The answer is yes. Quarter sawn wood offers pieces that are smaller in width, contributing to stability. This also helps cut down on the risk of it expanding and contracting in response to humidity, and it’s more resistant to cupping and warping too. It costs more than regular oak wood furniture, but less than quarter sawn white oak wood furniture.

Amish Cranston Coffee Table with rustic quarter sawn white oak.

Why does quarter sawn oak wood furniture cost more than regular oak wood furniture? It’s the same oak wood, isn’t it? There are two main reasons quarter sawn oak wood costs more. One is that quarter sawing the wood is more labor intensive, requiring more effort and time. The other is that quarter sawing means less of the oak log can be used. Flat or plain sawn oak wood allows for more of the oak log to be used, and is more cost efficient than quarter sawing. But even if it costs more, quarter sawn oak furniture is sought after for the unique wood grain patterns that are created. Rustic quarter sawn white oak may cost less than quarter sawn white oak because rustic wood selections allow for more imperfections to be present in the wood to achieve a rustic look.

Amish NP Mission Armoire
The Amish NP Armoire in character or rustic quarter sawn white oak wears unique patterns.

It’s not a type of tree.

Rustic quarter sawn white oak is not a type of tree. It is quarter sawn white oak wood that simply has more knots, color variations and streaks in it. It’s allowed to showcase more markings. It’s oak wood full of natural character.

It’s the most popular wood choice for Mission style furniture.

Mission style furniture is loved for its simplicity and strength. The fact that quarter sawn oak is even more stable than other hardwoods and is not effected as much by shifts in humidity make it a top choice for Mission furniture. It’s also popular for Shaker and traditional style wood furniture.

Amish Payette Mission Nightstand side
Quarter sawn wood patterns on the side of the Payette Mission Nightstand.
Amish Payette Mission Nightstand
Amish Payette Mission Nightstand in quarter sawn oak.

What do you think of rustic quarter sawn white oak wood? Do you prefer it to regular oak? Why or why not?

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