Hardwood Lumber Sawing Options and grading rules

Sawing Options

Plain Sawn


Plain (Flat) sawn hardwood lumber is produced by making the first cut down the center of the log. The half log is mounted with the heart side flat against the flitch table of the slicer. The slicing is done parallel to a line through the center of the log. Plain sawn lumber is the most common and widely used method of sawing it offers a distinct cathedral effect to the grain on the face of the boards.

Benefits of Plain Sawing :

  • Faster to produce.
  • More affordable.
  • Displays varied grain patterns & the unique “cathedral” appearance.
  • Readily available.

Rift Sawn


This linear grain pattern is achieved by milling perpendicular to log’s growth rings. The log is milled on an angle between 45° to 75°. Rift sawn lumber is dimensionally superior to both plain sawn and quarter sawn lumber. However, it also produces the most waste, which will cost more per board foot than either quarter sawn and plain sawn lumber.

Benefits of Rift Sawing :

  • Ideal for custom furniture makers to use for table, chair, and other straight pieces.
  • The most dimensionally stable cut of lumber available.
  • Unique, linear appearance on both sides of the lumber planks.



To mill quarter sawn wood, each log is sawed at a radial angle into four quarters. Then each quarter is plain sawn. This produces a straight, linear grain pattern. This method of quarter sawing does leave some waste, but much less than rift sawn lumber.

Benefits of Quarter Sawing :

  • Reduces shrinking and swelling in hardwood lumber width.
  • Reduces twisting, warping and cupping.
  • Is less prone to surface checking.
  • More resistant to moisture penetration
  • Has a smooth surface as raised grain is not pronounced.
  • Ribbon aka “fleck” patterns

Live Sawn


Live sawn lumber is lumber sawn straight through the log from top to bottom.  It is characterized by having rift or quartersawn board edges that merge into a flat sawn center.  It is often sold unedged. Live sawn is also called “French Cut” where the boards have a return to cathedral grain that runs down the center two-thirds of the board.

Grading Options

Basic Yield for FAS

FAS (Firsts and Seconds) – The FAS grade will provide the user with long, wide, clear cuttings. Best suited for high quality furniture, interior trim, millwork, and solid wood mouldings. The FAS grade includes a range of boards which yield from 83.1/3% (10/12ths) to 100% clear wood in cuttings at least 3″ wide by 7′ long or 4″ wide by 5′ long.

FAS1F or Selects

In FAS1F (“FASoneFace”) and Selects, the grade is established using both faces of the board. The best face must meet the requirements for FAS, and the reverse side must essentially grade No. 1. FAS1F and Selects are virtually the same grade, except for minimum width and length. The minimum board size for Selects is 4″ x 6′; and for FAS1F it is 6″ x 8′

Basic Yield for No. 1 Grade

Will provide the user with clear cuttings of medium length and width. Best suited for furniture, cabinets, and a multitude of solid wood manufactured products. The No. 1 grade includes a range of boards which will yield from 66 2/3% (8/12ths) to 83 1/3% (10/12ths) clear wood in cuttings at least 3″ wide by 3′ long or 4″ by 2′.

Basic Yield for No. 2A Grade

Will provide the user with short, narrow clear cuttings economically priced, for use in unexposed furniture frames, picture frames, cabinet rails and frames, parquet or strip flooring, and many other smaller solid wood components. The No. 2A grade includes a range of boards which will yield from 50% (6/12ths) to 66 2/3% (8/12ths) clear wood in cuttings at least 3″ wide by 2′ long.

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