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~ Timber Conversion ~


As soon as possible after felling the tree should be converted into usable timber.

There are two main methods of converting timber:

  • Through and through (or Plain) and
  • Quarter also referred to as rift sawn.

Quarter sawn is far more expensive because of the need to double (or more) handle the log and there is more wastage. It is however more decorative (principle cut for Arts & Crafts furniture) and less prone to cup or distort and will expand and contract less than boards sawn by other methods. Note also there are two ways of sawing the quarter.

Plain produces mostly tangentially sawn timber and some quarter sawn material close to the center of the log creating the familiar “flame-shaped” or “cathedral” pattern. (see diagram)   Tangential timber is prone to cupping but it is stronger when placed correctly.  Because of this it is used extensively in the construction industry and especially for beams. 

Boxed heart is the technique used when converting old timbers especially oak that has gone rotten in the middle.

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Tangential boards are the stronger boards when placed correctly and are principly used for beams and joists. These type of boards suffer from 'cupping' if not carefully seasoned, converted and used properly.

Radial boards are cut on 'the quarter' and produce a typical pattern of the medullary rays especially in quartered oak.  Such timber is expensive due to the multiple cuts required to convert this board. Quality floor boards are also prepared from this rift sawn timber because it wears well and shrinks less.


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Reproduced with kind permission by Geoff Malthouse from his website

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