Quartersawing, Labor, and Yield

This discussion of quartersawing with a bandmill makes some interesting points about the extra work involved and the variable quality and value of the resulting product. April 27, 2011

How do you quarter saw using a bandsaw mill?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Check the archives here. Use the word "quartersawing" and you will get 43 discussions including pictures. You can also purchase the book "Sawing, Edging and Trimming Hardwood Lumber."

From contributor S:
In your reading, look for a method that describes cutting the log into thirds. A summary: you remove the top third, slab until you reach the bottom third, then reset the top, rotate 90 degrees and slab that way.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Incidentally, it seems that the word "quartersawing" was used because the log was originally first sawn into quarters and then the four, equal sized pieces were sawn individually.

From contributor P:
In the past, I have physically cut logs into four quarters, and rotated them multiple times to get quarter sawn lumber. It's very labor intensive. I've since turned to contributor S's method. Cut the top third as a slab and remove it. Slab cut the middle section of the log, then you're left with the bottom third. Rotate the bottom third 90 degrees and slab it, then put the top third back on, rotated 90 degrees, and slab it too. This doesn't completely give you all quartersawn lumber; some of it is called rift sawn, but it's mostly quarter sawn and much easier.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Contributor P makes a good point and that is, how much rift and how much q-sawn do you want? The more q-sawn, the more difficult it is to saw and the more time consuming. A similar concern would be how much ray fleck is required by the customer.

One issue that must always be addressed is low grade q-sawn lumber. The market for q-sawn low grade is very poor, yet q-sawing does take more time and so it costs more. Yields will be less that regular sawing, so it costs more. So, q-sawing is probably best done only on upper grade logs where there will be a lot of top grade material that will bring in enough extra money to make the process worthwhile. This allows the lower grade q-sawn to be sold at regular prices, but still a profit can be made overall.

From contributor A:
Just below this message is a photo of a Wood-Mizer cutting a log that says "Attention Sawmill Operators." That is me quartersawing a log. Unless the log is over 28 inches, I can saw them just as fast as grade sawing minus the tie. Do not waste time trying to q-saw a board that is not at least 6 inches wide.

I have turned low grade qsawn lumber into flooring and it is pretty and sells well. Post oak qsawn will be the next floor I do in my house. It has a tiger stripe pattern and it is so pretty. Do not be afraid to make rift sawn lumber. People who build furniture love the stuff for legs.

From contributor T:
Quarternsawing with just a bandmill, it is hard to get a decent yield. You're best off getting a large chainsaw with a 3' + bar and quartering the log by hand, then sawmilling each quarter individually.