Quarter Sawn Oak
Sourcing the ideal timber for projects is the frustration of many a furniture maker. Here we see a true quarter sawn oak plank, prized for the rich decorative medullary ray or 'fleck' as shown in the picture. This cut of timber is not only extremely pleasant to the eye it is also the most stable cut for wide planks of oak. When properly dried it will hardly move at all, which means that it is perfect for panel work and fine furniture. Some time ago, we took the big step of installing our own mill to produce the quality of timber we want to use on our projects, including quarter sawn oak.
The large log is firstly split down the middle to a half moon. Using the bandmill we then split the half moon by cutting out the middle boards, leaving four quarters. These quarter segments are held with the grain 90 degrees to the sawblade, ready for cutting our quartered boards. When the angle of the grain is greater than 45 degrees the medullary ray should be present and are at its best at 90 degrees.
The quarter sawn oak planks are then stacked ready to air dry. Air drying can take a year an inch of thickness. This process takes the moisture content from being fresh sawn down to below 25%. The lower the moisture content the faster it will kiln dry and the less energy will be required. The timber will stay in the kiln for around 4 to 6 weeks where the moisture should drop evenly to our desired moisture content of between 6% - 8% for furniture making; commercial oak for joinery use is acceptable at 10% to 12%.