Valaire French Oak logs are âlive-sawnâ (right). By cutting straight through the log you get a high percentage of spectacular and stable quartersawn sections with medullar flecks and cathedral grain all in the same plank.
Wide live-sawn planks show the various idiosyncrasies of each log, including knots, pith or mineral deposits.
In Europe, live sawn is the oldest and most common method of cutting lumber and one that utilizes every part of the log. Each cut is made straight through the heartwood and is parallel to the next. This technique produces a mixture of plain, quarter and rift sawn cuts, all in one wide plank of wood.
Live sawn boards (sometimes referred to as European or French cut) give hardwood floors a unique appearance because all parts of the wood are captured in the cut.Â Many boards will display cathedral plain sawn grain in the center of the board and rift/quartered characteristics toward the outer edges. Because at least a third of the cut is quarter sawn, live sawn planks are also highly stable. Floors made of live sawn lumber are regarded as both cost effective and environmentally friendly.
Other floors use plain sawn lumber (above). Here the logs are cut into parallel planks through the center of the tree. Looking at the annual growth rings at the end of a plain sawn board reveals that they are arranged at less than 45 degrees or in a frown shape. The surface of the board has the famous cathedral pattern of peaks in the wood grain.
Plain sawn is the least expensive and most common lumber you will find because milling is faster and there is minimal waste involved.
There are some disadvantages as plain sawn wood does have some structural drawbacks. Due to the tangential grain, there is a higher chance of cupping and twisting especially if there is moisture present.