June 15, 2021

Professional Tool Reviews for Pros

What is Plain-sawn or Rip-sawn Wood or Lumber?

what plainsawn vs rip-sawn lumber

Plain-sawn or rip-sawn wood uses a particular method of milling trees that yields highly usable, strong boards. It delivers the least amount of waste of any milling method. Unlike quarter sawn wood, particularly popular for oak and maple, plain-sawn wood presents less exposed grain on the face of the board. Most lumber uses this simpler rip-sawing (or plain-sawn) process. As the most efficient sawmilling method, it utilizes almost every square inch of a tree to make usable boards.

Also, since this type of cut generates the most amount of wood, it also yields lower-priced boards. Sawmills use this as the preferred method for nearly all general construction and woodworking lumber.

What is Plain-sawn or Rip-sawn Lumber?
Plain-sawn vs Quartersawn vs Riftsawn Lumber?

Plain-sawn (Rip-sawn) Lumber Benefits

In a word (or two): looks and efficiency/price. Because the grain is not as important in plain-sawn lumber, using the rip-sawn method is a sure way to get the most boards out of a tree. It generates inexpensive lumber stock perfect for construction and basic furniture. Since the end grain of the wood ends up horizontal to the board’s face, one thing to think about is how a board might twist after installation and exposure to the elements. “Cupping” happens when a board bends along the line of the grain. You will see this a lot on decking boards. It is this phenomenon that deems it best to lay boards so that they cup “into” the joists and not up, trapping additional moisture.

CAMO Marksman Pro Hidden Deck Fastener System applicaton - 2

If you’ve ever seen oak or maple cut normally, you’ll immediately see that quartersawn lends itself to a nicer presentation – unless you like the horizontal tiger striping found in a more traditional plain-sawn cut.

How Do You Get Plain-sawn Wood from a Tree?

In a word: easily. The plain-sawn method feeds the tree through a saw, “planing” off each board in sheets for lumber material. It is not unusual to get some combination of 4×4, 2×6, 2×4, and 2×2 material from a single tree.

Expansion and Contraction

It’s important to understand how plain-sawn or rip-sawn wood will expand and contract with moisture and humidity. All wood will have some movement, but the most traditional style of millwork leaves you the most exposed to this phenomenon. Unlike the more hardy quartersawn and rift-sawn lumber, rip-sawn milled wood can more easily twist or “cup”. That means it’s far easier to find these boards straying, rather than maintaining a perfect shape over time. This is especially true after exposure to the elements.

Related articles

How to Cut Copper Pipe | 4 Time-tested Methods

We’ve been asked more than once how to cut copper pipe. From the easiest way to the way you want to do it if you have lots of copper piping to cut, methods vary. In the end, plumbers need to factor in budget, convenience, and the ergonomics of the job. How to Cut Copper Pipe […]

Differences Between CPVC, Copper, and PEX Tubing

Plumbers have favorites and go-to’s when installing new plumbing or performing repairs. Piping options include PVC, CPVC, copper, and PEX tubing. Knowing a little about each helps you understand the difference between CPVC and PEX tubing or copper. On top of that, the debate between CPVC vs copper vs PEX rages on for reasons from price to ease of […]

Monkey Rung Ladder Accessories for Painting

Monkey Rung Ladder Tools and Roller Ready Cleaners are Made By Contractors, For Contractors If you spend any time at the top of a ladder, you’d do yourself a favor by looking into a safe and helpful solution for working with paint and tools at height. Monkey Rung Ladder Accessories are designed by tradesmen who […]

Do Stud Finders Work? We Test on Drywall and Concrete Block

Aside from the joke about stud finders always pointing back at me, the question remains: Do stud finders work? Actually, yes they do…sort of. Here’s the thing—even the best stud finders require knowing how they operate. The key involves getting one that does what you specifically need it to do. Surveying Reputable Stud Finder Brands You […]

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x