oak vs quarter sawn oak

Quarter Sawn Oak Showcased: 5 Signature Uses in Elegant Woodworking

Quarter sawn oak is stunning in Amish furniture. Its unique grain and ray flecks are distinct attributes of its furniture.

I’m a carpenter who has spent 20 years in the workshop mastering different types of woodworking cuts. In the process, I’ve learned which cuts pair well with woodcuts and how to create elegant woodwork with every lumber

Before starting this article, I gathered all my notes on the different cuts of oak wood. Below are the best projects for using quarter sawn oak

Let’s get started

5 Elegant Ways to Use Quarter Sawn Oak in Woodwork Projects 

Mission Style Furniture

Mission style furniture primarily uses solid cherry wood or quarter sawn oak to create furniture. So, you can use your quarter sawn oak to create shelves, dining sets, and bed frames. 

While mission style furniture is customizable, its pieces are usually heavy and warm-toned. It also aims to accentuate the grain’s natural beauty, so carpenters use a medium or dark stain to finish their woodwork.

Quarter sawn oak resists moisture and rot so it can replace your current kitchen cabinets without damage. Plus, its resistance to wear makes it suitable for working areas like shelves and cupboards.

Shaker Style Furniture

Traditional shaker furniture avoids any unnecessary decorations because it aims to show the wood’s beauty. So, I’ve always used this style to create timeless living room furniture from my white oak. 

You can identify shaker style furniture with its simple lines and tapered legs. And its lightweight chairs have a characteristic ladderback design for easy hanging. 

When making these pieces, I only use a clear finish or a light stain. It helps me to preserve the distinct grain pattern of my oak and show off the ray flecks. 

Shaker Style Furniture
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Queen Anne Style Furniture

Queen Anne style furniture has an informal design characterized by curvaceous and graceful forms. One of the most famous features of this style is the cabriole legs, which are curved ball feet.

This furniture style isn’t as boxy or minimalist as mission style, so it works well as a functional and decorative piece. I’ve taken advantage of this feature to craft a white oak bedroom dresser as a wedding gift. All I can say is that it looked like a million bucks.

With quarter sawn lumber, you can highlight the ray flecks with a clear finish for a refined look. 

Farmhouse Style Furniture

Farmhouse furniture is a decor style that draws inspiration from simple country living. So, it uses light colors to warm woodwork to create a clean and fresh look.

Some unique characteristics of farmhouse decor are x-back chairs, wicker and rattan, and distressed paint finishes. Decorators use quarter sawn white oak to add light–colored furniture like tables, cabinets, and shelves. The result is a relaxed and inviting atmosphere.

Arts and Crafts Style Furniture

Arts and crafts furniture is the warmest among traditional Amish styles. It uses heavy, deep-toned pieces to add depth and character to the room.

For example, this form of furniture tends to have a rectangular shape and exposed joinery. So, it resembles mission style in simplicity and design. And, like mission style, this design uses solid wood to create unadorned pieces.

Carpenters will usually use oak wood to achieve the heaviness of the style, then ebonize it to get the desired warmth.

Benefits of Using Quarter Sawn Oak


Quarter sawn oak is less likely to warp or twist in response to humidity and temperature. It is much more stable than flat sawn oak, making it better for precise measurements.

Ray Flecks

It exhibits medullary rays, which are ribbon-like lines that run perpendicular to the grain. Ray flecks create a shimmering design that adds to the wood appeal and character.


Quarter sawn oak is well-suited to woodwork projects that require robust hardwood. The grain is hard and dense, making it resistant to wear and tear.

Cons of Using Quarter Sawn Oak


Producing quarter sawn oak requires much more labor than live or plain sawn. So, not all lumberyards carry it, which may limit your sourcing options.


When cutting quarter sawn oak, sawmills use the sapwood and discard the heartwood. So, they waste a good amount of oak wood during production, which also spikes the price.

Narrow Planks

Quarter sawn oak produces narrow planks. So. you might need to glue boards together to get wider planks, which increases your wood budget.


The beauty of quarter sawn oak is in its grain, so it requires extra finishing work to highlight the ray flecks.

Flat Sawn vs Quarter Sawn Lumber

quarter sawn oak
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Flat Sawn

Flat sawn lumber has a grain pattern with parallel rings. It is less expensive and more available than quarter sawn wood, so carpenters use it in cabinets, flooring, and moldings. However, flat sawn lumber expands and contracts in humid conditions, causing the wood to warp and cup. 

Quarter Sawn

Quarter sawn lumber has a straight grain with growth rings perpendicular to the board. It is less common and typically more expensive because of its specialized cutting process. It is highly resistant to warping, which makes it perfect for highly precise woodwork.

Oak vs Quarter Sawn Oak

What is quarter sawn oak? Quarter sawn oak is simply oak wood with a unique cutting style. So, all quarter sawn oak comes from oak lumber, but not all oak wood is quarter sawn.  Aside from quarter and plain sawn oak, you’ll also see rift sawn and live sawn cuts.

The Last Brushstroke

Quarter sawn oak excels in minimalistic furniture styles because of its natural beauty. So, woodworkers use light design techniques to create a luxurious feel.

If you’re looking to delve deeper into artisan woodworking, then I’ve got a comprehensive guide. I’ve covered everything from its techniques and challenges and everything in between. Check it out!

Which furniture style showcases quarter sawn oak the best? Tell us in the comments and share this article with someone who appreciates Amish-style furniture.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Identify Quarter Sawn Oak?

The most effective way to identify quarter sawn oak is to check the growth lines on the end grain. They should run vertically from one face of the wood to the other in straight lines. You can also check for ray flecks on the wood’s surface.

Check out how Woodworkers Source – Shows What is QUARTER SAWN Lumber?

Is Quarter Sawn Oak Better?

Quarter sawn oak is better for precisely measured woodwork and anti-warping applications. Plus, it has characteristic ray flecks that add a shimmering pattern to the wood’s appearance. But, it is more expensive and less common, which can significantly affect your sourcing options.

When Was Quarter Sawn Oak Furniture Popular?

Quarter sawn oak furniture was popular in the late 19th century, and its fame continued into the 20th century. It was the wood of choice for the Arts and Crafts Movement, which celebrated handcrafted woodwork and simple, unadorned designs.

How Can You Tell if Wood is Vintage?

When identifying vintage wood, check for machine cuts, consistent colors, and modern nails. These are tell-tale signs of modern woodwork. Instead, antique wood would have inconsistencies in the wood, color, and symmetry. 

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