Plain Sawn

Plain Sawn Hardwood Flooring

Plainsawn, or flatsawn hardwood is the most common and inexpensive way lumber is sawn. When a piece of lumber is plainsawn, the cut is made tangentially to the direction the tree’s growth rings. The growth rings meet the cut at an angle of usually no more than 30 degrees, though sometimes the angle is 45 degrees but no more. This makes for an attractive loop, arrow or cathedral pattern on the face of the board and brings out beautiful figures in the wood. 


Our sawyers at Timberline Hardwoods find many benefits to plain sawn hardwood besides its aesthetic qualities. Flatsawn timber is less affected by knots. Quartersawn boards might have spike knots that weaken them. Spike knots are left by branches that are cut either on the bias or lengthwise. They appear as spikes in the board and can make the lumber unsuitable for use. The normal round or oval knots in plainsawn boards do not weaken the lumber.

Shakes and pitch pockets don’t extend through as many boards in flatsawn lumber. Shakes are longitudinal splits along the grain of the board. They’re usually found around the growth ring. They can be on one surface of the board or penetrate to the opposite side. Shakes are caused by bacteria that infect the trees through the root and cause the fibers of wood that’s produced in the later part of the tree’s growing season to separate. A pitch pocket is an opening between the tree’s growth rings. It’s full of pitch, or resin and can be very small or very large.

Plainsawn wood is less liable to collapse as it dries and produces less waste than other types of cuts. Sawyers spend less time and less effort cutting the boards, which contributes to their low price. The boards are also wider. Many people enjoy the patterns of the grain in flatsawn wood, especially in woods like walnut, whose grain can be several beautiful colors.


One drawback to flatsawn lumber is that it is less stable than quartersawn lumber. Because the grain goes in different directions, the wood may not dry evenly. This may cause it to expand in both width and thickness and even to warp in various ways, including twisting, bowing and cupping. Cupping is the most common problem when plainsawn lumber warps. The grade of lumber depends largely on the severity of the kinds of warping.

Types of Wood 

Most types of wood can be plainsawn for our hardwood flooring. The woods we offer at Timberline Hardwoods include:

White Oak

Species of oak used for flooring are prized for their attractiveness and durability. White oak is pale yellowish-brown and has a pinkish tint. The texture is medium to coarse, and the grain is straight. The wood takes stains well and dries slowly. 

Red Oak 

The heartwood of this oak is an attractive beige or pink color with a red tinge. It has a straight grain and coarse texture. The Southern type of red oak grows faster than northern red oak and is harder, heavier and has a coarser texture. 


Maple is creamy white with a beautiful luster. Over time it weathers to light tan. It has a straight, curly or wavy grain and a fine texture. Maple is a strong wood, though not as strong as oak. Different types of maple can be used as hardwood flooring.


The heartwood and sapwood of hickory are different. The heartwood is reddish, while the sapwood is pale. The wood usually has a straight grain, though the grain may be wavy or irregular. Its density and strength depend on the tree’s rate of growth. Hickory dries quickly, without much warping, though it has a tendency to shrink. It stains and polishes well.


There are several types of walnut, including Black American walnut. It has a straight grain but some specimens have a wave that’s curly or wavy and a coarse texture.

Walnut is tough and hard but not extremely dense. It is very durable, dries slowly, but does not expand much in response to the humidity and the temperature. It is easy for a sawyer to work with, glues fairly well and holds nails and screws. One of walnut’s attractions as hardwood flooring is that it can be polished to a high shine.