This section is from the book "The Building Trades Pocketbook", by International Correspondence Schools. Also available from Amazon: Building Trades Pocketbook: a Handy Manual of reference on Building Construction.
The term quarter sawed signifies that the log is cut into quarters before being reduced to boards, while the term bastard sawed denotes that all the saw cuts are parallel to the squared side of the log. In genuine quarter sawing (also called rift sawing) the cuts should be as nearly as possible at right angles with the circles of growth, or parallel with the medullary rays a, as shown in Fig. 2; while in bastard sawing, the cuts are nearly parallel with the circles of growth and expose the edges of the medullary rays a and the fullface grain of the laminations, as shown at b' and c' in Fig. 3. The advantages in quarter sawing material having well-defined medullary rays are that it wears better, shrinks less, and the silver grain presents a very fine effect.
Fig. 4 illustrates four methods of cutting the boards from the "quarters." The tree is first quartered by cutting it on lines a b and c d, after which the quarters may be reduced to boards by any of the methods shown. The best results are secured by the method shown between a and c, as the saw cuts are nearly on radial lines, and the full face of the silver grain will be exhibited. The section between c and b shows the next best method; fewer triangular strips are formed, but the boards will not present as rich an effect, as many of the medullary rays are cut obliquely. The result of cutting the section between a and d, while economical in material, will not give as good results as the two former methods. Where thick material is desired, the system of cutting shown on the section between d and b is adopted, the cuts being made in the order in which they are marked.
As before stated, the best effects are produced when the saw cuts come parallel, or nearly so, with the medullary rays this is shown in Fig. 2. These rays on the end section are marked a, and are seen to cross the annual rings b and c at nearly right angles, so that the edges of these rings are exposed on the face, and through which the silver grain a' emerges. The value of quarter sawing does not consist merely in the beautiful figuring of the material, but as it places the medullary rays at right angles with the annual rings, it is found that the quartered material shrinks less than one-quarter as much in the width as the common-sawed stock. This is an invaluable virtue, which the joiner and cabinetmaker are not slow to appreciate. Quarter-sawed stock is also less sensitive to changes of temperature, and when once thoroughly seasoned and well put together, it makes an admirable finish both for interior treatment and furniture, and its beauty is greatly enhanced with age.