about flatsawn stock again

About the flatsawn white oak I featured in the last post, got a number of comments discussing the tendency for this wood to distort upon drying. I fully expect it to do so, but there are few instances where I will use very wide boards. This log was 26″ wide when we sawed it, I think. I have to make a board chest in early summer, and the height of its carcass is going to be less than 20″ – so I will use the best boards to make its front, back & sides. lesser quality stuff to make its floor boards. In all likelihood I will make the lid from quartered stuff, glued-up into a wide panel. 

The bulk of a log like this then gets ripped to narrower widths; which gets me past the worst of the effects of distortion. England is full of very old furniture made from flatsawn oak. It’s certainly not the first choice; but it will work fine.

Read through this blog & you will know, my first choice is always the straightest-grain, riven, quartered clear oak. Green to boot…

But sometimes, as in the case of this log we bandsawed, it’s worth it to saw the log rather than turn the whole thing into firewood.

Jennie asked about how will it carve – we’ve been down this road before here; but it’s a chance to dig out some carvings for show & tell. all of these are carved in flatsawn oak. Some mine, some 17th-c English. worst case first, Devon, 1669 – the inside view shows a piece that should have been burned, then its carved front view.  

flatsawn oak, in joined chest


central muntin, joined oak chest, Devon

One of mine next; I don’t know what I did with this one, but it worked. Not as pleasant as carving the best quartered riven stock; but if it’s what you have, you can certainly work it.

carved flatsawn oak panel
These next two are from a cupboard from the Lakes District; c. 1690s. Some great variety in the stock in this cupboard; these are about average.
cupboard door with carved panel
carved flatsawn oak


white oak chest, 2009

This is a chest I made either in 2008 or 9; white oak with a white pine lid. The panels and central muntin are flatsawn white oak; the stiles and long rails are riven white oak.

So, we’ll check back in about 5 months on that pile of white oak. I expect some very good wood from it, and some real lousy stuff, and a lot of in-between.

12 thoughts on “about flatsawn stock again

    • Hi Ron
      I have used both hide glue & yellow glue for that sort of work. Sometimes I put wooden pins between the joints; but they don’t really do anything. Most often, I just glue it up. If I just have one joint to glue, I tend to use yellow glue. In my shop, I mostly use hide glue when I am applying turnings & moldings as the decorative scheme; or inlay.

  1. Peter: I am impressed.I have seen a bit of flatsawn work in uncarved chests,but not much with carving. It seems that busier carving hides the wood’s grain. If you are up to carving it, and I ber you are, go for it.

  2. Hi Peter,

    As usual very informative and great pictures. I am wondering if the lid to the 2009 carved chest is riven or sawn pine. I have not split much clear pine firewood so I am not sure of the ease of splitting.



  3. I doubt it is 17th century practice, but a couple of times when I wanted wide boards but had stock that wanted to do backflips (an oak tabletop in flatsawn wood 18″ or so), I ripped down the axis of the board, let it sit for a while to do what it was going to do, and then clamped the boards together, ripped it again and then jointed the boards, pinned and glued them back together. Took a lot of the tension out of the wood, and the boards have stayed flat. You can see the joint if you look for it, but at a glance it just looks like a wide board. The pins I figure will help keep the joint flat if there is still enough tension for the glue to allow the joint to creep. But I have never tried it without the pins so I don’t know if they are always necessary.

  4. I used to do shows with a hurdle maker who had learnt from his father 50 years before in the days when raw material was expensive and a mans wages comparatively cheap. He used to say any fool can make a hurdle out of good material. When they cut a coop of hazel every rod no matter how twisted had to go into a hurdle, that was the only way to make it pay. It took a skilled craftsman to make good work from second rate material but Peter Lane’s hurdles lasted longer than any other. It is easy today to forget that the cost of our timer is insignificant compared to the hours we work on it. It was not always that way. Even in 1998 when I visited Romania timber was valuable. The spoon carvers and turners there were paying the same for a tree as I paid in the UK yet they were selling a spoon for 10pence.

    • James – I was just in Maine, but fell short of Fairfield…the chest does look good, although new lid & silly hardware. It’s the 2nd one they have had in 3 years! Last one went for 35k or so. I’d like to see this one, but won’t get there. I think I’ll send a note for the high bidder to contact me if they’d like. Since the article in 1996, this is the 5th one I have seen, either in person or photos.

      • Yeah, chest needs restoration and there is no one more qualified to do this work than you.
        Yes, you should absolutely contact high bidder. Matter of fact, auction description references you & jennie article in Chipstone as evidence of Savell atribution.
        Pieces such as these are national treasures and deserve to be restored/ cared for properly.

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