What Is Tiger Oak?

Tiger oak is oak that is milled into quarters at an angle to the growth rings of the tree. This method produces boards with heavy stippling visible in the grain. Tiger oak, also called quarter sawn oak, is used for cabinets, furniture and projects for which the flecked pattern of the boards is desired. Many historic homes in the United States have tiger oak wood floors.

Tiger oak boards are cut along the radius of the board at a 60 to 90 degree angle. Because of this angle, quarter sawn boards are strong and do not warp or twist easily. The line of the grain is vertical and straight. Tiger oak resists moisture and humidity better than some other cuts of lumber. Quarter sawn wood yields fewer boards per foot of timber and requires more manpower than plain sawn wood, so it is more expensive. However, it is more structurally sound and is considered more pleasing to look at than regular oak.

Most lumber mills plain saw the lumber at a 30 degree angle. Plain sawn lumber is the most commonly available. These boards look like they have hills and mountains sketched across the grain. Rift sawing at 30 to 60 degrees is a third sawing method. Rift sawn boards have a smooth, linear appearance with very few flecks visible in the grain. Rift sawing is the least efficient in yield and is the most expensive.