Flat Sawn vs. Quarter Sawn Lumber

Before hardwood products ever make it to your deck, house or boat, a decision must first be made on how to cut the lumber. There are three ways that the lumber can be cut: flat sawn, rift sawn, and quater sawn.

Flat Sawn Rift Sawn Quarter Sawn Lumber Illustrations

Flat Sawn  |  Rift Sawn  |  Quarter Sawn

Each method makes a difference in the appearance of the wood grain and its durability. For this article, we’re going to focus on the flat sawn and quarter sawn techniques (since they are more common). Here are the basics of the flat sawn and quarter sawn methods to help you make a decision on which is the best for you.

flat sawn ipe deckingFlat Sawn Ipe Decking

Flat Sawn

This is the most common method, also known as plain sawn. This method has minimal waste and also showcases a “cathedral” look of annual rings. This look is the result of the annular rings being 45 degrees or less to the face of the board (known as tangential grain).

Flat sawn lumber is the most inexpensive option because it is the easiest to obtain. Generally 60-70% of the lumber from a log is flat sawn. The rest is quarter sawn or somewhere in between. This makes flat sawn more widely available and therefore cheaper. Logs can be cut to produce more quarter sawn but the yield from the log is lower and therefore more expensive. 

Overall, the flat sawn boards are popular for a reason — they are easy to come across and are more cost-effective than other cuts. If you’re looking for a solid cut that won’t go over-budget, you can’t go wrong by choosing the flat sawn method.


quarter sawn teak deckingQuarter Sawn Teak Decking

Quarter Sawn

The quarter sawn method is a little bit more costly. However, it’s also more dimensionally stable than the flat sawn boards. Just as the name suggests, quarter sawn lumber is cut into four quarters and then cut using the plain sawn method. The process overall is more time intensive, but it creates a unique pattern that stands out against the plain sawn lumber.

While quarter sawn boards are more expensive, they are going to hold paint better and wear more evenly on the surface. In addition, when it comes to abosorbing moisture, quarter sawn boards expand more in thickness than flat sawn boards. This causes the boards to be more stable than flat sawn boards (which expand more in width when abosrbing moisture).

Quarter sawn lumber is a little harder to find, but it’s worth it if you’re willing to spend a little more money on a more stable board that boasts unique designs.

What should you choose?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a cut for your hardwood. If you’re more concerned about budget and availability, plain sawn lumber will be the best choice. However, if you want a board that will withstand more moisture and has a more interesting design, you will want to consider the quarter sawn lumber. We suggest visiting your nearest hardwood distributor and seeing the boards for yourself before you make a decision.

Have any more questions about flat sawn vs. quarter sawn lumber? Give us a call at 1-800-999-7616.

Posted in Teak, Ipe, Marine, Teak Decking, Hardwood Decking, Siding & Soffits, Millwork, Outdoor Living, Technical Data | Leave a comment

When Should You Use Marine Grade Plywood?

Marine Grade plywood is an incredibly durable and versatile product - especially when it comes to water applications. Whether you're building a boat or adding wood accents to your bathroom, it may be the perfect choice for the job. Our Marine Grade plywood is made with lightweight Okoume wood, waterproof adhesive and contains no voids. This guarantees long-lasting durability against water. However, it does come at a higher cost than regular plywood. Because of this, it’s important to make sure that you’re making a wise investment. So, when should you use Marine Grade plywood? We've made a list of some of the top projects.

marine grade plywood stack close up

Boat Building

Whether building a small wooden boat or a large yacht, using marine grade plywood can be an excellent investment. First, it's pliable which makes it easier to work with when building curved structures like the hull of a boat. The plywood’s durability also makes it an excellent option for boat building of any scale. For boat hulls, it serves as reliable protection against leaks if the outer layer becomes scratched or damaged. If you’re building a boat, marine grade plywood is a long-lasting option that will protect your structure against damage and leaks.

Covered Docks

As you may have guessed, marine grade plywood is also a wise choice for docks. While other types of wood often have to be sanded and then treated annually, marine grade plywood will stand the test of time without this maintenance every year. For this reason, it is less likely to rot and warp because of the effects of constant water contact. The structure will remain intact and safe for many years to come.



Lake Platforms

Much like docks, lake platforms greatly benefit from using marine grade plywood as opposed to less durable plywood. If you don’t use it when building a floating structure in the water, you can count on it deteriorating prematurely. We recommend nailing and gluing several boards together and finishing the wood with a waterproof sealer. This will allow you to enjoy your floating platform for many years to come.


When it comes to interior uses for marine grade plywood, there are two places that experience the most moisture. The first is the bathroom. Using marine grade plywood can offer a different aesthetic than the standard materials used in bathrooms. It will also withstand the high moisture environment that comes from the shower and sink. Using it for flooring or a sink backsplash means you won't be taking any chances with rot or mold in your bathroom.


As you may have guessed, the kitchen is the second place in the interior of a home that often experiences the most moisture. Over time, steam and water can compromise the integrity of lesser grade wood in your kitchen. For a waterproof backsplash in your kitchen, marine grade plywood can make a statement and ward off the effects of constant moisture from steam and more. It can also be a great option for flooring or cabinets, depending on how much water they will come in contact with. 

We'd be happy to talk to you more about how marine grade plywood may be a great choice for your next project. Give us a call at 1-800-999-7616.

Posted in Marine Grade Plywood, Okoume, Marine | Leave a comment


In 1986 a Brazilian industrialist had a dream to build a three-masted staysail schooner. Handsome, powerful, and iconic, Peacemaker (originally christened Avany) was built by hand, using traditional methods, on a riverbank in southern Brazil. Built from the finest tropical hardwoods, including the highly desirable Brazilian hardwood Ipe, this ship stood out amongst more modern-looking boats.  



In 2000 a religious group bought Avany and spent the next seven years replacing all of the ship’s mechanical and electrical systems and rigging it as a barquentine, which is essentially a tall ship with three or more masts, with a square rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged main.


In the spring of 2007 the refurbished vessel set sail under the new name, Peacemaker. Since that initial voyage in 2007 Peacemaker has been sailing around the world teaching young people valuable seamanship, navigation, sailing and boat maintenance skills. It’s also been used as an event space and a dockside attraction from Ontario, Canada to Brazil.


In 2013, while on a voyage north from Brazil, Peacemaker found itself in need of hull repairs, and based on the word-of-mouth recommendations from seamen in the know, her captain docked in Mobile Bay to avail himself of Overseas Hardwoods Company’s unparalleled selection and service.


OHC invited the captain to select the specific 4”x12”x22’ long Ipe planks needed to make the hull repairs. After a short two weeks Peacemaker was once again seaworthy and as commanding as ever. There’s no doubt that anyone needing an exotic hardwoods supplier will be equally satisfied by the exceptional service, quality, and sheer volume of board feet OHC has available.

Posted in Ipe, Marine | Leave a comment

Nina repairs

Ask any American what he or she learned about Christopher Columbus’ arrival at the Americas and you’ll likely hear two things. First, in the year of 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. Second, his three ships were the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria.



The names of the ships evoke visions of billowing white sails, towering masts, and salty ocean spray. Textbook illustrators have offered drawings of these ships, but one ambitious and creative team decided to recreate the ships for a more immersive, living experience.


In 1986 the Columbus Foundation formed in the British Virgin Islands with the idea to recreate the vessels that arrived on American shores in 1492. The Niña was built in the fishing village of Valenca, Brazil, by expert shipbuilders using only hand tools such as axes, adzes, hand saws and chisels.


An American engineer and maritime historian joined local shipwrights known for using a traditional 15th-century shipbuilding technique likely used by the Spanish builders of the original ships. The Niña was launched in 1992 and is known to be the most authentic reproduction ever built.


In 2005 the foundation launched their second reproduction, the Pinta. The Pinta is a faithful reproduction of the original, except 15 feet longer and eight feet wider, to accommodate more visitors at one time.


There are currently no plans to build a reproduction Santa Maria as it had a larger draft, making it too large to navigate some of waterways in which the Niña and the Pinta sail.


These two ships currently operate as a touring maritime museum, sailing ten months of the year to different ports from Mobile Bay, AL to Clinton, IA and a multitude of other ports from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast to the Great Lakes and the Midwestern River System.


In 2010 the Niña suffered some damages caused by a cooking fire. Her captain, Morgan Sanger, heard from trusted sources that Overseas Hardwoods Company had Ipe lumber in all the sizes he needed, so he docked the Niña in Mobile Bay. Captain Sanger selected the best material for repairs including 6x6 timbers and a large quantity of 8/4 lumber.


Since 2010 the Niña and the Pinta have sailed to Mobile Bay every two years on their way north via the Midwestern River System. Their captains know that if their vessels require any further repairs, OHC will be able to provide them with the highest quality Ipe for every possible board length required.

Posted in Ipe, Marine | Leave a comment

Wood for Boats

The earliest boats go back 8,000 years ago, starting with dugout canoes. Those early dugout canoes ignited a desire to harness the power of the water and the wind, and mankind has built on that technology. Egyptians added sails, which paved the way for historical ships such as the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria, which in turn led to today’s luxury yachts, sport fishing boats and runabouts for pleasure cruising.

The structure of wooden boats has evolved over time, however, most of the basic components have only slightly changed. Since the dugout was essentially carved out of a log, advancements were made in creating a hull that mimics the human body with “ribs” and planking (skin).   Finish and trim improvements have drastically improved boat quality and durability as well as aesthetics.

 Let’s take a look at the structure of modern wooden boats.


 The boats’ ribs, named for the obvious way they resemble an animal’s ribs, were crafted from the crotch/splits of trees as they have inherent strength and are one solid piece. Today, these are typically made of strong but lightweight woods such as Juniper, Meranti or Douglas Fir. Plywood is also used to strengthen these rib parts, and help hold together the ribs until planking is put into place. In the past, when using solid lumber, ribs of the boat were steamed in order to bend them to the correct angle required to add maximum strength. The planking is then attached to the ribs.



The planking consists of boards that make up the outside of the boat’s hull. One type of hull planking is carvel, where the boards are fastened edge-to-edge, adding strength and creating a smooth surface. Another type of planking is lapstrake planking, which is when the planks are overlapped. This method is also called "clinker" construction.  You may see this type of planking on a small lake boat. In ancient days, fasteners were relied on to attach the planking during the boat’s construction, but modern waterproof glues are so superior that both carvel and clinker construction rely almost completely on glue for fastening. For many years Meranti (also known as Philippine Mahogany) was used by most wooden boat builders, including renowned boat builders like Rybovich, Chris Craft, Pacemaker, and others. Meranti planking is still used today, as well as Marine Grade Plywood which works in the same manner, but requires a little less time as it is typically ripped into larger pieces.


 Most wooden-hulled boats are finished in fiberglass after planking, which adds strength as well as sealing the hull for water tightness along the seams and joints. In addition, the fiberglass reduces moisture absorption which adds unnecessary weight to a boat. The smooth fiberglass surface also reduces resistance and drag on the watercraft, increasing speed and fuel economy.



 The trim includes all of the interior and exterior wood work: door trim, window trim, decking, floors, cover boards, transom, cabinets, etc. As this greatly influences the aesthetics of the boat, a high-end wood like Teak is typically chosen for these components.


No matter your style, or type boat you desire, almost every boat contains wooden components, from solid ribs, planking, Marine Grade Plywood, finish and trim. Not all wood and/or wood suppliers are the same. Make sure you check for quality, reliability and dependability of the material and the source, in order to ensure that you and your boat get the best. 




Posted in Marine | Leave a comment

The Best Decking for Docks

When building a dock, there are many factors to take into consideration: cost, safety, durability, and longevity. In this article we’ll discuss some differences between pressure treated pine, exotic hardwoods, and composite to help you find the best material for your dock.

Pressure-Treated Pine

The only real advantage to using pressure-treated pine on a dock is cost. It’s by far the least expensive option, but as is often the case, you get what you pay for. With proper care and refinishing every two to three years, the dock might last 10-15 years. Splintering, warping, cracking, and rotting is common with pressure-treated Pine, making it unsafe and likely to cause injury, especially on bare feet or with children.

Exotic Hardwoods

Exotic hardwoods cost more than pressure-treated pine, but that cost is recouped on the dock’s life expectancy. A dock crafted from Ipe, Cumaru, Garapa, or Tigerwood, if properly cared for, can last 25-30 years before structural maintenance is required. Not only will a dock made of these wood species last longer than pressure-treated Pine, but it will also stay smooth with a much lower chance of splintering, rotting, and warping. If insurance is a consideration, Ipe is a good choice, as it can receive up to a Class A fire rating. Ipe_Boat_House.jpg

To keep an exotic hardwood looking exactly as it did when it was installed, an UV-blocking oil must be applied every year, or you can choose to allow the wood to age naturally to a silvery-gray patina. This is a purely aesthetic decision, and the quality of the wood will not degrade if it’s allowed to weather naturally. Tigerwood_Texas_Boat_Dock.jpg


A composite material, made from recycled plastic and wood fiber, is also a good option for a dock. It’s pricier than pressure-treated Pine, but is almost maintenance free, won’t splinter, and doesn’t ever need to be refinished. It can, however, take on mildew stains, especially if it’s not swept and washed regularly. Because it’s so heavy, a composite dock will need more joist support than with wood or it will sag. Composite decking also heats up in the sun and can feel uncomfortably hot on bare feet.

While exotic hardwoods and composite decking have clear advantages over pressure-treated Pine, choosing between those two choices simply comes down to personal preference and budget. Choose an exotic hardwood like Ipe, Cumaru, Garapa, Tigerwood, or composite decking for your dock and it will have a long life expectancy, remain safe, and look beautiful for decades. 

Posted in Marine, Outdoor Living | Leave a comment

Plantation Teak Vs. Burmese Teak

When one lists the attributes of Teak, it almost seems too good to be true. Teak naturally resists rot, insects, and decay; doesn’t corrode when in contact with steel; has a beautiful, tight grain and weathers to a regal silver; is naturally non-skid; and is highly stable and easy to mill. It’s even been nicknamed “The King of Hardwoods.”


Burmese Teak is selectively harvested from well-managed forests in Myanmar (formerly known as Burma), and these trees supply some of the most stable, durable lumber in the world. Decades ago, there was a time when many countries refused to source from Myanmar due to political and humanitarian issues. During that time, Teak plantations in other countries began to crop up, and as demand for Teak increased “plantation Teak” (Tectona grandis) was grown in areas as widely varying as Costa Rica, Indonesia, and Mexico.

Unfortunately, the soil chemistry in these non-native locations is different enough from Myanmar’s soil that plantation Teak is inferior. The high silica content in Myanmar’s soil contributes to the water- and weather-resistance of the wood, so the soil chemistry and climate variations in other parts of the world result in a much less consistent color and grain. The color of plantation Teak is less lustrous and is slightly lighter in tone. As an interesting side note, the high silica content of the soil in Myanmar also contributes to the species’ non-skid texture.

Aside from soil chemistry, plantation Teak differs in another major way. Burmese Teak is extremely stable and durable. Plantation Teak, on the other hand, is more rapidly grown and harvested. This fast growth and harvest rate results in a lesser quality and may affect the denisty of the wood. Boards from plantation Teak are more likely to crack and warp as a result of the fast growth. These plantation trees have a larger percentage of lower branches, which, despite pruning, causes pin knots which create greater defects and slope of grain issues resulting in less stability. Plantation Teak requires more maintenance to make up for these deficiencies.

Because responsible harvesting practices are so important to us at OHC, we vet all of our sourcing mills/partners to ensure that harvesting, processing, manufacturing, and shipping meets and exceeds local, state, federal, and international regulations. We’ve toured mills across Myanmar to find the right suppliers to produce well manufacrtured Burmese Teak with the best quality, grain, and size selction for 

Thanks to Half A CenTury of importing international hardwoods, we have the knowledge and skills to source only the highest quality, responsibly sourced, 100% Burmese Mountain Teak available.

Posted in Teak, Marine, Millwork | Leave a comment

Spring Boat Commissioning Checklist

Flowers are blooming, temperatures are rising, and you’re starting to imagine yourself out on the water with the wind in your hair and a light spray of water across your face. The only thing between you and your dreams is commissioning your boat for spring!

boat and yacht commissioning

Here are some important areas to check to get your boat ready for the season:


This is a great place to start, as it will take the most time and create the biggest mess. If you didn’t change the oil before winterizing your boat, do so now. This will eliminate water and acid buildup, as well as preventing corrosion, poor fuel economy, and engine failure. While you’re changing the oil, replace the oil filter as well. Flush the cooling system and replace antifreeze with a 50/50 ratio of water to coolant. Replace seawater pump impellers on main engines and generators. Check all fluids and even lights. Install fresh spark plugs. Reconnect fuel lines and tighten or replace hose clamps if needed. Replace the batteries and perform an engine test.

Canvas and Vinyl

Check all vinyl and canvas items, including bimini top, seats, and covers for tears, dirt, and mildew. Repair any tears or holes and clean with an appropriate cleaner.


Inspect the hull for blisters or cracks, as well as chalky residue. Repair any blisters or cracks. The gelcoat on the exterior repels water and keeps the outer surface looking smooth. If you discover a chalky residue, it likely means oxidation is present. If only light oxidation is discovered (the finish will look mostly shiny with a few dull patches), then an oxidation removal compound may be applied and will restore the shine. For more severe oxidation, buffing and/or sanding will be required and professional intervention may be necessary. Once the gelcoat is restored, keep it cleaned and polished throughout the boating season using proper cleaning agents and polishes. Clean the rest of the exterior using a marine-safe cleaner. Apply a fresh coat of wax to the hull.


The metal and wood components, known as brightwork, bring beauty and personality to your boat. These parts need to be cared for to prevent pitting and degradation. To care for the metal, use a specialized metal polisher. For Teak or Meranti, it’s best to lightly sand and then apply stain and varnish. Four coats of varnish are the minimum for UV protection, but eight to twelve coats offer superior protection and less maintenance over time.

Electronics & Interior

Test all electronics, including radio, GPS, depth finder, compass, and any other marine electronics. This way you won’t be caught off guard on the water if you discover an electronic component isn’t working properly. Clean the interior thoroughly to remove dirt and debris. Dirt and debris invite moisture and moisture brings rot.

Boat Trailer

An often-neglected part of boating, you will increase the life of your boat trailer with a little care taken every year. Prevent rust by keeping it painted, repairing dings and nicks, and rinsing off salt water with fresh water. Check the winch straps and chains for wear, and lubricate winch if necessary. Check the bearings, light bulbs, tire pressure, and the license plate. Getting a ticket for an expired license plate is not the way to start off boating season!

Safety Gear

It can be easy to overlook this important component, but it’s essential to have all signaling devices, hand pumps, life preservers, first aid supplies, and fire extinguishers in good, working condition. Check expiration dates on anything with time-sensitive components.

Taking the time to adequately prepare for boating season will pay off in the long run with fewer repairs and hassles, ultimately giving you more time to enjoy your boat.

Posted in Teak, Meranti, Marine | Leave a comment

Why is Teak so Expensive?

The word “Teak” is synonymous with quality outdoor furniture, decking, and prestigious yachts. But as anyone who’s purchased Teak knows, that quality comes at a cost.


The basic law of supply and demand dictates much of this high cost.

Teak is in high demand because of its properties. It is durable; water-, pest- and rot-resistant; has only minor shrinkage; doesn’t corrode with steel; and very importantly, has a beautiful look, naturally weathering to a silvery-gray tone.

Teak (Tectona grandis) comes from Myanmar (formerly Burma), a country of 51 million people in Southeast Asia, bordering Bangladesh, India, China, Laos, and Thailand. Myanmar’s forests contain half of the world’s naturally occurring teak. Teak has also been cultivated in other parts of Southeast Asia, but this plantation Teak is generally viewed as inferior to indigenous Burmese Teak.

Several changes in Myanmar have contributed to an increased cost of Teak. For instance, the increase in government regulations have led to a decline in logging. While these measures exist to preserve the ecology of the country, they have caused the price to increase.

There is simply less Teak available.  

Formerly, companies were able to legally export logs, which has now been banned in favor of exporting only processed lumber. Paying more for a more processed product has led to an increased cost. It’s also difficult to obtain teak logs from the forest. OHC’s Teak is logged using ancient, traditional methods which are less disruptive to the forest than a skidder..

Another factor affecting the cost of Teak is civil unrest in Myanmar. Unfortunately Myanmar has had one of the longest-running civil wars in history. This unrest made it difficult and costly to do business there. While the dictatorship officially ended in 2011, many current political players are former military officers. Even so, the political situation has improved since 2011.

OHC’s Teak is 100% responsibly harvested and our partners in Myanmar participate in reforestation. However, the cost of Teak isn’t going to decrease any time in the near future.

Its limited supply, logging restrictions, and highly desirable quality are reflected in the price, but thankfully that high price is attached to an excellent, long-lasting product.

Posted in Teak, Marine, Millwork, Technical Data | Leave a comment

What is the best wood for Marine Grade Plywood?

Consider a boat: immersed in water, misted with caustic ocean spray, and pummeled by aggressive waves, one after another. Could there be a harsher, less friendly environment for wood? And yet wood is a prized boat-building material, spanning from the earliest boats carved out of logs to today’s highly technical yachts. Marine lumber must have specific characteristics such as strength, resistance to rot, and the ability to hold glue and fasteners well.


Many species of wood meet these requirements, but we believe that Okoume is the best possible species for use in Marine-Grade Plywood. 

Okoume is lightweight, doesn’t easily deteriorate in wet conditions, and is handsome enough to add beauty to any boat. Its grain is highly prized, is often compared to Mahogany and can be varnished to use decoratively. It can also be overlaid with a Teak or Ipe veneer. Okoume Marine Grade Plywood is typically used in combination with epoxy and fiberglass to increase strength while remaining lightweight, and can be found on a variety of boats, from single-person kayak builders to some of the world’s largest boat builders.

Marine Grade Plywood is used most typically for hull construction, but can also be used in interior applications. Although the outside of the boat battles the elements quite forcefully, the interior of a boat also needs to withstand moisture and humidity.

Okoume resists rot and performs well in damp conditions inside the boat thanks to its natural properties as well as the lamination process.

Both the wood and the plywood glue must meet specific standards to be considered marine grade. OHC uses Weather and Boil Proof (WBP) glue. Plywood assembled with WBP glue must be able to withstand boiling in water for several hours without delamination. The ability of a plywood to resist delamination under boiling depends not only on the quality of the glue, but also on the materials used and the quality of care used in its manufacturing. It is normally laminated with a ‘phenol-formaldehyde resin’ which sets permanently under heat and pressure. 

OHC’s Marine Grade Plywood meets BS-1088 specifications, which is the highest standard.

These British standards require that the plywood be made from untreated tropical hardwood veneers that have a stated level of resistance to fungal growth. The glue used must be resistant not only to weather, water, and heat, but also to micro-organisms that can deteriorate strength. Face veneers must also have a solid surface without open defects. By meeting BS-1088 specifications, OHC’s Marine Grade Plywood can be insured by Lloyd’s of London.

To build the best boats, the best quality Marine Grade Plywood must be used. Using a better grade will result in a higher value (including resale value), increased longevity of the boat, and a reduction in building time.

For the best quality boats, OHC’s Marine Grade Plywood, made with Okoume, is the obvious choice.


Posted in Marine Grade Plywood, Marine | Leave a comment