The way in which the wood is cut also affects its look, as well as its cost.
Plain sawn is the most common and cost-effective cut. Growth rings are parallel to the board's surface. This creates the grainy pattern you see most often.
Quarter sawn is a specialty cut with a higher price tag than plain sawn. Logs are sliced into triangular quarters - like a pizza - and then cut quarter by quarter. Growth rings are perpendicular to the board's face, creating a straighter-looking grain with more consistent coloring.