Step 1: Grain Structure
*Flat Sawn - The most common and least dimensinoally stable cut. Often used for floating panels and table tops. Most likely to warp and cup, but generally considered the most visually striking. If you know how to compensate for wood movement this is a suitable cut for any project. A board is classified as flat sawn when the annual rings are parallel, or close to parallel to the face of the board.
* Rift Sawn - Commonly used for legs in furniture as all four faces show identical grain structure. Also used for stiles and rails of doors. A board is classified as rift sawn when the annual rings are around 45 degrees to the face of the board.
*Quarter Sawn - The most dimensionally stable cut. Often used in stiles and rails of frame and panel doors and case sides. Tends to look a bit boring. Some people like boring. Also used for drawer parts. A board is classified as quarter sawn when the annual rings are perpendicular (or anything above 60 something degrees or something like that...google it) to the face of the board.