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post #1 of 6 Old 09-27-2012, 01:09 PM Thread Starter
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Wood cracking

How do you keep wood from cracking or can you
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post #2 of 6 Old 09-27-2012, 01:36 PM
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A very open question. The answer is that sometimes we can minimize, sometimes we can prevent, and sometimes the wood does what it wants to do.

Are you asking about rough sawn lumber, of final dimensioned boards?

Wood cracks due to a change of moisture. Sometimes by losing moisture, but can also be due to gaining.

All wood has a moisture content. The mill or the store may have a stamp of the moisture level, e.g., "SD" - Surface Dry. This is < 19% moisture which is a lot more than most shops or houses. My PA location may have a relative humidity which equates to 6% - 11% moisture depending on the season.

For rough sawn lumber, sealing the ends helps to slow/control the loss of moisture to minimze cracking. Lots of threads on the site for methods of sealing.

Someone recently asked about a 3ft diameter horizontal slice from a tree. Such a large piece will be difficult to prevent cracking, also called checking, even if the piece is sealed.

For final dimensioned lumber, if this was done with boards which have a higher moisture content than you shop or house, the wood will lose moisture to try and reach the same moisture content as the air in your home or shop. Sometimes this can result in cracking.

If the dimensioned lumber has been glue into some project and is higher in moisture than the house, it will also lose moisture and shrink or "move". If the project is large enough the movement can be e.g. 1/8in and if the design did not allow for the movement, cracks will happen. As humidity (moisture) increases the cracks will appear to close, but they will still exist, they just may not be so easy to spot.
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-27-2012, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wiretwister View Post
How do you keep wood from cracking or can you
Need more info than that. Vague questions get vague answers. For starters lumber selection is the most important step in prevention.
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-27-2012, 03:25 PM Thread Starter
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Just got a lathe and I've been turning some dogwood into mushrooms. I put tung oil on a couple and notice they did not crack like the other two I did not put it on. Will soaking wood in tung oil stop or reduce the cracking or was it just the nature of the wood?
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post #5 of 6 Old 09-27-2012, 03:46 PM
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There lies the reason for details. Post that particular question to the wood turning section and you will likely get 101 ways to lesson the cracking. I suggest you post pictures of it there to. Pictures are just further details to help identify the problem.

There are too many variables in wood working so assume.

Dave and myself were both obviously under the impression you were talking about flat work.

Good luck.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-27-2012, 06:40 PM
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Originally Posted by firemedic View Post
There lies the reason for details. Post that particular question to the wood turning section and you will likely get 101 ways to lesson the cracking. I suggest you post pictures of it there to. Pictures are just further details to help identify the problem.

There are too many variables in wood working so assume.

Dave and myself were both obviously under the impression you were talking about flat work.

Good luck.
+1 with Firemedic. Vague question, and I replied for flat work. This is a better topic for a post in the Woodturners forum.

Tung oil is a common finish on my projects, but it will not do anything to prevent wood cracking.

If you are turning, is this green or dried wood?

If the wood is green, you need to dry slow and allow for the moisture to be removed gradually, unless you want to try the denatured alcohol method.

If the wood is dry, so many variables can cause the turned piece to crack. As Firemedic said, we need to see pictures.
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