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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello! New here, and new to woodworking of all sorts. My previous experience is limited to getting a nice man at Home Depot to cut me a piece of plywood so I could attach some legs to it and call it a computer desk. (Apart from my botched attempt at staining, it's actually a pretty good computer desk.)

I come seeking advice. Like only an eager and uneducated idiot can, I went and ordered something with only the vaguest of plans: specifically, a slab of live edge walnut, which I'm hoping to finish, attach legs to, and call a coffee table. Here it is:

big.jpg

For scale, it's about 5' long. On closer inspection I've noticed a crack about 0.5mm wide:

crack.jpg

If I flip the piece over it's a hairline on the other side, but it's there.

Is this something I need to worry about? If so, how should I manage it - does it want filling in, sealing over, clamping shut, a bowtie, or something else?

Also, am I going to be able to keep the bark on (and possibly reattach what's fallen off), or should I just rip it off and smooth out the edges?

TIA - I look forward to receiving the bountiful gift of the internet's knowledge.
 

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The crack will get wider. Is the wood fresh cut or is it seasoned? You might put a bowtie patch on it and if it is seasoned go ahead and use the cookie. If it is fresh cut you might want to put the patch in it and wait a year or two before using it.

A bowtie patch is a piece of wood 1/2" to 3/4" thick cut in the shape of a bowtie with the grain running perpendicular to the crack and you mortise the walnut out to insert it over the crack. The shape of the patch prevents the crack from opening up further. At the same time you can work glue into the crack by putting a bead of glue over the crack and rubbing it in with your thumb. If you are patient and keep applying glue you can usually get glue to go all the way through to the other side.
 

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Gideon's walnut slab tables have bowties

These will show what the are and how they are created:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks all!

The crack will get wider. Is the wood fresh cut or is it seasoned? You might put a bowtie patch on it and if it is seasoned go ahead and use the cookie.
It's been kiln dried, but I don't know how long ago it was cut.

What's a cookie?

Also, should I do anything to keep the other holes in check, or can I leave them there for character?
 

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Maybe some other people can jump in on this for advice, but I have read articles about using PEG to stabilize wood slabs. It is supposed to soak into the wood cells and prevent them from collapsing. It can be used on wood turnings, sculptures, and slab table tops. Here is a link to the product...

http://www.rockler.com/polyethylene-glycol-peg-green-wood-stabilizer

Here is a link to learn more about it...
http://owic.oregonstate.edu/sites/default/files/pubs/peg.pdf

If you don't stabilize the wood it will crack more. Even with the bowtie it might form other cracks as the wood shrinks.

Update: I just saw that you posted that the slab was kiln dried. The PEG won't work then....it is for "green" wood that has considerable moisture in it.
 

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This table is obviously going to look very rustic ( hence re- glueing the bark back on) so why not leave the crack as a feature and fix it later on in life if necessary.
 

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Thanks all!


It's been kiln dried, but I don't know how long ago it was cut.

What's a cookie?

Also, should I do anything to keep the other holes in check, or can I leave them there for character?
You purchased a slice of the tree, which we call a "cookie".

Cookies are famous for cracking at they dry. Your cookie may have been kiln dried, but was likely still a higher moisture content than your shop, and the eventual house location.

This means more moisture may be lost, so more dimension change, and perhaps more cracking, or the crack widens.

Woodnthings showed bowtie method to try and control the cracking.

I would let this sit in the shop to get equilibrium with the shop, see what happens, and once stable, then apply the bowties.

A cookie has the biggest ratio of end grain to face grain, so is likely to have the most movement or dimension change due to moisture loss as it dries.
 

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Okay, now that I know that it has been kiln dried there are some more options. I have used 2 part epoxy glue that comes in the double syringes to fill knot holes and cracks in wood. It can be colored with paint pigment. I beg some brown from the paint store in a tiny pill dispenser. As you mix the A and B from the syringe, add just a speck of pigment. Use a putty knife to mash it into the knot hole or crack and let it set up. Then, you can sand it smooth. Once you sand it with 150 grit along with the rest of the surface and put a finish on it, it will give a nice filled in look. I like it better than wood filler in some cases. If you add the pigment at the very end of the mixing and leave it swirly, you can get more of a marbled look.

This is an option...not a command.
 

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Dave Paine said:
You purchased a slice of the tree, which we call a "cookie". Cookies are famous for cracking at they dry. Your cookie may have been kiln dried, but was likely still a higher moisture content than your shop, and the eventual house location. This means more moisture may be lost, so more dimension change, and perhaps more cracking, or the crack widens. Woodnthings showed bowtie method to try and control the cracking. I would let this sit in the shop to get equilibrium with the shop, see what happens, and once stable, then apply the bowties. A cookie has the biggest ratio of end grain to face grain, so is likely to have the most movement or dimension change due to moisture loss as it dries.
Good points here because a lot of people believe that Kiln Dried wood is the same seasoned wood,,not so. Kiln dried will still cup ,bow, twist and do other nasty things as it seasons.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Fantastic! The more you know...

My shop is my living room (told you I was an amateur!), so I'll leave it there over the holiday break to acclimatise and let it do what it wants to. It'll also give me time to weigh up whether to glue or bowtie.

Two more questions re bowties, if I may:

1. What do I have to take into consideration when picking wood for the bowtie? I know I have to make the grain perpendicular to the crack but is there anything I need to take into account other than aesthetics?

2. How many do I need? I'm thinking two - 1/3 and 2/3 along the crack. Does that seem reasonable?
 

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So having decided that the holiday period will stabilize your wood, what tools will you be using, in your living room to cut the bow-ties ( which can actually be hidden by working from the underside).? I wish you every success but I think you are trying to walk before you learn to run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
So having decided that the holiday period will stabilize your wood, what tools will you be using, in your living room to cut the bow-ties
Kitchen scissors. :icon_rolleyes:

I wish you every success but I think you are trying to walk before you learn to run.
Yes, I admit I'm a novice with a chronic case of How Hard Can It Be, which is why I'm asking for advice. This is a learning experience and as long as I come out of this with the same number of fingers that I started with, it's all good.
 

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Good luck,I started in the living room as well. My wood working hobby was learnt on a pile of wasted wood that would put mount everest to shame. I don't regret one inch of it.
 

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Two more questions re bowties, if I may:

1. What do I have to take into consideration when picking wood for the bowtie? I know I have to make the grain perpendicular to the crack but is there anything I need to take into account other than aesthetics?

2. How many do I need? I'm thinking two - 1/3 and 2/3 along the crack. Does that seem reasonable?
You want a dense wood so it has some strength. You do not want the cookie breaking the bowtie. Heartwood walnut works. Most people go for a nice contrasting wood so the bowtie becomes part of the design. Hard maple for example would be a nice contrast.

Yellowheart may also look nice. A recent board where I used yellowheart bowties just for some visual interest. Board is hard maple and walnut.

Decorative_board_after_finish_angle_view_1744.jpg

2 bowties should be sufficient.

FYI, the normal method is for the bowtie to be 1/3 - 1/2 the thickness of the wood.

Bowties can be hand cut, as the Gideon example, or you can use a router with special bit/bearing and a template.

The bit and bearing. Cuts the inlay and the hole in the board.

Remove the bushing to cut the inlay. Add the bushing to cut the hole in the board.

http://www.woodcraft.com/product/20...-solid-brass-router-inlay-router-bit-set.aspx

The template
http://www.woodcraft.com/Product/2005514/16479/Butterfly-Inlay-Template.aspx
 

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another approach

 

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Hello! New here, and new to woodworking of all sorts. My previous experience is limited to getting a nice man at Home Depot to cut me a piece of plywood so I could attach some legs to it and call it a computer desk. (Apart from my botched attempt at staining, it's actually a pretty good computer desk.)

I come seeking advice. Like only an eager and uneducated idiot can, I went and ordered something with only the vaguest of plans: specifically, a slab of live edge walnut, which I'm hoping to finish, attach legs to, and call a coffee table. Here it is:

View attachment 84742

For scale, it's about 5' long. On closer inspection I've noticed a crack about 0.5mm wide:

View attachment 84743

If I flip the piece over it's a hairline on the other side, but it's there.

Is this something I need to worry about? If so, how should I manage it - does it want filling in, sealing over, clamping shut, a bowtie, or something else?

Also, am I going to be able to keep the bark on (and possibly reattach what's fallen off), or should I just rip it off and smooth out the edges?

TIA - I look forward to receiving the bountiful gift of the internet's knowledge.
if you don't want to see the crack, use the bow ties on the botton side than that may hepl , but maybe if you don't mind the bow ties than i would do both sides, this may help more ? good luck also use some sealer on the table before you put stain or it will go darker than you want, the crotch like that will, i my self use's blotch control by charles neil, but the cost may be more than you want to spend, eather way it may be worth it, it can be used on other wood ? here is the link , you deside
 

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Is epoxy just used for filling voids or can it be used to keep cracks from spreading as well?
 

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The drying stresses set up by evaporating water from wood are enormous. That cookie will move forever with changing humidity, long after it is (technically speaking) dry.

Me? I'd stuff the crack with all sorts of interesting things, fishing flies, colored beads, mouse skulls if you can find them. Things that have stories to tell, whether you're willing to admint it or not. Then mix a batch of fiberglas methacrylate boat resin and fill the crack to embed the items of interest. Cockroaches and opened/unbent 2" shark hooks look cool.
 
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