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We just bought a farm table, constructed from reclaimed barn wood from southern Missouri.

We transported the table in a closed trailer, from the Midwest to Northern CA during the summer heat... when we removed the carefully packed table...surprise, there was a huge crack along the grain of one board of the table top.

I have limited woodworking experience, but have some friends that can help.

Would it be at all effective to simply clamp the table top together and use a wood filler?

Any general advice of how to tackle this job?
 

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you really have 2 choices

First choice is to "repair" the crack by filling it with epoxy, taping the bottom and around the crack on the top and slowly filling it with the mixture until it is slightly above the surface. Clean out what ever is loose as it appears that a previous repair has failed. I would mix a dark sanding or sawdust with the epoxy to color it since it will be clear if you don't. Do not use a "filler" since it has no strength. You can drill a small hole at the end/beginning of the crack to prevent further movement.

The second choice is to saw apart the board in question and replace the cracked portion with a matching piece a much more involved operation requiring a straight edge guide, a good circular saw and sharp blade AND a matching piece of new plank.... :blink:
 
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The top appears to have been doweled or screwed through the top into the base. This didn't allow for wood movement and the top split. The way this was done it's possible the crack could get bigger or new cracks could form elsewhere. There is just no way to predict whether it will stay like it is or not. The crack that is there looks old to me. Someone may have already glued or patched the crack before and it re-opened.

The safest fix I would recommend removing the top from the table. Then repair the crack and then re-install the top with table top clips. This would allow for wood movement and releave any stress there may be there with the top trying to shrink. The crack you could work glue through the crack and clamp but I suspect there isn't enough wood there for it to hold. It might be necessary to put bow-tie patches on the back side to hold the crack together.
 

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Whatever you decide to do with the suggestions about, I would apply a sealer to the underside of the table to help prevent future expansion of the wood.
 

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Unfortunately, I see this a lot in my business - reclaimed tables. Sometimes guys think guys can do away with proper methods of attaching a table top since they are dealing with old, dry wood. My guess is the dowels in the table are to hide the screws used to attach the top. The screws do not allow for expansion or contraction. When the wood wants to expand of contract, it will move one way or the other. The screws are no longer the weak point, the partial crack was - the wood moved and the crack opened up.

I would go with the epoxy route. You can even dye the epoxy black (looks good with the darker oak). Tape underneath like the others have said. I use 5 minute epoxy for all crack filling applications. Mix good and use quickly, pouring into the crack. Let it run in. You may have to fill more than one time and some epoxy will shrink. Once hard, sand until smooth. I'm not a huge fan of mixing sanding dust on reclaimed oak - a lot of different colors going on and the repair never looks right, IMO. The knot in your picture was filled using this technique. Black epoxy looks much better.

My guess is that oil based poly was used on the top. If this is the case, You can always sand the top lightly and reapply another coat. I'm almost positive no stain was used on your table (although I can't be 100% sure on either the finish or the stain, but I think I am). Can you call the maker and see what finish was used?

Your immediate next order of business is to attach the top properly. As noted above, I use table top clips. Easy, quick, inexpensive and do the job. You will have to cut a slot in the aprons (if your table has one). In this case, a biscuit joiner will work well. Just set the depth so that the clips draws the top down a bit as you tighten the screw.

Edit - this is all assuming your top is screwed down to the table with the dowels covering the screws. If that's the case, the top is not coming off. Ehmm.

If you just fill the crack and leave the top attached improperly, you will find other splits.

Can you take a pic of the underside of your table?
 

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I would split the table top both sides of the crack , biscuit joint , and glue back together, re sand preferable through large drum sander and re polish.
 
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