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maple table top crack repair

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Blog entry by inganmarcelo posted 01-23-2014 08:59 PM 2366 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Hi guys this is a picture of my maple table top that I recently completed.
This was my first commissioned work that I have completed.
I am not sure why but huge crack started to from at one of the slabs.
besides from my lack of experience I am guessing I have done something wrong when putting together this table.

I am wondering why this is happening. I planed the edges as much as possible.
but I did notice some small gaps when I put slabs together on the edge, which I glued and used kregs pocket hole screws. looks like slabs are pulling from the edges.

I am wondering. will this crack keep growing longer?
should I fill this crack with wax or poly or epoxy?
should I place a piece of wood to go across from underneath?

as always I am always greatful for all the experts at lumberjocks. you guys are great!!

thank you guys.



10 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4858 posts in 2278 days


#1 posted 01-23-2014 09:32 PM

Can you tell us more about the construction, like is it a solid slab top or laminations?
Was the lumber kiln dried, air dried, or green?

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View inganmarcelo's profile

inganmarcelo

6 posts in 1241 days


#2 posted 01-23-2014 09:53 PM

it was a solid 1” thick hard maple that I purchased from Rosenzweig Lumber Company in bronx NY.
as per the information on how they were dried, this information was not given to me when I purchased it.
I am guessing this information is critical when purchasing lumber? I didn’t know that since this was my first project.
I would have to contact them, on monday to find out.
thank you pintodeluxe.

View pintodeluxe's profile

pintodeluxe

4858 posts in 2278 days


#3 posted 01-23-2014 10:00 PM

Okay, so it was 1” thick lumber to start with. Did you glue multiple layers together, or is that an apron attached to the edge of the slab?
You can have problems in instances where wood is glued together in alternating grain directions. This is because wood expands primarily across its width, but hardly at all across its length.

If the moisture content was high, that can add to the problem.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View inganmarcelo's profile

inganmarcelo

6 posts in 1241 days


#4 posted 01-23-2014 11:06 PM

its an 45 degree apron attached to the edges, to make it look thick. 3” thick.

View Randy_ATX's profile

Randy_ATX

835 posts in 1907 days


#5 posted 01-24-2014 01:03 AM

Is it cracking along a glued joint or in the middle of a solid board?

-- Randy -- Austin, TX by way of Northwest (Woodville), OH

View JL7's profile

JL7

8427 posts in 2430 days


#6 posted 01-24-2014 01:13 AM

The apron is glued on cross grain and was likely built in the summer (higher humidity) and now it’s drying out, the top is shrinking much more than the apron, thus the crack. Just a guess.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View JL7's profile

JL7

8427 posts in 2430 days


#7 posted 01-24-2014 01:16 AM

The good news is the crack will disappear in the summer.

-- Jeff .... Minnesota, USA

View jimwoodguy's profile

jimwoodguy

1 post in 1580 days


#8 posted 01-24-2014 02:08 AM

It looks as though your skirt’s grain is running across the width of the top. As Pintodeluxe said, this will almost guarantee that the top will split because of disproportionate shrinkage between long grain and cross grain. When I make built up tops like this, I glue up the top extra long and cut the end grain skirt from each end of the top. This does two things, the grain can be matched perfectly from top to skirt, and the grain is oriented in the same direction for both parts. In your predicament this is hind sight and doesn’t fix your problem without rebuilding the top. It is pointless to fill the crack because as JL7 pointed out it will want to close up with changing seasons. It is important to allow for movement in a large surface, never glue; or use veneer on a stable substrate.

View Mean_Dean's profile

Mean_Dean

5056 posts in 2612 days


#9 posted 01-24-2014 02:13 AM

I think JL7 is exactly right. When I saw your photos of the crack, the first thing that came to mind was a wood-movement issue.

If you attached the tabletop to the apron with glue, then when the tabletop expands and contracts (there is no way to stop wood movement), the apron won’t let it move. But since the tabletop is going to move anyway, it cracked along the path of least resistance, as the drier air of winter caused the tabletop to contract. The crack (as JL7 relates) will close up during the summer as the tabletop swells due to wetter air.

The way to prevent cracking from happening is to allow for seasonal wood movement. Attach your apron with glue only in the center of the tabletop’s width. Then attach the apron to the tabletop’s edges with screws inside elongated holes in the apron. The elongated holes allow the tabletop to expand and contract, while still snug to the apron. This is how breadboard ends are attached to tabletops (your apron is a version of a breadboard end.)

Of course, when the tabletop swells during the summer, it’s going to push your apron joints apart at the corners, leaving a gap in your miter joints.

The only way I know of to have a wrap-around apron like yours is to use plywood (which doesn’t expand and contract) for the tabletop.

Another option is to have the apron below the tabletop, and attached to the legs with mortise/tenon, screws, or glue. Then attach the solid-wood tabletop to the base using “Z” clips in a groove in the shorter aprons. That way the tabletop can move, and the clips just slide around in the groove.

Hope this helps!

-- Dean

View inganmarcelo's profile

inganmarcelo

6 posts in 1241 days


#10 posted 01-24-2014 04:12 AM

you guys are great. i am so impressed.

yes, the table was constructed back in July when the heat was scorching hot with no AC.
yes, the crack started to happen, where the table end was 6” from the window.
yes, here in NY we got pounded by cold arctic blast for some weeks not.
yes, the table was left on cafe without Heat when the business closes during the night.

I totally understand how my table top is shrinking, and how my apron is against that.
and all that tension is causing the crack.
——————————————————————————-
as you suggested.
I would like to leave the table as is, with the crack, and wait for summer to close up the crack.
but this table being at a cafe requires to be in use day in, day out.
I am worried that debris, and liquid like soda might get in the crack and cause a huge stain or even cause decay.

I understand hard filler like glue, epoxy or poly is not good choice as the moisture returns when the season comes.
what do you guys think about wax? would these be good solution from blocking debris and liquids?
if all fails I am thinking of putting a clear tape over it and wait for the summer.

Thank you guys again, you guys are all geniuses.

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