Waxed Wood Blanks and Checking

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Forum topic by MichaelWolfe posted 09-10-2015 04:34 PM 684 views 0 times favorited 3 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View MichaelWolfe's profile


2 posts in 1190 days

09-10-2015 04:34 PM

Newbie question here… I bought some 4×4x12 inch turning blanks that came to me coated in wax. I kept them for a few months, but never did anything to the wood or the wax until last weekend. I didnt really plan on turning them, but anyway. I removed the exterior wax by slicing thin layers off the sides with the table saw. Then I ran it through the planer to get nice smooth 3 1/2×3 1/2×12 inch piece of hickory. I routed some grooves in this piece of wood for a pen holder and card holder for a desk top item I was making.

I was pretty pleased with it and let it sit here on a coffee table in my house. Now I am seeing that it is developing all sorts of checks. I am guessing this is becasue of the air-conditioning or something. And I am guessing there is nothing I can do not that it has begun to save this piece. But how can I prevent this checking on other pieces (I have a couple of other blanks that I was going to make similar items from)?

Sorry for the long question, but wanted to try to provide all the right info needed.

3 replies so far

View WDHLT15's profile


1792 posts in 2676 days

#1 posted 09-11-2015 12:53 AM

Your wood was not dry when the wax was applied. The wax prevented any further drying. When you removed the wax, the wood began to dry again. 4” thick hardwood is very difficult to dry without splitting and checking, and it will almost always do this if the piece contains the pith.

4” thick wood has to dry much more slowly than a 1” piece. Since you exposed the wet wood, and it was in your house with low humidity, the 4” piece is drying too fast. It would be better off outside in the garage or shed or somewhere that is not climate controlled until the piece is below 20% moisture content. Then, you can dry it faster.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View SSG's profile


39 posts in 2283 days

#2 posted 09-11-2015 02:14 AM

Hickory is a pain in the butt to dry, but before you try your next blank submerge your blanks in Denatured Alcohol. If you choose to use Isopropyl Alcohol it may not work as well. Denatured Alcohol has a higher Alcohol content. Leave it soak for an hour maybe, I have used this trick for wood cookie slabs. I was told to leave the cookie slab soaking for 4 hours but that was much longer than it needed. You might get away with 15 min, but that depends on how fast hickory will fully absorb the Alcohol. It will need a few days to a few weeks to dry.

When your pen/card holder fully dries mix black epoxy pigment with epoxy to fill in the checks for a really cool effect.

View MichaelWolfe's profile


2 posts in 1190 days

#3 posted 09-12-2015 03:49 AM

Thanks SSG, the Denature Alcohol trick sounds like an interesting process that I will have to try. Do you think it will work for other wood, like oak?

I also like your idea of saving the piece by using a colored filler. The checking seems to have stopped, and is not too bad, so maybe a colored fill would be an opportunity.

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