Best way to fill table cracks?

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Forum topic by JFlynn posted 11-13-2015 06:35 PM 507 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 349 days

11-13-2015 06:35 PM

I built this table over the summer in my garage, but a few days after bringing it inside, the cracks started appearing between each board. I guess I found out the hard way how much heat and humidity affects wood. Each board is glued to a piece of plywood. The size of the cracks vary from the thickness of a fingernail to ~1/8”, but they’re all about 1/2” deep. The table is finished with water-based Helmsman spar urethane. What would be the best way to fill the cracks? Wood putty? A wax filler stick? I’m kinda new to this, so I wasn’t sure if the finish of the table matters.

7 replies so far

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#1 posted 11-13-2015 06:37 PM

I would fill them up with epoxy.


-- Brad in FL - To be old and wise, you must first be young and stupid

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#2 posted 11-13-2015 07:15 PM

The right way to build this it to allow for expansion and contraction. If you use epoxy of seal it in some way the wood may warp as it tries to expand when things get sticky again. By fixing each board right to plygood you will always have these types of issues. Because these are glued in place there isn’t much you can do to stop this particular issue. If you want to replace the top, make sure that you glue the pieces to eachother, then glue only the first column to the plygood. You can use another mounting system to hold the opposite edge, one that will move with the wood. Or you could build entirely out of solid wood and avoid the whole issue.

-- Talent, brilliance, and humility are my virtues.

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#3 posted 11-13-2015 09:54 PM

I don’t know if anything could save the top. It looks like you got pine fresh from a box store which comes dripping wet and shrinks a lot. I always make sure wood is acclimated/dry before building furniture.

I don’t know if this will work or if it’s just a bad idea. Maybe sand the finish off, blow the dust off, and then wet sand with a thinned out urethane.

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#4 posted 11-13-2015 10:04 PM

This certainly doesn’t answer the question of how to fix it, but it might be helpful to know if the boards were flattened and edge jointed prior to glue up?

Regarding a fix…epoxy at least offers some adhesion between the boards.

-- Happiness is like wetting your pants...everyone can see it, but only you can feel the warmth....

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244 posts in 355 days

#5 posted 11-13-2015 10:07 PM

For a single plank to shrink that much indicates that the wood was far from dry. There is nothing you can do in the short future until things stabilize, then you can fill the cracks with epoxy and re-coat the entire table, underside also .

-- PJ

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2 posts in 349 days

#6 posted 11-13-2015 10:08 PM

Thanks for the tips. At this point, replacing the top isn’t gonna happen. I used red oak for the skirt and pine for the legs, but the top is all pallet wood, so its several kinds of wood and all behaved differently to the urethane and shrinkage. I really didn’t want to have to sand the top down to fix the cracks, but if that’s my only option then I’ll probably just live with it as is.

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Greg In Maryland

550 posts in 2421 days

#7 posted 11-14-2015 12:12 AM

I would not “do” anything.

Instead cover it with a large sheet of glass and forget about the cracks. Obviously this won’t prevent the self destruction of the table due to seasonal movement, but it will alleviate the need for a repair job. Just don’t get water between the glass and the table top, and don’t drop anything heavy on the glass. Otherwise, you should be fine with a glass top.

This presumes that the top is completely flat. Glass won’t work if there are waves or other irregularities on the top.

You did a nice job on the table. Now that you know a bit more about shrinkage, you’ll do better next time.

Good luck!


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