Split desk top stable repair possible?

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Forum topic by NuttyPistons posted 03-08-2016 07:38 PM 348 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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4 posts in 233 days

03-08-2016 07:38 PM


Longtime lurker, first time poster here. I am trying to decide if I should buy a nice desk at a deep discount because there are a few cracks in it (300 down from 2000). Before jumping in I need to figure out if I can make a repair that will be stable without a huge amount of time committed.

I have a little woodworking experience (designing and building a console table is my most ambitious project to date) and have done some furniture refinishing but don’t have much in the way of woodworking tools yet. My projects have all been done mostly with a circ saw, jigsaw, rotary sander and hand drills thus far. Ideally i’d like to be able to clean out/fill in the cracks with something that will prevent more splitting without the need to do major refinishing work. Since the table is somewhat rustic styled it doesn’t need to look perfect as I kind of like a little “character” in my wood furniture.

The most worrying crack is the one that extends down the side and looks to have completely separated a glue joint the entire length of the bottom of one side. There are also a couple other of the same desk with similar issues, one of them with a sizable crack the entire length of the desk top. Perhaps this means that is this a poor design issue that I should just stay away from.

So is this a project worth tackling at this price, or should I move on? On to the pictures!

And just for kicks here is a picture of my first, and still most ambitious woodworking project to date.

Thank you very much in advance for any help you can give me!


11 replies so far

View jdh122's profile


878 posts in 2242 days

#1 posted 03-08-2016 08:41 PM

Looks to me like that crack developed because of the way the legs are attached – that metal strap on the bottom doesn’t allow for wood movement so the case pretty much shrunk itself apart during the dry season. It’s a shame, since all they would have needed to do was make slots instead of holes in the metal. Definitely poor design.
It’s not going to be easy to repair. Once you deal with the wood movement problem in the design you might be able to force glue into the crack and clamp it back up, but given that the crack is on the old glue line and since wood glue doesn’t really stick to dried wood glue it’s going to be pretty iffy. I’d probably pass on it, but others may have different ideas on how to repair it.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View runswithscissors's profile


2127 posts in 1449 days

#2 posted 03-08-2016 08:43 PM

I don’t know whether you can control movement in this desk top. Others may suggest how to do that. But my first choice would be to fill the crack with a non-hardening material like beeswax, as that will stay soft and move with the wood. I’m not sure how to color the wax, though. Maybe others have some ideas.

There are also the tinted “crayons” for filling stained wood. Don’t know whether they make one with that dark a color.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

View NuttyPistons's profile


4 posts in 233 days

#3 posted 03-08-2016 09:06 PM

Thanks for the input guys. The biggest crack is definitely the one that extends along the bottom of the drawer area. Being that the movement is “stabilized” on the bottom by virtue of the poorly designed metal plates the legs are attached on, would it even be necessary to try to close the bottom crack? Could I just fill the crack on the side for aesthetics and leave the bottom portion open? It doesn’t effect the function of the drawers at all, and would not be visible. I guess that assumes the crack is as wide as it will get however.

Would using a softer filler leave the wood more likely to continue to split along the existing cracks?

View JoeinGa's profile


7386 posts in 1431 days

#4 posted 03-08-2016 09:20 PM

A $2000 desk for $300? Oh heck yeah! I think with a few clamps, some superglue, sandpaper and some stain you could be in business.

Like Jeremy said “Wood glue doesn’t stick to itself very well” ... but super glue will!
I’d take the legs off, squeeze as much superglue into each crack and clamp it tight. Because that glue sets fast, do one crack at a time. Move the leg brackets to a new position (so your not stressing the wood in the same place) pre-drill pilot holes and screw ‘em back on. Might need a bit of wood filler to bring the level of the cracks up with the wood surface. A little sanding (probably about 400 grit), a bit of dark stain and maybe a coat or 2 of satin lacquer. I think it’s VERY do-able.

Oh, and WELCOME to LJs !

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View johnstoneb's profile


2108 posts in 1597 days

#5 posted 03-08-2016 09:49 PM

I think some fat ass sat on it and the legs splayed out. That is nothing but a steel strap across the bottom. It would bend with very little weight. As Joe in GA says go for it.

It is a nice looking desk.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View McFly's profile


182 posts in 451 days

#6 posted 03-08-2016 10:14 PM

Furniture crayons might not match it very well, but know who can? Crayola. Made from the stuff and they have a surprising variety of colors available!

View Bob5103's profile


23 posts in 258 days

#7 posted 03-08-2016 10:45 PM

What kind of wood is it? Is the solid or veneered? If solid I would fix the metal strap issue, then put in a coupled of dutchmen (bow ties) across the crack and fill the remaining crack with epoxy. Refinish the top and you have a cool looking desk.

View chrisstef's profile


15489 posts in 2430 days

#8 posted 03-08-2016 11:34 PM

Id go for it. $1700 discount is pretty strong.

I wonder if the dovetails were too tight? Ive split my fair share. Not sure if that happens on machine cut tails though.

$300 bones dont get a ton in an ikea desk. A couple splits in that desk is still far better than most desks i could pony up for.

-- "there aren’t many hand tools as awe-inspiring as the #8 jointer. I mean, it just reeks of cast iron heft and hubris" - Smitty

View NuttyPistons's profile


4 posts in 233 days

#9 posted 03-09-2016 12:32 AM

Its solid wood. Sounds like most of you think I should go for it. I really appreciate the suggestions. I will jump on it and update on how fixing it up goes. I really like the dutchmen look on cracked pieces I have seen, although that would certainly be a more involved repair.

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4 posts in 233 days

#10 posted 03-10-2016 06:46 PM

Alas, it was not to be. Apparently someone swooped in not long after I checked it out. Drat! Anyways, thanks for the help and suggestions guys.

View JoeinGa's profile


7386 posts in 1431 days

#11 posted 03-10-2016 08:29 PM

Too bad. Unfortunately that old saying “He who hesitates is lost” still stands true …

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

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