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Branding iron caused a split in end grain maple cutting board... what to do now? (Photo included.)

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Forum topic by Jonathan posted 01-16-2012 01:20 AM 2430 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2517 days


01-16-2012 01:20 AM

This is on the back side of an end grain cutting board that I’m almost finished with. I vacuumed it off this morning, then thoroughly cleaned it with mineral spirits and set it outside to dry. Not all that warm out today, so the board got down to probably 45-50 degrees over the coarse of several hours. I brought it inside, then used the branding iron on it. I had to hit it twice with the iron, as the transfer wasn’t complete after the first try (which also explains why there’s a bit of a ghost image since I didn’t get it perfectly aligned the second time).

After lifting the branding iron off the second time, I heard a small pop. I looked down and saw the larger of the two cracks that runs through the “A” in Jonathan, then the left wing, and up through “RA” in “CRAFTED”. A few seconds later, I heard another little popping sound and looked again to see a smaller, narrower crack that’s hard to see in the photo. It runs through the right wing and down through one of the “E”s in my last name.

I haven’t had this happen before, and I’m thinking it was because of the sudden temperature fluctuation within the wood, especially since it went down through the end grain, causing the wood to dry out ever so slightly and crack. This is all kiln-dried wood, by the way.

I believe these cracks to be fairly shallow, but I don’t want them to get any worse. At this point, they’re only on the underside of the board, which I’m not too concerned about, but I don’t want them getting any bigger and going all the way through to the front of the board, which is about 2-1/8” thick.

I plan on finishing this board with mineral oil and wax. I am wondering if I should try to use a little thin CA glue in the cracks or not? That will create the issue of the mineral oil not taking there, and causing a color variation. And if I apply the mineral oil first, I’m thinking that trying to apply CA glue after that won’t be effective.

Any thoughts on this predicament?

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."


15 replies so far

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jack1

2057 posts in 3493 days


#1 posted 01-16-2012 01:58 AM

It may also close up with your oil and wax finish by itself. Visible but not the end of the world I think.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2517 days


#2 posted 01-16-2012 02:10 AM

Just had never had this happen before. The smaller of the 2-cracks seems to have closed up a bit on its own. I thought that the oil might swell the fibers slightly. I just want to make sure it doesn’t get worse. I can live with them if they stay the way they are.

Thanks for the reply Jack!

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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jack1

2057 posts in 3493 days


#3 posted 01-16-2012 02:14 AM

Before you screw and glue (just kidding), give it a couple of days indoors where it’ll be used. I think if you oil it, it will look like a feature of the wood, not a crack. Let us know.

-- jack -- ...measure once, curse twice!

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smndrummer

47 posts in 1811 days


#4 posted 01-16-2012 02:23 AM

I’m with Jack on this one. Wood isnt perfect, neither are we. I doubt the crack will continue, and you have a lot of other wood holding it together. – Rich

-- - Rich

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Bill Davis

226 posts in 3390 days


#5 posted 01-16-2012 03:06 AM

Jonathan
Here’s my theory. Both cracks are exactly perpendicular with the growth rings. That is the same as commonly seen end-grain checks caused when a piece of wood drys and shrinks. Since the maximum shrinkage is in a tangential direction a tremendous amount of force pulls along the line of the ring causing checks or splits perpendicular to the rings.
So I think you were right. The heat from the branding iron caused the localized and fast drying that caused the cracks. It also could be that the cracks were already there, just reopened by shrinkage caused by drying from the hot iron. Even though the wood was kiln dried, it likely still had some moisture still in it. And kiln drying is not permanent as wood is hygroscopic and is constantly drying and absorbing moisture depending on the RH around the piece.
I’m with the guys who would do the wait and see before trying any gluing remedy.

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stefang

15512 posts in 2800 days


#6 posted 01-16-2012 04:24 PM

CA glue will make the wood darker where you apply it, but so will the mineral oil, so I doubt there would be much difference when you cover the area with the finish. Another more risky way to fix the cracks is to thin some PVA glue with water and put it into the cracks. That will cause the wood to swell and the cracks to close. As they dry, the glue will hold the cracks together. The risk is that you get some glue on the surface, which is hard to remove, especially in end grain. Whatever you do, Let us know how it came out.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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StumpyNubs

6856 posts in 2267 days


#7 posted 01-16-2012 04:36 PM

Try it out on a cow and see if that splits… Sorry, couldn’t help myself…

-Jim; aka “Stumpy Nubs”
(The greatest woodworking show since the invention of wood is now online!)

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications: http://www.stumpynubs.com/

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2517 days


#8 posted 01-16-2012 05:46 PM

Thanks for all the input guys. Since yesterday, the smaller crack has all but disappeared. The larger crack is still there, but less pronounced. I think I’ll wait another day or two and see what happens. In the meantime, I’m going to use a scrap piece of end grain maple sanded to 220-grit like the board, drop a little CA glue on it and let it cure, then apply mineral oil and see what it looks like. I’ll post those photos too.

I’d experiment with the thinned PVA glue as you mentioned Mike, but I don’t necessarily need the crack to swell shut, I just don’t want it to get any worse than it is. If I’m not satisfied with it:
1. closing on it’s own after sitting
2. experimenting with the CA glue and mineral oil
then I’ll consider the thinned PVA glue as option 3. I don’t want to have to try and get it perfectly scraped, especially out of the branded area, and I obviously can’t really sand it, or it’ll sand away the brand. This will be my last resort option.

I’ll post back on the outcome of this situation.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2517 days


#9 posted 01-16-2012 07:03 PM

Here’s a scrap piece of maple, sanded to 220-grit, with CA glue applied:

Same scrap, but with a couple of coats of oil:

Overall, the CA glue has a bit more of a light amber/yellow cast to it than the oiled maple. However, in a small area, and if you were more careful in applying the CA glue (I just dropped it on and didn’t bother to try and flatten it), I think it would work sufficiently. I don’t believe it would be invisible, but if you were to use a toothpick or something similar to apply and make sure it was flush with the surface, it probably wouldn’t be as noticeable as it is here.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2517 days


#10 posted 01-16-2012 07:07 PM

I forgot to wipe off the oil sitting on the CA glue in the pictures above.

Here’s another shot after I wiped off the oil from the CA glue, as well as giving the oil a little more time to soak in to the maple:

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View Bill Davis's profile

Bill Davis

226 posts in 3390 days


#11 posted 01-16-2012 07:10 PM

Hey you’re a true scientist.

View DarrylJN's profile

DarrylJN

260 posts in 2030 days


#12 posted 01-16-2012 08:14 PM

John,
I would definitely give it a couple of days indoors at a consistent temp to see if it closes up a bit. After that, the finish that you are going to apply might even fill in that small crack. I honestly think you are going to be fine, now the board is 99.9999999% perfect instead of 100% perfect which is still perfect in my eyes! :)

-- Darryl ~ Waxhaw, NC

View Ken90712's profile

Ken90712

16957 posts in 2655 days


#13 posted 01-19-2012 08:44 PM

The wood whisper has a video on how he fixed a cracked endgrain board, although is was a bigger crack. I tned to lean to 2 part 5 min epoxy when filling in cracks or knots.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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Jonathan

2608 posts in 2517 days


#14 posted 01-20-2012 02:02 AM

Thanks guys.

Bill, you are too funny! (I think that was meant to be funny, yes?) I try not to make hasty decisions, as they tend to bite me in the behind. Maybe after several more years of hands-on experience, my knowledge and skills will be at a place where I’m able to make an educated decision in more instances than I’m able to do right now.

Darryl, I think you’re right. I think it’ll be fine. After sitting for a day or two, it all but completely closed-up before I even began oiling it. You can see it a little bit still in the leaf/pattern area, but it doesn’t appear to be anything concerning. Guess I’ll find out, as I opted to not apply any sort of adhesive or stabilizer and just applied mineral oil.

Thanks again for the advice and input everybody!

Ken, I remember watching that video and would have resorted to that method had this crack been anywhere near the size of the crack in his board.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

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TrBlu

379 posts in 2092 days


#15 posted 01-20-2012 02:11 AM

Don’t us CA for two reasons”
1. the finish, which you mentioned
2. CA cures with heat and could make crack worse, before hardening.

I suggest finishing with oil and see if the wood will absorb enough oil to close the crack. Or, maybe it will at least add enough to the wood to prevent further cracking.

-- The more I work with wood the more I recognize only God can make something as beautiful as a tree. I hope my humble attempts at this craft do justice by His masterpiece. -- Tim

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