Cherry Slab - large split - future coffee table - a couple of questions

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Forum topic by Randy_ATX posted 09-09-2013 05:20 PM 3045 views 0 times favorited 24 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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878 posts in 2441 days

09-09-2013 05:20 PM

I recently acquired a good sized cherry slab. It has some sentimental value as my grandpa had this (with a few other pieces) stored in his barn for at least 40 years. It’s about 3 inches thick by 44 inches at its longest point. It’s got a pretty good sized split in it, but l plan on turning that into a feature.
My questions are 1) should I tape the bottom and side of this split and fill it with a two part epoxy? I’ve used epoxy, but never this much. Would this be a single pour, or multiple? The widest part of the split is a good half inch across. 2) Would a colored epoxy work better with the cherry? I think black might work well. 3) Should I mix something into the epoxy? Turquoise ect.. 4) I assume I should try and get the rest of the bark off before finishing.

I also think this would be a great project to try my first butterfly keys with some walnut.

I know some of these answers are personal preferences; however I am still very much open to what others would like to see if it were their project.

As always, thanks!

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

24 replies so far

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2360 days

#1 posted 09-09-2013 05:28 PM

Don’t fill it; just butterflies. And the butterflies don’t have to be more than 1/2” thick.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View jotrwa's profile


3 posts in 1727 days

#2 posted 09-09-2013 05:47 PM

Yes, I would agree. Butterflies will do. Epoxy in that quantity will always appear tacky and un natural no matter what you add to it.

View pintodeluxe's profile


5659 posts in 2812 days

#3 posted 09-09-2013 06:00 PM

1+ butterflies only. Perhaps in descending size from outside to inside. Three might look nice.

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

View Tim's profile


3807 posts in 1960 days

#4 posted 09-09-2013 06:01 PM

To me it’s butterflies that are too visually distracting and look like they shouldn’t be there. A well done fill with something like turquoise or other semi-precious stone on the show areas can add just the right amount of contrast. And that goes against pretty much everything else I think about doing things the natural way, by hand, etc being more enjoyable and looking better.

So it’s really down to what you’re going for and how much show/contrast you want.

View dbray45's profile


3320 posts in 2775 days

#5 posted 09-09-2013 06:04 PM

There is another way if you don’t want the butterflies or key approach.

Run a table saw – or band saw if the crack is in an arc – through the middle of the split. this brings the split closer together the thickness of the blade every time you make a pass. When you get it where you want, glue the two pieces together. This also relieves the stress.

I have done this for irregular splits with very good results. In your case, you would be removing a lot of material.

-- David in Damascus, MD

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20483 posts in 3104 days

#6 posted 09-09-2013 06:13 PM

I would take two cuts on both sides of that crack, run the halves through the jointer and glue it back together and I don’t think you will see the seam!
Draw some lines on it to see how much you would have to cut out to make two straight lines to come together first.

Or you could fill it with turquoises inlay for contrast. It would take a lot unless you prefilled with some scrap wood to take up space.
............My 2 cents worth…...........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View Woodendeavor's profile


276 posts in 2605 days

#7 posted 09-09-2013 06:31 PM

Use both…Here is my project. I used the butterfly as a dam and filled with epoxy dyed black

View Randy_ATX's profile


878 posts in 2441 days

#8 posted 09-09-2013 07:09 PM

Thanks for the replies so far – Woodendeavor has posted almost exactly what I had envisioned for this project but I also like pintodeluxe’s suggesting of descending size. Clint answered my question before I followed up – the thickness of the key.

Jim and David – I just can’t bear with the thought of cutting this in half and then putting it back together. :)

It’s going to be a couple of weeks before I can get to this project. This also gives me an excuse to build a router sled for flattening this cherry, and also forces me to go buy a new router bit – I think it is called a bowl bit. I recall reading a forum that this type of bit gives a better flat surface for this type of application.

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

View bannerpond1's profile


397 posts in 1897 days

#9 posted 09-09-2013 09:31 PM

Teach yourself to make butterflies on some hardwood and then put bow ties across the split.

DON’T CUT IT TO PUT BACK TOGETHER!! You’ll ruin the piece and you’ll be sorry. I think you’ll be sorry if you fill it with epoxy, but that’s just my opinion.


-- --Dale Page

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2071 days

#10 posted 09-09-2013 09:40 PM

I like butterflies.. It is hard to comment on the “personal” design stuff without knowing what it is going to be used for. I might keep it w/o epoxy in some cases, like a giant clock face, or a table that is getting glass, but fill it in the case of a table w/o glass. I personally don’t like turquoises in the fill. You could “charr” the edges and tell people it got struck by lightning!

-- Who is John Galt?

View Timberwerks's profile


360 posts in 3160 days

#11 posted 09-10-2013 12:37 AM

If the slab is 3” thick you will want to go deeper that just 1/2” with the butterflies. The main butterfly if you use multiple should be 2/3’s the total thickness of the top. Ebony, Wenge or Rosewood would be a nice compliment to the Cherry.


View Randy_ATX's profile


878 posts in 2441 days

#12 posted 09-10-2013 12:50 AM

thanks Dale, Joey & Timber – I’ve always wanted to try butterflies, so I think this piece will get three of them.

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

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2689 days

#13 posted 09-10-2013 01:15 AM

I would use black epoxy to fill the cracks (being careful to pop any bubbles as it cures) and then use bowties of decreasing size across the cracks. I would probably pour the epoxy in several layers since this slab is so thick.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2360 days

#14 posted 09-10-2013 02:03 PM

I don’t know where timberwerks came up with that 2/3 malarkey, but the butterflies are purely decorative, and ain’t there to hold the wood together. A half-inch is plenty.

Here’s a cherry table I made. The big one 1s 12” long.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Randy_ATX's profile


878 posts in 2441 days

#15 posted 09-10-2013 02:18 PM

Man that sure is nice looking, Clint! That is one WIDE-A$$ board too, very nice.

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

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