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Repairing cracks in large door arch

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Forum topic by woundedpig posted 06-09-2014 05:36 PM 1242 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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woundedpig

5 posts in 2647 days


06-09-2014 05:36 PM

I would appreciate your thoughts and insights on a strategy to repair some linear cracks in a large door arch that goes above a quite large front door of a small, but beautiful chapel that our church community is building. The chapel is called a Daughter Shrine, of which there are 200 around the world, the original being in Schoenstatt, Germany. The chapel is only 600 sq ft but has many beautiful symbols and statues inside. The chapel is associated with a 100 year-old Catholic spritual movement known as Schoenstatt (“beautiful place” in German). By tradition, many of the objects inside are made in other countries, where there are more shrines and the craftsmen are familiar with the Shrine.
This arch, that goes over the front door, was donated by a family in Ecuador, shipped here and kept in what I feel was a stable environment for over six months in its original packing. On opening the crate, the linear cracks were found, but the rest of the door was intact.

I’m only a hobbyist, with more experience building fences, barns, pole sheds, and chicken coops than fine furniture, but it looks like the wood used in the arch is mostly flat or plain grained, which can shrink as much as 8 %, right? Plus, the band of wood enclosing the arch may be keeping the wood from expanding/contracting without generating strain. Perhaps the wood had not equilibrated in terms of humidity before construction/shipping.

We have 100 days till the Shrine is dedicated, with visitors from around the world. How would you go about dealing with this damage, and mitigating against the risk of the cracks recurring?

Thanks

David Anglin
Austin, Texas

-- David, Austin, Texas


4 replies so far

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TCCcabinetmaker

930 posts in 1817 days


#1 posted 06-09-2014 05:43 PM

This is what’s known as wood movement. While the environment you kept it in may have been stable, who’s to say it was in ecuador? But the reality is, that in this instance, the wood grew across the grain, and the artisan did not keep his grains running in the same direction as to avoid this problem, and or did not allow for the panel to “move”. This is definately not any easy fix, or one to be made by the unskilled. It has to be carefully taken apart and put back together, no other way I can see it happening with as many cracks in as many places. It may be cheaper at this point to have it replaced. By some local artisan carpenter in austin, as there are quite a few talented ones on this site that know not to cross their wood grains like that…

Secondarily, there are TONS of skilled artisans in texas, and in this country, a lot of whom visit this site and would be offended by the statement that there aren’t alot in this country. The truth is, they require more money as to live in the same country as you do and pay the same types of bills that you have to. I know metalworkers, glassworkers, every form of trade that some I guess would consider non-existant here…

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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woundedpig

5 posts in 2647 days


#2 posted 06-09-2014 06:26 PM

Sorry to have inadvertently offended you- my post was not meant to slight anyone. It is, as I said, a tradition in this worldwide, but still relatively small church community, for the construction of each new daughter shrine (replicas identical to the original) to be marked by international effort, since the community is indeed a family. Some of the objects inside are very ornate and detailed and dimensions must be correct down to the 1/16th of an inch.

As an aside, my son and some friends from high school built the pews and kneelers that go inside, without any grownup supervision and without prior experience. I’m posting a picture of the altar, to illustrate the intricacies of the design. Hopefully, you can see that this is really a group effort.

Thank you for your post. this confirms my thoughts about the origin of the cracks.

David

-- David, Austin, Texas

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TCCcabinetmaker

930 posts in 1817 days


#3 posted 06-09-2014 06:38 PM

Well the grain of the bottom of the panel frame is horizontal, this is typical, I can not tell if the top or arched piece is one piece steam bent to go horizontal or made of a few pieces, but the grain is again horizontal in nature. The grain of the panel itself is vertical, again typical, but the edges appear to be hard fixed allowing for no movement to the “frame”, which is a big no no, as it creates cracks in the wood, as we can see here. The grain of the applique also appears to run horizontal, so you’ve got 3 axis of wood movent, which, you can see the effects of in the applique where it has broken. and the stain lines underneath. Basically you want the grain to run in one direction whenever possible. I do not know the widths of the applique or the arch, and there may have been no other way to have done it, but honestly your piece has absorbed alot of humidity and grown. More than a 1/16th.

P.S I once worked in a shop where my margin of error was allowable to 7/1,000s of an inch. Which would also just so happen to be the margin of error for the machinery, so a 1/16th is no biggie ;)

-- The mark of a good carpenter is not how few mistakes he makes, but rather how well he fixes them.

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joeyinsouthaustin

1294 posts in 1534 days


#4 posted 06-10-2014 12:14 AM

We have had some extreme humidity with temp levels in Austin lately. It was ‘bound’ to happen. We deal with a lot of South American woods right now. They are over drying in the kiln, and then shipping to what is described as the southwest. That piece was prolly perfect for new mexico, but not Austin. PM me and I would be happy to help rebuild the shield. If I am too busy, I can put you in direct touch with craftsmen on the east side that would be happy to do it. If you haven’t gathered, my shop is in South Austin.

-- Who is John Galt?

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