Preventing wood Splits/checks

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Forum topic by soakjr posted 11-26-2014 02:46 PM 683 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 816 days

11-26-2014 02:46 PM

Topic tags/keywords: hackberry

I have some nice hackberry logs for firewood and some of them looked to nice to burn. So I decided to split some nice pieces off and attempt to make a couple wooden mallet heads out of them. It has been about a year since the logs where cut (18” sections) so I thought they’d be fairly dry, however after making one mallet head; overnight the end grain checked badly and began to develop splits.

Is this a lost cause or can this be prevented? Currently I have made couple more blocks and painted the end grain to see if this will help. Thoughts?

5 replies so far

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Rick M.

7681 posts in 1798 days

#1 posted 11-26-2014 06:15 PM

Did you remove the pith?


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14 posts in 816 days

#2 posted 11-26-2014 06:33 PM

Yes, I don’t believe it is contained in any of them.

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Rick M.

7681 posts in 1798 days

#3 posted 11-26-2014 10:32 PM

What you might try is cutting it to rough width and thickness, leaving the ends long, sticker and let dry for awhile. I dried some hackberry last year and didn’t have any unusual problems, just normal end checking. I painted the ends but can’t remember if I left the bark on, sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. The bark will slow drying.

One other thought – did you apply finish before they checked? If they were still wet and then finished, the finish will prevent or slow moisture leaving the sides. What you don’t want is the end grain drying out as that will cause bad checking.

Also, even if you remove the pith but keep too much of the wood around the pith, that can cause splitting along the sides. I had that happen to some holly I am drying.


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4527 posts in 1930 days

#4 posted 11-27-2014 12:26 AM

Hackberry is notorious for coming apart and is not forgiving on a lathe, I use a lot of hackberry on my boxes.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

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1562 posts in 1894 days

#5 posted 11-27-2014 01:53 AM

Your hackberry was not dry. Thick chunks take forever to dry for use inside a heated and cooled space.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

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