Drying logs without cracking

  • Advertise with us

« back to Wood & Lumber forum

Forum topic by Tooch posted 12-03-2014 03:21 AM 1296 views 1 time favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Tooch's profile


1297 posts in 1293 days

12-03-2014 03:21 AM

Topic tags/keywords: logs chainsaws rustic centerpieces question advice drying lumber drying

A friend of mine asked me to help make 40 center pieces for a wedding, which would simply be slices of logs (roughly 2” thick) cut with a chain saw. (see the “inspiration” pic below)

We have the logs, we have the saws, and we have a decent amount of time to get them done. What I need, however, is some information on how we can prevent these pieces from cracking and splitting as they dry…

Is it better to sand and poly while the wood is still green? or should we paint the wood to prevent it from cracking? Is there some sort of conditioner we can put on it? Is there a certain species that is less likely to split than others? what is the best way to keep the bark on the outer ring?

most of the pieces I’ve ever cut like this have cracked and/or split on me, and with an order this large I could use some advice!

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

9 replies so far

View Tooch's profile


1297 posts in 1293 days

#1 posted 12-03-2014 03:24 AM

oh, and they also would like a few of these for the cookie table…

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View hoss12992's profile


3809 posts in 1310 days

#2 posted 12-03-2014 05:59 AM

What I have done in the past, according to how much time you have and how big a log you want to use, is store in one of my metal barns. If I dont have as much time, then I bring the log inside while we have the wood stove going, but I put the log in another room, and it will also dry down pretty fast. I had made some of these center pieces a few years ago, but didnt have much time until they wanted it. I cut the pine tree in the winter, while the sap was down. Stored it in a barn for abut a month, then cut the slabs off that I needed, sanded and a couple coats all sides of tung oil followed by a few coats of poly, and worked like a charm. Hope this helps.

-- The Old Rednek Workshop

View Tooch's profile


1297 posts in 1293 days

#3 posted 12-03-2014 10:38 AM

Thanks Hoss, do you think Hardwoods or Softwoods would be best for this type of thing?

-- "Well, the world needs ditch-diggers too..." - Judge Smails

View WDHLT15's profile


1562 posts in 1893 days

#4 posted 12-03-2014 12:48 PM

They will almost all crack. The center 10 rings or so are juvenile wood that shrinks more than the wood in the outer ring. This sets up stress, and the crack relieves the stress. It take a while for them to crack, though, so it is better to cut them right before the wedding a couple of days so that the surface can dry, but the stress that creates the cracks has not developed. The fact that they are not fully dry as they will be used for the wedding won’t really matter (Who will know?), and after the wedding, no one will care if they will crack.

Some species are poor choices, that is, they are almost guaranteed to crack. Oaks are not good. Cherry is not good. Hickory and pecan are poor choices. The better choices are the species with spiral or interlocked grain. The spiral grain helps to hold them together against cracking. Sweetgum, elm, and balckgum are good. Walnut is not spiral grain, but behaves better than most species.

Softwoods dry faster than hardwoods and are also prone to cracks.

The bark will stay on better if the tree was felled in the dormant season. The worst time for retaining the bark is the Spring when the cambium is most active.

Here is a sweetgum cookie. Sweetgum can be very nicely figured, but it might not be available in your area.

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

View Blackie_'s profile


4527 posts in 1930 days

#5 posted 12-03-2014 02:57 PM

I wonder if soaking them in epoxy would solve that issue?

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

View Snipes's profile


86 posts in 1662 days

#6 posted 12-03-2014 03:34 PM

that’s a fine cookie!! Hole in the center will also help.

-- if it is to be it is up to me

View Wildwood's profile


1848 posts in 1552 days

#7 posted 12-03-2014 04:10 PM

I would be tempted to just buy a gallon(s) of polyurethane and make myself a dipping station and hanging station. That way every part of the slab slice is covered uniformly. If set up correctly no more mess than brushing or spraying.

There are products like CedarCide, Pentacryl, and PEG you can brush on or soak wood in. The learning curve pretty steep, soaking probable will give you the best results but takes the most time.

Would not recommend CeadarCide product because of expense and info available. Check the their web site for more info.

Pentacryl expensive but readily available so provided info/instructions


PEG is definitely a soaking proposition, and will tell you only finish can use after soaking process is Polyurethane.

-- Bill

View BCDesign's profile


514 posts in 840 days

#8 posted 12-03-2014 09:55 PM

Nice lookng pieces!love the lettering!

-- "The secret of getting ahead is getting started" Mark Twain

View Neptuno's profile


32 posts in 735 days

#9 posted 12-04-2014 08:22 PM

You can soak then in diluted epoxy, but you will need some way of applying vacuum.


-- We must all cross the line.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics