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Red Cedar Table top split, how should I repair?

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Forum topic by BenoitM posted 12-17-2014 12:09 AM 2356 views 0 times favorited 17 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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BenoitM

66 posts in 1031 days


12-17-2014 12:09 AM

I finished this red cedar patio table at the end of the summer:

Winter is coming in Montreal and I move the table in the garage (big mistake?), now my table top has two huge splits on the same board.

It goes all the way through, I can see the other side.

How can I repair this? Glue and clamps (i would need big clamps)? Woodfiller? Resin?
Should I wait till next summer in case the wood move/shrink/whatever it did, again?

Thanks for your help.

-- Benoit, Montreal Quebec, http://cavacouper.blogspot.ca/


17 replies so far

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sawdustjunkie

343 posts in 1184 days


#1 posted 12-17-2014 12:39 AM

I am not an expert, but that looks more like a glue line than actual split wood!
The line os too straight for a crack.

-- Steve: Franklin, WI

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BenoitM

66 posts in 1031 days


#2 posted 12-17-2014 12:41 AM

It’s not a glue line. I would have known, I built it.
It’s just a really straight split :-)

-- Benoit, Montreal Quebec, http://cavacouper.blogspot.ca/

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firefighterontheside

13522 posts in 1324 days


#3 posted 12-17-2014 12:57 AM

I hate to tell you this but it split because the wood is shrinking. I built my oak dining table with a center area of glue up and a mitered frame around the outside. It split worse than that because I didn’t allow for wood movement. I would fill it with some sort of flexible caulk and then perhaps refinish over it.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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mahdee

3555 posts in 1235 days


#4 posted 12-17-2014 01:04 AM

I assume poor glue job. Technically, the glue bonds better than wood fiber and the crack should have happened where there were no glue. Few things to consider, the table legs did not expand with the table top. Meaning end grains of the table legs do not expand as much as the long grains of the top and thus creating some sort of divergence. But, if you can see through the crack, unless the legs have cracked, that should not be the issue.
I would cut a thin piece that would either go through the whole thing or one through the top and one through the bottom. Glue it/them in, Sand and fill any void with epoxy. In the long run, this will pose a problem due to exposure to various seasonal changes. A more permanent solution may be to cut the table along that crack and allow for a 3/16” (3 or two millimeter) gap to allow the table do its thing based on weather conditions.

-- earthartandfoods.com

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jdh122

879 posts in 2285 days


#5 posted 12-17-2014 01:18 AM

It almost certainly has to do with construction techniques. The piece you put on the ends stops the top from expanding and contracting across its width (unless you pinned it like breadboard ends and only glued in the middle, which seems unlikely with a piece that narrow). Also, how did you attach the top? Depending on how you did that, it may increase the effect as well. If that’s the issue any fix you do is only going to be temporary until you remove the frame on the end and possibly deal with how it’s attached to the legs.
Amazing how straight cedar can split…

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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JerryLH

104 posts in 778 days


#6 posted 12-17-2014 01:37 AM



It almost certainly has to do with construction techniques. The piece you put on the ends stops the top from expanding and contracting across its width (unless you pinned it like breadboard ends and only glued in the middle, which seems unlikely with a piece that narrow). Also, how did you attach the top? Depending on how you did that, it may increase the effect as well. If that s the issue any fix you do is only going to be temporary until you remove the frame on the end and possibly deal with how it s attached to the legs.
Amazing how straight cedar can split…

I’d like to ask a beginner question.
,,, piece you put on the ends stops the top from expanding and contracting ,,,,,
If the expansion and contraction has been – ‘stopped’ – and a spit develops, the wood must have contracted (there is now a void where there was wood) – then contraction wasn’t actually stopped – but if the end piece was glued along the entire length and glue is stronger than wood how did a void (split) develop? I’m confused – (a fairly normal state for me).

-- Develop your character -- for it becomes your destiny. Jerry - Mannford, Ok

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sawdustjunkie

343 posts in 1184 days


#7 posted 12-17-2014 01:52 AM

You could try using epoxy. Just tape the bottom and let the epoxy run into the cracks. Take a heat gun to make the epoxy run and once it’s to the top leave it alone till it cures.
I build R/C aircraft and use a epoxy that can be sanded. It is used for coating balsa sheets to form a skin over the wood.
The cracks are so straight I thought it was two pieces of wood.

-- Steve: Franklin, WI

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sras

4392 posts in 2596 days


#8 posted 12-17-2014 02:14 AM

The first thing to do is to allow the wood to move. Most likely at the base and the end caps. Then you can glue the gap shut.

The is a good article referenced here . Take a look at the link

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

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firefighterontheside

13522 posts in 1324 days


#9 posted 12-17-2014 02:23 AM

You cannot stop the contracting. Impossible. What he meant was that you stopped it from contracting without splitting. Something had to give so it cracked. Again, I made the same move. Live and learn.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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JerryLH

104 posts in 778 days


#10 posted 12-17-2014 02:45 AM



You cannot stop the contracting. Impossible. What he meant was that you stopped it from contracting without splitting. Something had to give so it cracked. Again, I made the same move. Live and learn.

- firefighterontheside


Thanks for the reply. I asked the question completely out of not knowing how to deal with wood movement – not to argue anyone’s point. Thanks again.

-- Develop your character -- for it becomes your destiny. Jerry - Mannford, Ok

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firefighterontheside

13522 posts in 1324 days


#11 posted 12-17-2014 02:56 AM

With tabletops, you have to deal with wood movement by having joints that can move a bit. The top needs to be attached to the rest of the table with clips or screws in oversized holes so there is room for movement. As you and I both learned, don’t make a border that is mitered around the panel unless the panel is plywood. You can make what they call breadboard ends that are attached to the end in such a way that let’s the panel shrink and swell without cracking. Wood movement is most noticeable in wide pieces such as large table top glue ups.

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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firefighterontheside

13522 posts in 1324 days


#12 posted 12-17-2014 02:58 AM

We are all here to learn and share. I’ve been woodworking for a long time, but I’ve learned a lot in my first year on here. Your table and benches look great by the way….

-- Bill M. "People change, walnut doesn't" by Gene.

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runswithscissors

2192 posts in 1492 days


#13 posted 12-17-2014 05:17 AM

A way to deal with that and allow wood movement is to fill the crack with a soft, non-hardening putty like beeswax. You can add more if the crack continues to open up, or if the gap closes and squeezes the wax out, just scrape it off.

-- I admit to being an adrenaline junky; fortunately, I'm very easily frightened

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timbertailor

1592 posts in 891 days


#14 posted 12-17-2014 11:57 AM

Cut the ends off and add a bread board design that allows movement.

If the crack is clean, just reglue. If not, cut out a small section and then reglue with biscuits.

-- Brad, Texas, https://www.youtube.com/user/tonkatoytruck/feed

View BenoitM's profile

BenoitM

66 posts in 1031 days


#15 posted 12-18-2014 04:19 PM

Thanks all for your advices, really helpful. I realize my table design is causing this, next time I’ll know :-)
I think I’ll give this a try: http://www.leevalley.com/en/wood/page.aspx?c=&p=20069&cat=1,190,42997
as i don’t really want to cut it, and I don’t have the time now.

Thanks again.

-- Benoit, Montreal Quebec, http://cavacouper.blogspot.ca/

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