Ideas for how I can keep this slab from cracking?

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Forum topic by DLC posted 03-10-2015 05:14 PM 971 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View DLC's profile


44 posts in 1643 days

03-10-2015 05:14 PM

Topic tags/keywords: slab cracking drying

Due to all the ice storms lately, I obtained this Y-shaped section of a neighbor’s downed tree. Due to a characteristic of the tree (I haven’t yet figured out what kind of tree it is) or possibly some onset of disease, it has some really interested dark streaks throughout the heartwood. My plan is to make two 2” slabs from it and use them as a table top for an entranceway table.

About 6 days passed from the time it went down to the time I sawed it in half this past weekend, so it was still a very wet (green) piece of wood. I have already sealed all the ends with melted wax. My question is this: what else should I do to control cracking on the exposed surface as it dries? For instance, should I leave it as it is (two curved halves) or go ahead and cut the outer side of each slab to bring them down to the approximate final thickness of 2 inches? If I do, it will dry faster, but is that going to be a good thing? I figure that the outer sections will shrink more than the inner sides, due to the higher shrinking in the tangential direction, so that’s why I also am considering leaving it as is, so that the bark will control the moisture loss on the outer sides and even out the shrinking. So, any thoughts?

-- Daniel, Durham, NC

5 replies so far

View SirIrb's profile


1239 posts in 1253 days

#1 posted 03-10-2015 05:35 PM

From my experience wood dries ~1” per year. I would place it inside, and as you said wax the ends. I would try to saw it to rough thickness before drying or you will have to wait quite some time before it is ready to work.

Looks a bit like poplar due to the green but I cant be sure. If so that is natural.

-- Don't blame me, I voted for no one.

View Woodknack's profile


11771 posts in 2403 days

#2 posted 03-10-2015 07:35 PM

Looks like a young poplar tree. I’ve dried with and without the bark, had splits both ways. The more pith you remove the better your chances.

-- Rick M,

View jerryminer's profile


927 posts in 1464 days

#3 posted 03-11-2015 06:42 AM

I would remove the pith AND slab it—less differential in shrinkage rates from top-to-bottom

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View bak2bak's profile


2 posts in 1196 days

#4 posted 03-11-2015 07:38 AM

Wax the ends. It will take longer to dry but you can make a sort of kiln with a plywood box and 200 watt light bulbs. I like the checks though. a while ago I made a slab top table with a large split and keyed it. turned out great!

View DocSavage45's profile


8589 posts in 2865 days

#5 posted 03-11-2015 08:02 AM

Cheap latex paint on the ends and putting it in a plastic bag will slow the moisture loss.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

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