Home>Discussions>PAINTING & FINISHING>Pressure/Stress cracks in finished dining table
5 posts / 0 new
Last post
mercuetio
Pressure/Stress cracks in finished dining table

Hello everyone. My wife and I purchased a beautiful dining room table made of Honduran Pine. Within 5 weeks, a stress crack appeared, running along the wood grain, through the entire 3/4' thickness of the top, and over 2 feet long into the width of the table. We returned it for a new table, and have tried to keep the humidity level in our apartment stable, we oil it every week. yet a 2 inch hairline crack has still developed, also through the entire thickness and along the woodgrain. Our other, cheaper wood furniture in the room does not have this problem. Why is this happening, how can we prevent or stop it, and can it be repaired without sanding or destroying the beautiful finish it has. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

ordjen
Re: Pressure/Stress cracks in finished dining table

Mercuetion,

Unfortunately, solid wide plank construction is not stable. Most solid woods used in furniture uses smaller edge glued boards with the growth rings alternating. This adds stability. It is also why, even in high line furniture, veneer construction is preferable to solid wood for wide tops and panels.

My wife sold high line scandinavian furniture for many years. The scandinavian manufacturers have, for this very reason, used high density veneered press board for years. It is extremely stable.

Domestic woodworkers often use a veneered core wood. This has narrow edge glued strips covered with veneer. This allows normal cutting and milling techniques, yet mostly shows solid wood edges, unlike plywoods.

Can you stabilize your table? You can try to reenforce the table from the under side with a board spanning the crack and screwed on both sides of it. Unfortunately, I think you will continue to have problems.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Pressure/Stress cracks in finished dining table

That is an edge joint that is separating not a board splitting. It is generally a sign of poor joining and unstable wood. With proper joining the wood would split before the joint separated. Splitting is usually caused when the wood shrinks but the top is fastened to the apron to tightly. I would send it back and go to another store.
Jack

mercuetio
Re: Pressure/Stress cracks in finished dining table

I would like to thank everyone who replied to my post. It sounds like the consensus is that it's a climate/atmosphere thing and there isn't much I can do about it. I'm pretty sure these tables are not being stored very long in a warehouse before they make it to us...even the store display has the stress crack. Let me ask: Is this something I will have to worry about every change in season...from humid summer to cold, dry winter, or will the table go through this initially, but be ok over time? I only ask because while I have no problem returning the table, my wife loves it because its function and size is incomparable with anything else we've seen for our space...and we've been looking for months at over a dozen stores.
Thank you all again.

JLMCDANIEL
Re: Pressure/Stress cracks in finished dining table

The proper way to fix it would be to split the top, re-joint it, and make sure it is mounted so the wood can move when it expands and contracts. That would be very difficult, but not impossible, to accomplish without messing up the finish. Of course you would want to make sure the shrinkage has completed.

When edge joining planks, especially greener wood, it is a general practice to to mill the edge of the plank so there is a slight gap in the center of the length before glue up. That is because the outer edge will generally dry out faster than the center. By having the gap in the center and pulling it together with clamps it provides pressure to help keep the ends together as the plank shrinks.
Jack

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.