how to keep your wood project from splitting?

I have a relief carving project I am working on the wood is cedar and it is 4" thick. It had a seam on the back that didn't show any signs of cracking on each end but after working on it the seam started to show cracking more on the one side then the other and it keeps on cracking. How can I fix it, I have put alot of work into it and it is almost done?

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Toga_Dan5 days ago

woodturners sometimes use super glue.

although it is a little late for you, the choice of where a piece of Timber is cut from the tree makes a big difference 4 cracking or splitting or warping.

sealing the end-grain can slow down the rate at which the wood dries. this can prevent cracking.

seandogue16 days ago

Cleats, (think staples), can also be used for thicker pieces. A cleat is effectively a u-shaped nail.

Although as Kelsey suggests, a butterfly is often used. It really depends on how much holding force is needed, and how solid the piece is to start, and whether you're working with or against the grain. I've seen cleats used for table tops made with slabs of tree trunk for instance, to keep them from splitting.

One thing I do for my much smaller pieces is to coat the end grain with wax or oil to prevent or slow moisture release as they cure. I also make sure to oil the sides to prevent them from releasing moisture too quickly

kelseymh17 days ago

Downunder35m's solution is great. In addition, you may consider a adding a butterfly joint. Since the crack is on the back of your piece, the joint won't show.

You can use a plunge router, end mill, or a wood chisel to make the recess, then glue the butterfly in while you still have the clamp in place holding the crack closed.

seamster18 days ago

Got any photos? I'd be curious to see this.

If it's not too intrusive to the design, epoxy (plain or even with added color dye) could be used to fill the cracks. There are some pertinent projects here that might give you ideas:

https://www.instructables.com/howto/fill+wood+cracks+epoxy/

Try and old trick of mine:
Using properly insulated gloves or tools place your project over boiling water or if small enough submerge in hot water.
This will soften the wood and makes it playble to some extend.
Use something like clamps or a vice to see if you can push the crack to a fully closed stage.
If so fill the crack with good wood glue, the white stuff that is PVA.
Use a toothpick or similar to really drive the glue into the deepest areas of the crack.
Using the clamps or vice press it back into shape until the crack is fully closed, wipe off all excess with a damp cloth.
Leave to dry in a warm and ventilated area, depending on the thickness for two weeks longer.
Once the wood is fully dried it should hold the shape it is in and the glue should prevent any further splitting.

g-one18 days ago

Once it began to crack there isn't much you can do against it because of the wedging effect. I'd try to screw metal strips to the end-grain sites. Don't forget to pre-drill.

Next time ask your local carpenter for fully seasoned wood. Depending on the wood it may even take up to 5 years drying before it is ready to carve or lathe it.