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Thread: Thin Long Checks in Rough Lumber (FS White Oak)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2020
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    Thin Long Checks in Rough Lumber (FS White Oak)

    Hi,

    I'm looking at milling up some legs for a coffee / dinning table set. The rough 8/4 flat sawn white oak I have has thin long ~18 inch checks on either end of the board. How concerned should I be about these. Should I cut them off completely on one end, and then measure out my stock from there? Or, should I leave them in and then once I've milled them down and tapered them, look into trying to fill any remaining checks with epoxy?

    I've attached a picture of one end of the board, let me know what you guys think.

    Screen Shot 2021-04-11 at 11.49.17 PM.jpg

    Thanks!
    John

  2. #2
    What I do is cut an inch off and see if the piece falls apart . If it does ,and if there is enough wood , I cut more. But some are more frugal .
    I once worked for a guy who would allow some checks in the bottom of a turning...,so that he could save more solid wood on other end to
    turn candle sticks. One of those guys who had a tough time during the depression ....and wanted to make sure he never forgot every
    hardship. Great way to make others “feel his pain”

  3. #3
    I'm with Mel, start cutting it off an inch at a time and you will get a better idea of what you are dealing with. If the checks go competely through the thickness of the piece I'm not sure the epoxy idea works so great.

  4. #4
    Join Date
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    Do you have a moisture meter? It looks like that board was dried (or is in the process of drying) incorrectly. It looks like it's got quite a bit of cupping going on. It could be just the way it was cut or the other side dried much faster than the side shown in your picture. You could find that after milling it flat it wants to move again.

  5. #5
    Join Date
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    I wouldn't knowingly include a check in a piece of furniture I was building. Seems like just asking for trouble. Like others, I cut several inches past the last point where it is visible or that a short cutoff easily breaks. Checks that long would make me very leery about how carefully dried it was or that the boards may have reaction wood from a leaning tree.

  6. #6
    Join Date
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    You could cut off the checked ends, several inches past where the checks visibly end.

    Later, rive these pieces where the checks are and then joint them and either glue them back together or use them as individual parts to make something else.

  7. #7
    thats junk at the end, i call those shakes. Cut back past, do the 1" strip above, I used to drop my short cut off or throw them down on the floor, Mel has said he bangs over something. Looks like your board is on the ground, if so now you will chip your knives.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    It's your call if you want to use cracked lumber in a piece of furniture. I build my furniture to last for generations. Since you are in the building stage and not trying to repair the piece, just cut out the crack and laminate the lumber back together would be my approach.

  9. #9
    Join Date
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    Toronto Ontario
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    That's called Artisanal Firewood.

    As others have said, cut it and see how far they extend into the wood..........Rod.

  10. #10
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    Sometimes ya got to punt...this may be one of those times.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  11. #11
    Join Date
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    Those appear to be surface checks, which are not totally uncommon in thick white oak due to the difficulty in drying it proper. They occur when the wood is either dried too quickly, or if the surface becomes rewetted multiple times during the drying process.

    I would not rule out using the lumber yet, but would do some simple tests.

    First, follow Mel's advice and end trim 1" or so. If the piece comes off solid, then the checks are not going all of the way though. If it comes off in multiple pieces, trim off another inch. Look closely at where the pieces were cracked apart.

    Second, I would do a skip face joint / plane on the boards and see if the checks plane off. Many times surface checks in thick white oak are only 1/8" or so deep.

  12. #12
    I tend to agree with Scott. I'd start by planing it and see if they checks remain or trim some off the end to see if they go all the way through.

    If the splits go too deep or all the way through I'd cut off the bad ends assuming that would leave enough wood for your project.

    If you want to use epoxy then go for it. It might save an otherwise unusable piece.

    I have a sawmill and a plethora of wood so I'd probably pick another piece but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

    I'm going through a stack of white oak with some questionable boards with similar cracks. Usually they only show up on one face so I've been using them as trim boards with the split face to the wall.

    Alan

  13. #13
    cut an inch or two off that end and see what you see. even so it means little as it can be clear a bit in only to find more further in, no often but some surprise you that way.

  14. #14
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    Jan 2020
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    Thanks for the input everyone.

    I'll do some investigating once I can get back into the shop, and see what can be salvaged.

    Best,
    John

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