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Using Weather Checked boards

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  • Using Weather Checked boards

    I've just acquired some Cherry boards that had been sitting outside, covered and stickered, for about 5 years. They are all rough sawn, and at first glance look and feel solid.
    After planing about a dozen of them, I noticed that most of them have a small amount of weather checking in them. Not alot, but just a very small amount of cracking that runs the length of the boards, usually only an inch or two long. they don't appear to go all the way through.

    Would anyone have advice as to weather I can use this wood for furniture? Like I said, the boards are solid and heavy. Why would they have this checking?

  • #2
    Vigs, I'm always very careful around boards that have face checking. Maybe you're right and it is just weathering that caused them, but they also can be cause by case-hardening and by reaction wood.

    Either of these can be a very nasty surprise when you're ripping a piece and it clamps down on your splitter. Or, if the splitter isn't installed, breaks a couple ribs on its' way past.

    At the least, please be very careful with them on the tablesaw. There's your biggest danger, in my opinion.



    • #3
      Vigs, Dave's answer is right (as usual), and I would sure be careful when you use the wood in case it has build up all sorts of internal tensions like he describes, that is characteristic of checking over the face of the board.

      But I wondered if you were just using the term checking to describe a crack that runs lengthwise (but not the length of the board) at the end of a board for a few (sometimes 6-8) inches. Those occur when the end grain was not properly sealed before drying. I don't know the proper school answer for that type of wood, but I haven't had any problem (yet) discarding the cracked portion and using the rest, when the wood doesn't have the huge internal stresses that Dave described.


      • #4
        Thanks for the input. I've already ripped some boards with no problems, but I'll watch out for that. Yes, the ends are cracked as they were not sealed, but hey, it's free wood I'm not complaining. The checking does run lengthwise, but usually only for an inch or two, so it's barely noticable. I just figure that when I buy premium wood, it's perfect, and I've always associated fine furniture with that level of quality. Maybe I'll make some garage cabinets or something.