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why did it split

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  • why did it split

    About a year ago, I was lucky enough to come across some free chestnut, or atleast that is what I was told it was. I built a nice, big desk out of it and put 5 coats of semi gloss poly on it. Wanted it to last a little while. Now, about a year post construction, one of the side panels split from top to bottom. Also, the top split half way across. The splits did not occur on the glue joint, but near the edge of the board. Will keep the desk till it is time to move, but will take apart and try to save as much of the wood as possable.

    The wood came in a house that a friend bought and had torn down. He let me go in and take what I wanted befor demolition started. It was used as paneling in the living and dining rooms. Also, the house was located near the ocean. I had the wood sitting in my garage for about 6 months befor I made the desk.

    Any help on this subject will be apprieciated for I don't want this to happen again, especially if I have to pay for the wood.


  • #2
    Sounds like you were using seasoned wood, so that shouldn't be the issue. And unless you had extreme variations in temperature or humidity between garage and house, that should have been within tolerance. The wood didn't break on the joint, so it doesn't seem to be in the adhesive.
    The two areas that you may want to examine are in joinery and finish.
    Wood laid up in opposing direction must be allowed to move or "float", and requires extra space in joints surrounding a panel, and requires enlarged holes for mounting screws to pass through to allow the wood to move. (You don't say how the parts were assembled, so it is just an idea to consider.)
    You mention 5 coats of finish which will protect the surface from absorbing moisture, but did you seal the back sides, too? Often overlooked, moisture can be absorbed here, leading to warpage or other moisture problems.
    Without seeing the work, this is where I would start troubleshooting.
    If it don\'t fit, force it. If it breaks, \'needed fixin\' anyhow. 8{~


    • #3
      Going on same assumption as above that the wood was seasoned. Question I'll ask is did you coat the inside and outside of the wood with Poly or did you just coat the outside. need to cover top / bottom / ends with some kindof finish / sealer

      If moisture was changing and you just sealed one side of the wood, that could easily lead to movement and cause the split which you mentioned.



      • #4
        Also to add... By he ocean would indicate a lot of moisture content. Storing in a garage will help, but it will not bring down the moisture level to what it is in the house. I think that your problem is a combination of movement because of moisture and the possibility of not allowing for the wood movement.


        • #5
          The moisture content would be the most likely candidate, especially seeing that it split during the dryest time of the year. I agree with the others who said the wood could not contract along the grain so it split. Thats why panels always float or are given loose area for mecanical fasteners (enlarged or oval holes for screws etc.). As long as you learned something I guess it is worth it. I will remember your story the next time I put together a panel for a project. Thanks for posting.