Wood that is cracked or split loses its value. You can no longer use some parts for your projects, or in the worst cases you can just throw the wood away. Of course, you don’t want to make up for money and lost time, so you want to know how to dry wood without cracking. Fortunately, there are certain tricks you can use to prevent wood from splitting and cracking.
In short, wood will crack due to the loss of moisture in the wood.
To prevent cracking or splitting, you can choose to treat the wood with a paintable wax, use a sealant or a stabilizing solution, or seal it with natural products like linseed oil or salt. Read on to learn step-by-step which method is best for you.
In this article, in addition to the different methods about how to dry wood without cracking, I also go deeper into the question, “why does wood cracks when it dries”. By understanding this, you will be able to ensure that your wood can survive the drying period without splitting and cracking even better. Like that, you can use your precious wood to the maximum for your projects.
Why does wood crack when it dries
Living trees contain large amounts of water. When the wood is dried, the water leaves the cells, causing them to shrink. However, not every place in the wood shrinks evenly. When drying, wood will shrink together with the annual rings about twice as much as it does across the rings. This uneven shrinkage causes cracks.
Drying wood basics
The ends of wood lose moisture more quickly than the sides do. After being cut and processed, the wood will lose moisture, increasing the chance that it will crack and split. That is why it is a good idea to know as much as possible about how to dry wood properly, so you can avoid the wood from cracking.
Various methods can be used for drying wood. Allowing the wood to dry in an over or in the open air can be done either inside or outside. There are many ways to speed up the process, and each one has benefits.
I’ve already written a lengthy essay on the issue that goes into great detail about the several ways to dry wood. Before reading this one, I suggest reading my article, “4 Correct Ways To Dry Lumber Fast | Complete Wood Drying Guide.”
In addition to drying wood with the potential for splitting and cracking, wood can also warp. Because uneven drying of the wood, which results in too much moisture in various areas, causes warping. One side of the wood drying more quickly than the other causes stress and deformation.
In the sentences that follow, I’ll outline a few things you can do to prevent this from happening. It’s crucial to keep in mind that some varieties of wood warp more readily than others. Here, the hardness of the wood can make a big difference.
If you want to learn more about this, read my article “What Is Janka Rating And Is It Still Relevant? Solved“.
Keep your wood properly stored.
If you have wood stacks, space out chunks of wood at regular intervals between them. Make certain that their thickness is constant. Avoid placing large objects on the wood that has been stored there, and make sure the space has enough ventilation to allow for adequate airflow. Warping can be avoided by storing your wood in an area that’s cold, dry, and sanitary.
Avoid letting the wood dry out too rapidly.
It is best to dry the wood properly once it has been cut. The wood should not be dried off too rapidly because it will quickly regain moisture and distort. Given that it takes a few days, weeks, or months for the wood to completely dry, air drying is often the best option. To prevent uneven drying that could cause warping, make sure the ends are sealed with the proper wood sealants.
Check the wood’s moisture content frequently.
You can purchase an electric moisture meter and weigh it continuously to determine how much moisture is there in the wood. Keeping track of such measures will enable you to decide whether the wood is drying as required or using alternative drying techniques.
Clamp the wood.
You can compel the wood to remain in a specific position by using tension bands. The wood won’t be able to move and will stay in place until the other zones have dried out sufficiently, as a result of some zones drying out faster than others. To prevent the boards from warping owing to the tensioning straps’ pressure rather than drying out, be careful not to tighten the tensioning straps too much, as this could have a detrimental effect.
picture warped wood
How to dry wood without cracking
For millennia, wood has been utilized for a variety of tasks, including construction, carving, and as a heat source. If wood is used, it must be completely dry before use. However, the wood needs to be free of cracks if you plan to use it for finer carpentry or carvings.
Many do not know that you can still control those cracks by applying a few simple things. By treating the wood well during drying, many cracks can be prevented. But what’s the secret to how to dry wood without cracking?
By reading the beginning of this article, you already know that as moisture evaporates from the wood, the wood will shrink and there is a chance that it will split or crack. The key to preventing splits, cracks and warping is through sealants and stabilizing solutions that must be applied before drying. In this section, I discuss 3 options for this. One sealant is a commercial product, while there is a DIY version or a possibility of sealing with a natural agent. Read them all and decide which is the best choice for you.
1 – Using Paintable wax
It is very important to note that this method on how to dry wood without cracking is only recommended for greenwoods.
This method can only be used if you only want to keep the sealed wood for a few months. If you want to keep the wood longer, it is best to use one of the other methods described in this article.
What do you need for this?
- Paint thinner
- A container
- Measuring scale
- Paint brush
You may create a DIY wood sealer that is simple to manufacture and apply by mixing melted wax and paint thinner.
Start by weighing the candles on the scale to determine their weight. The candles should then be broken and put in a heated pan or jar. Till the wax is all melted, leave the candles on the stove.
Fill the jar with paint thinner until the volume is equal to the weight of the candles. Mix well after adding the melted wax to the paint thinner. A furnace or fireplace should not be near the paint.
Applying a thin layer of the paint and wax mixture to the required greenwood will finish the process. It is important to evenly coat any exposed wood ends. Permit to dry.
2 – Using a sealant or a stabilizing solution
This way of covering the wood is a more commercial way and also contains chemicals. So make sure that when you apply these products, you do this in a well-ventilated area and that you wear rubber gloves and possibly a mouth mask so that you are as well protected as possible.
What do you need for this?
- A stabilizing solution or a sealant
- A container
- Rubber gloves
Step 1: Select the appropriate container for the wood.
Finding a container that is just a little bit bigger than the wood you wish to treat is crucial. This allows the wood to lay flat during the treatment and ensures that all components are adequately sealed. Your container’s bottom should have the wood in it. Ensure that the wood slabs are put appropriately, with slabs of the same size placed together. To prevent your wood slabs from moving around too much inside the container, think about supporting them using weights.
Step 2: Put the stabilizing solution in the container.
While some wood sealants are designed for wood that hasn’t fully cured, others are suitable for recently cut wood. If the wood is still green, soak it in a wood stabilizer; for partially dried wood, a wood sealer will work best. To avoid splits and cracks in your wood, use a wood sealer or the stabilizing solution. To prevent spillage, only fill your container halfway. I’ll share a few choices of wood sealers below that you may check out on Amazon as an example.
Step 3: Cover the container
After you put the solution into the container, cover it with plastic wrap. This will keep the solution from evaporating and will also ensure that the wood soaks enough of the solution. You are not expected to submerge the entire wood, provided most of the wood is covered you are good to go.
Step 4: Soak the wood for 24 hours
Let your wood pieces soak for 24 hours without disturbance. It is the best way to allow the solution to penetrate into the wood and distribute it evenly. Once that’s done, remove the wood and store it on its side until it dries.
After this, leave the wood for another week to allow the solution to evaporate, until the wood is no longer damp when you touch it.
3 – Sealing with natural products
This is a fantastic substitute method if you don’t want to use chemicals to keep the wood from cracking as it dries. Linseed oil and salt are two natural materials you can use for this.
Using boiled linseed oil on wood is one of the simplest ways to prevent it from splitting and cracking. It is preferable to sand the wood and clean the open ends of the wood where the oil will be applied before applying the oil.
Always sand in the direction of the wood fibers, paying particular attention to their orientation. More advice on sanding wood can be found in my article, How To Sand Wood? 7 Effective Wood Sanding Tips YOU NEED TO KNOW!
It is better to clean the wood after you have sanded the entire surface. To accomplish this, either blow the dust away or clean the wood with a moist cloth and warm water. The linseed oil can then be applied.
After sanding and cleaning the wood, coat the necessary areas with boiling linseed oil, and then let the wood outside to dry. Avoid exposing the wood to direct sunlight as this can harm the linseed oil coating.
You can use a salt paste to dry your wood and stop it from spontaneously splitting and cracking. It is among the simplest methods for drying wood without the use of harsh chemicals.
What do you need for this?
- Paint brushes
Step 1: Mix table salt and water.
Salt must be added to a bucket after fresh water. Stir thoroughly to combine. Depending on the kind of wood you have, decide how much salt and water to use.
Step 2: Leave the solution
You can add cornstarch to the solution to make the paste after letting it settle for around four hours. Add some water if you’ve added too much cornstarch and the mixture is getting too stiff.
Step 3: Eggs
Three egg whites are added, and the mixture is thoroughly blended. To avoid leaving visible flakes on the wood after applying the solution, make sure the egg white is well integrated into the paste.
Step 4: Apply the paste on the wood.
The paste should be applied to the wood with a fresh brush. When putting a layer on top of the surface, make sure the strokes are smooth. Include the sides of the wood in the cover as well. The salt paste will eventually begin to harden and become difficult to remove.
Step 5: Keep the Wood in a Warm Area
Keep the wood in a warm location to dry until it is completely covered. The paste prevents the wood from drying out and shrinking, splitting, or breaking. After a week, check the wood, but keep in mind that thick slices could take longer to dry.
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Woodworking | DIY | Home decoration