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I have a 5' square dining table made of teak. The tabletop appears to be made of glued-together boards 3" - 5" wide. A couple of these boards have come apart, and now I have a gap almost 1/8" running the full length of my table. I'd like some advice on how to fix this, please.

I have seen similar threads on filling cracks with epoxy filler, or similar. This would be fine with me if it's suitable for such a large gap. I am most interested in something that fills the gap, is robust, and looks decent enough (the fix does not have to be perfect aesthetically).

However, the complication here is that it's not just a gap - one of the sides seems to have lifted, such that there is also a raised edge of about 1/8". How would I got about evening this up before applying a filler?

I have basic tools (hand planes, sanders, etc), but not a full wood shop (no surface planer machine, etc). My goal here is a functional fix at least hassle and expense.

I have attached photos and would really appreciate expert advice on how to approach a repair in my case.

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  • This should be easily fixed and to quite and aesthetically pleasing level, without undue work. But you have a bigger problem than the cracks in the table, the underlying cause. That's the main issue. Filling the cracks will solve your current situation but it won't prevent more cracks in the future (and if what I am guessing is the cause there's a very good chance this will happen). If you want to enquire about this add a separate Question, including a number of photos showing more of the table's construction, especially how the top is attached to the framework underneath. [contd] – Graphus Jan 12 at 8:16
  • I recommend you solve the underlying cause first before you even think of tackling the cracks, so that the tabletop is in the best situation to be stable and remain stable before any further stresses are introduced with the table as it currently stands. If you fix now, afterwards the release of these stresses could lead to warping or another crack or two. – Graphus Jan 12 at 8:19
  • Yes. Fix the problem that made it crack in the first place, then fix up the cracks. – Greg Nickoloff Jan 13 at 18:21
  • Thank you all for the advice. Point noted on finding / fixing the root cause. I will take some more photos and open a new question. That said, this was a table purchased from a furniture shop (we "inherited" it, so I am not sure the exact store). As far as I can tell, the fastening allows movement; it is not firmly attached. And I have to assume the wood was seasoned appropriately, but of course I have no way of knowing for sure. – Roberto Jan 14 at 12:08
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Like some of the comments said, the first thing to do is to determine why the cracks opened up in the first place. Broadly, there are two potential causes. Either seasonal movement was not being allowed for or the boards were not given proper time to acclimatize.

What you should do is examine the construction of the base of the table and how it is attached to the top. If there is a rigid connection between the base/apron with the grain of the base perpendicular to the top this will not allow for the top to expand and contract with the seasons. Typically in well-planned construction these connections will be made with grooves, enlarged holes, or "figure 8" connectors to allow movement. If this is not the case this must be corrected or you will have more issues in the future.

If the top is attached to allow movement it may be that the wood was had not properly acclimated before being glued-up into the tabletop panel. If the wood was air dried it may have been worked too soon. This process can take years... If the wood was kiln dried it may be that it was drier than its normal equilibrium and moved as it re-absorbed moisture. It may also just be that your environment is substantially different than where it was worked. I would worry, for example, if I were moving a piece from Florida (high humidity) to Arizona (low humidity).

Once you've figured out the cause you basically have two options to fix it. You can rip the boards apart and re-glue the panel or you can just fill the gaps and re-flatten the top. In your case it sounds like you're leaning towards the second method, so I'd use either a hand plane or belt sander to even out the "ridge", then fill the gap with epoxy dyed to match the wood color, then sand/scrape down the existing finish and refinish. If you're not too sensitive to color mismatches I would just refinish the top surface and not the whole table.

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  • Thanks for the advice. Yes, I am definitely leaning towards the "repair in place". I will have to look for details on how to dye epoxy filler. (Point noted on finding the root cause - I added some details in comment above, and will look to post a new question for this.) – Roberto Jan 14 at 12:09
  • There should be a few questions on here to get you started with epoxy tinting. Some quick suggestions: 1. Use a good professional epoxy like West or Entropy, since the hardware store syringes won't be thin enough. 2. You can use a vacuum to help pull the epoxy into cracks. 3. Since the epoxy won't absorb finish the way wood does aim closer to the finished color than the raw wood color – SaSSafraS1232 Jan 14 at 16:54

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