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My oak table shows a split at the side of it. Is there a way I can address it?

What would you do?

I have plans of refinishing my oak table with a darker wood stain.

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  • What type of stain/colouring product were you planning to use here? The type of stain (or "stain") that you intend to use has a direct bearing on what to do next after the crack is rectified.
    – Graphus
    Jan 17 at 16:53

2 Answers 2

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There are several things that can be done, and it depends on how much effort you want to put into it (and what tools you have).

The 'best' way of actually 'fixing' the problem is to run it on a table saw at the crack, then rejoin and reglue them back together. This is a bit extreme, but it will work, take care of the problem and if you can do a good job will look great.

However, it is pretty extreme and you need a few woodworking tools to make it happen (and some experience to do it well). So the next thing that can be tried is to squeeze some wood glue into the crack and use some pipe clamps to close it up tight while it dries. Though I would test out the clamping to make sure you are able to actually close the gap before you put any glue in it.

You can also put a 'tie' on it, after it is closed you can screw a small piece of wood across the gap to help hold it closed.

Last and simplest, is to use a wood filler, could be a "crayon" or putty or even some epoxy with dye in it.

But 'best' is going to be dependent on results you are looking for, equipment available, and effort you want to put into it.

Edited additional ideas from comments:

waiting to sand the finish off until after the gluing will help in wiping off the excess glue.

And there is always the bow tie method of fixing it but I think it's a bit more difficult than any of the above (to get it looking good) and it is an 'obvious' fix unless you manage to just put it on the underside.

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    If the table has some sort of sealer finish (varnish, urethane, etc.), it would be wise to leave that while gluing the crack. It will make it easier to wipe up squeeze out while the glue is still wet and/or scrape the excess off after it's dried. It will also help prevent the excess glue from getting into unprotected wood which will effect the later efforts at staining.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 17 at 15:34
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    Also, a bow tie would work, too, but that would take more tooling to route out the recess and cut the tie insert.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 17 at 15:45
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    @FreeMan right, I had thought about that, but didn't seem appropriate, since it takes a lot more skill and then it would be an obvious 'patch' the others would hide the issue. soo...
    – bowlturner
    Jan 17 at 15:47
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    @syltruong Pipe clamps. I have some 6ft long, the actual clamping space is a few inches short of that, or about 1.8 meters, the pipe can be cut to any length you want. But the filler is a much easier route.
    – bowlturner
    Jan 17 at 16:26
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    @syltruong if you want to fill because you have no 1m clamps you can extend shorter clamps with easy tricks. I would not use filler on visible part of tabletop because you will always see it. Much better to glue crack.
    – Volfram K
    Jan 18 at 6:44
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A basic crack in wood is very easy to fix as long as the crack surfaces are clean, you can thoroughly coat the surfaces with glue (various tricks can help with that), and then can clamp nice and tightly so that the crack closes completely. If that's all possible usually everything will go well1.

However, step #1 here should be to diagnose why the crack occurred and addressing that first, before any re-glueing attempt.

Given the construction of the tabletop, from many short lengths2, a crack like this should not have happened because when well made panels like this should be both stronger and more stable than a few wider boards glued together along their edges.

The fact that a crack occurred at all may indicate a fault in the way the table's structure is designed, which regrettably is not at all unusual in modern furniture. This needs to be addressed first because if you don't another crack elsewhere is entirely possible, for exactly the same reason — stress built up enough due to wood movement until something had to give, and this often results in the top warping or cracking to relieve the tension.

So it's important to see if the above is a possible/likely cause.

Unfortunately, if the table is put together well then it probably indicates the crack is a drying crack. If so there's always the chance another one could occur at some point in the future and you can do little or nothing to avoid it other than to apply a much more comprehensive (read: thicker) finish.


1 Well-glued cracks can end up stronger than the wood was before as amazing as that sounds, because glue joints are stronger than wood is along the grain.

2 A type of "stave construction" now most commonly (but incorrectly) called butcher block.

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    Looking for and addressing the reason for the crack is excellent advice! (Which is usually what you get from Graphus.) There are already questions here about how to figure out what caused the issue in the first place.
    – FreeMan
    Jan 17 at 19:30

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