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.
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.
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.