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Fixing cracked butcher block

Quickstep's picture

Earlier this year, I made a butcher block about 60" long by 40"wide. It's made of 23 pieces of maple 1-3/4" X 1-3/4" X 60" long. As you can tell, the strips run the long dimension. The strips were glued using west epoxy with no fasteners. Right about at the center, a gap is developing between two of the boards. Right now, it's about 1/64th wide and 2 inches long. I'm concerned it will eventually grow and the top will fall in half. This is the centerpiece of a kitchen, so looking good is important. What would you do to repair it?

notDusty's picture

(post #74688, reply #1 of 7)

           Quickstep ,


                           Most likely I would rip it on the TS right in the center of the open glue joint. If the seam is not good enough to re glue , then either with the proper blade rip a bit more off each half or run each seam over the jointer .


                             good luck    dusty

HowardAcheson's picture

(post #74688, reply #2 of 7)

Sounds like you may have a starved glue joint. How tightly did you clamp the boards? Epoxy wants to be clamped very lightly. Unlike other adhesives, epoxy relies on film thickness for its strength. Clamped too tightly and the adhesive is squeezed out of the joint.

I too, recommend you saw down the split and reglue.

Howie.........
Howie.........
JohnWW's picture

(post #74688, reply #3 of 7)

As suggested, ripping and regluing is the only real fix for a problem like this. 


Usually a glue line failure starts from the end grain edge of a top, not somewhere in the middle of the slab, so this problem is fairly unique.  A possible cause for the crack is that the slab is shrinking and the attachment to the frame underneath is restricting the movement, how is the top attached to the base?  The top this size should have lots of room to move, probably an inch or more depending on your climate.


If possible, leave the top alone for several more months to see how it responds to a full year of seasonal expansion and contraction.  This may, unfortunately, be the first sign of a larger problem that may lead to several glue lines failing and doing the single repair now will be a wasted effort.


John W.

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

Quickstep's picture

(post #74688, reply #5 of 7)

The crack does begin at the edge, but halfway across the width. The top is not fastened to the base at all. I just have some locator blocks that help keep it close to centered. There's probably about a half inch of play side to side and lengthwise. Thanks for the help. I was afraid that is what you guys would say. This thing weighs a ton. I'm getting sore just thinking about how I'll get it on to the jointer! 

JohnWW's picture

(post #74688, reply #6 of 7)

A crack starting at one edge makes more sense. 


Is the weather starting to dry out a bit after a humid summer?  If it is, the end grain is losing moisture quickly and the wood the first few inches in from the ends is shrinking much faster than the rest of the top, creating stress that is being relieved by the cracking.  If you dampen a towel and drape it over the end of the table for 24 hours the crack will probably close back up (but it will open again if the end dries out too quickly again).


The solution is to seal the end grain to slow down the moisture loss so the top shrinks evenly.  Seal the end grain with more of whatever the top was finished with.  If the top only has an oil finish, sealing the end grain with a few coats of oil based poly or varnish would work better than just applying more oil.


John W.

John White Shop Manager for FWW Magazine, 1998 to 2007

ring's picture

(post #74688, reply #4 of 7)

Dusty is right - just rip it along the fault and re-glue. But is there something that caused it to open up in the first place? It might be just that one joint that was glue-starved, or perhaps is there something in the base that didn't let the top contract as much as it wanted to?

DR

notDusty's picture

(post #74688, reply #7 of 7)

 Quickstep ,


                        One last thought , if you have not done anything yet , you could cut a shim shaped wedge of the same wood . Glue it in , leave it proud let it dry and sand it flush . If the split keeps moving this will only be temporary . If you rip it and the seam is not good enough to re glue , then instead of running it over the jointer try re ripping each half with a good flat cutting blade that may leave a cleaner seam.


                           good     luck              dusty