A friend of mine owns a very old dining room table. It belonged to her parents and is an heirloom that she’s very proud of. Unfortunately, some of the table leaves have developed cracks over time. They’re not huge cracks but are still unsightly. I wanted to help her save the table.
What NOT to Do
Sometimes when woodworkers run into splits like this they want to simply push glue into the crack, get clamps on it, and squeeze the crack closed. The good news: you’d probably be able to get the split to close. The bad news: that’s not a long term fix. In all likelihood, the crack will simply open up again over time. There’s internal tension that causes the crack, and you’re fighting that tension trying to squeeze it closed.
What You SHOULD Do
The best way to take care of this is to cut right through the crack, typically a ripping cut, joint the sawn edges, and glue the pieces back together. For the table leaf I fixed I used a bandsaw instead of a table saw for the rip cut. This keeps the kerf and lost wood as small as possible. Because the table was already finished, I used biscuits to keep the finished faces in alignment as I glued them back together. Biscuits aren’t necessary for strength, only for alignment.
The result was a nearly invisible repair. The heirloom table is back in business and ready for many more years of service. It’s tips like these that can help keep your woodworking going smoothly. WWGOA works hard to keep the tips flowing. Be sure to have a look at all of our great woodworking tips.
I saw that the other end of the leaf had a crack in it, too. It didn’t line up with the one you expertly fixed. I suppose that the crack has to be fairly parallel to the edges in order to do this. How often does that happen?
Here’s what the experts had to say about your question:
If the crack isn’t parallel, then you will have to cut out a section of the panel to use this technique. Then you simply have to make two cuts. Its far more common that the crack runs parallel with the grain as shown here.
Please let us know if you have any further questions
Wood Workers Guild of America Video Membership
Noted you ripped board freehand without fence. Do you feel the boards usually stay square after jointing due to such thin kerf?
If you look closely at the video, you can see that the fence is used for the cut. The boards generally stay square after jointing, but the thin kerf doesn’t have any bearing on that. The jointer produces an edge that is square to the board’s face, regardless of kerf size.
Woodworkers Guild of America
I really like the final look!
A lot of table leaves have an edge board, 2 or 3 inches deep on the back of the leaf. I presume you just cut right thru them also?
If it can be removed, that would be ideal. If not, you’ll have to make a judgment call as to whether you want the additional seam in the edge board. It won’t likely glue up as cleanly as the main cut.
Woodworkers Guild of America