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Cherry mantel crack repair

swamp dweller

Cast Iron
Joined
Jun 10, 2010
Location
Central Florida USA
My wife and I are building a fishing camp on the St Lawrence river in upstate New York and we are doing it on a what ever we can save every year to put into it ,we do, then wait til next year and do some more. I don't want a mortgage when it's done. Any way, My wife saw this mantel on line and bought it for me for Fathers day last year. It's been, CNC routered ,(I assume) with a fish motif on the front.The problem is when it arrived last Fathers Day it had some little cracks on the ends making it look quite rustic and I thought very cool. Since we aren't to the fireplace building part of construction yet I put it back in the box and left it in the spare bedroom for the last almost year. I had some friends over and wanted to show them and when I opened the box the little rustic cracks last year have become major splits that are threatening to split the thing in halve. Of course they run right thru the center of the motif. The one end has an opening of about 1/2 in. The picture with the long screw in it I was going to try to run that thru from the top and try to pull it back together but thought I should get a second opinion. I'm a toolmaker,not a wood worker.
Is there any way to salvage this log? It's supposed to be cherry.
Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated.mantel 2.jpgmantel 1.jpgmantel 2.jpgmantel 4.jpg
 
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henrya

Stainless
Joined
Jun 25, 2008
Location
TN
I would probably leave it alone. Now that its dried to equilibrium with its surroundings it will likely stop moving. You could fill the cracks with a mixture of epoxy and sawdust and then re-carve the details. To get a good color match mix up some epoxy and sawdust and let cure in the cup to check the color. If its close go for it. If not, try different sawdust. I doubt that screwing it back together will be a good long term solution. Changes in humidity will cause more wood movement that can’t be stopped. The nearer you come to the piece being unstressed at rest probably the better.
 
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thermite

Diamond
My wife and I are building a fishing camp on the St Lawrence river in upstate New York and we are doing it on a what ever we can save every year to put into it ,we do, then wait til next year and do some more. I don't want a mortgage when it's done. Any way, My wife saw this mantel on line and bought it for me for Fathers day last year. It's been, CNC routered ,(I assume) with a fish motif on the front.The problem is when it arrived last Fathers Day it had some little cracks on the ends making it look quite rustic and I thought very cool. Since we aren't to the fireplace building part of construction yet I put it back in the box and left it in the spare bedroom for the last almost year. I had some friends over and wanted to show them and when I opened the box the little rustic cracks last year have become major splits that are threatening to split the thing in halve. Of course they run right thru the center of the motif. The one end has an opening of about 1/2 in. The picture with the long screw in it I was going to try to run that thru from the top and try to pull it back together but thought I should get a second opinion. I'm a toolmaker,not a wood worker.
Is there any way to salvage this log? It's supposed to be cherry.
Any suggestion will be greatly appreciated.View attachment 349554View attachment 349555View attachment 349554View attachment 349556

It isn't 'structural", just "cosmetic", and may move again once in your new location.

I'd dye up a pot of WAX, rather than epoxy. Melt, pour, cool. Shapes easily enough.
Wax fill will 'give' if moves, later-on.

Common fix, BTW:

Fil-Stik Putty Sticks

But you need LOTS of it .... and the 'rustic' look is best if the colour-match is NOT perfect.

So JF "DIY" it. At least it will keep dirt, moisture, and vermin from making a home in the 'canyons'.

:D
 

Scottl

Diamond
Joined
Nov 3, 2013
Location
Eastern Massachusetts, USA
Definitely don't use screws to try and pull it together.

The suggestion by thermite to use wax may be the best long term solution but if you really can't live with the cracks it MIGHT be possible to glue and clamp it. As a first step try using large clamps with boards to spread the load and see if you can close the gaps. If so it could be glued but other cracks might open.

The basic problem is that being carved from a log the wood was not fully seasoned and it kept drying after you got it. Had you sealed the ends with wax after seeing those small cracks this might not have happened but as they say, hindsight is better than foresight.
 

Scruffy887

Titanium
Joined
Dec 17, 2012
Location
Se Ma USA
Just about impossible to dry a log without radial cracks happening. Just the way wood shrinks, much more tangentially than radially. Sealing the ends can slow it down but not stop it, and I doubt it has stopped shrinking. You could put some deep long saw cuts on the back to help it crack there first. This would allow you to close up the front a bit. May even stop the front from opening more.
 

bhigdog

Stainless
Joined
Jul 20, 2005
Location
Eastern PA
Filling it will look like you filled it. Kind of like a women with a really bad face lift. Pulling the crack almost together is likely possible. I would use a nut and bolt not a wood screw. All that said I kind of like it just the way it is. Wood will be wood. ..........Bob
 
That's a nice looking mantel.
The wax idea, so long as a type that won't melt and run from the warmth of the fire below, is a good one.

As others mention, bolting/screwing is likely to be a losing proposition, by itself. often it will simply cause the wood to crack elsewhere.

traditional repains include driving in feathers (wedges of wood of the same type, wedge shaped in profile) with hot hide glue. HHG because it is non-staining compared to white glue, reversible, and better sticking. Then profile the feathers to match the local surface features and touch up with shellac.

This will work long term, if the wood never gets too damp again. (Humid summer vs dry winter air)
If the humidity changes significantly over a long period, it may then crack elsewhere, though the compression would tend to force splits on the backside. Relieving the back as has been mentioned can help. Cuts need to be deep enough at the center of the log, to go through the center of the pith, generally, to be effective.

smt
 








 
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