Shop Tips & Tricks #9: Preventing End Grain splitting

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Blog entry by GnarlyErik posted 04-05-2013 08:50 PM 7110 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Laying out irregular areas and surfaces Part 9 of Shop Tips & Tricks series Part 10: Clamping Big Stuff »

You are faced with end grain splitting or tearing out when working some woods. Most woodworkers know to clamp a piece of waste stock hard up against the material being worked to prevent this when planing across end grain. But what about those times when you are simply sanding or doing some other operation on end grain?

Some materials have a bad tendency to tear out slivers at the ends of narrow stock, such as a chair or table leg. Sometimes simply sliding a wooden chair leg across the floor – especially if the floor is textured, can tear out a sliver or wood at the end grain. Maple is bad for this, as are some pines, and mahogany.

A simple little trick I have found is this: Turn your stock so that the end grain is up; using masking or duct tape, make a tape ‘dam’ completely around your stock – see photo below:

Mix a little good quality varnish with a bit of thinner so that it is quite thin. Pour or brush a little of this on the end grain inside the dam. Be sure to get enough there so that it ‘floats’ or stays liquid on top of the end grain at first. Leave it to soak overnight or longer, until it is completely absorbed. Most woods will soak up liquid by capillary action, quite far into the wood – sometimes several inches. You can see the evidence of this sometimes when it weeps out the sides of the material below the end grain and dam. See Photos:

Of course you can do something similar with glues, but they are usually of such a viscosity glues, even thinned, will not as easily soak in as a paint or varnish. Once the material is soaked in, remove the tape, clean up the sides and allow it to cure until hard, which may take a day or two.This will bind the fibers together and usually will cure problems with end grain tear out.

-- "Never let your dogma be run over by your karma!"

5 comments so far

View quicksilver's profile


195 posts in 3674 days

#1 posted 04-05-2013 09:25 PM

good idea

-- Quicksilver

View Bob817's profile


679 posts in 3469 days

#2 posted 04-05-2013 09:59 PM

Great idea, Thankyou

-- ~ Bob ~ Newton, N.H.

View Woodbridge's profile


3749 posts in 3504 days

#3 posted 04-05-2013 10:43 PM

Thanks that is an interesting tip.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3776 days

#4 posted 04-06-2013 01:55 AM

Thanks. This looks like a good tip.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10880 posts in 4201 days

#5 posted 04-07-2013 08:01 PM

thanks Erik :-)


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