Reply by bilyo

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Posted on I need some crack advice

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1190 posts in 2014 days

#1 posted 12-09-2018 04:13 PM

I don’t have a lot of turning experience and don’t consider myself an expert. But, I have learned through experience, reading, and what I’ve been told, that it is best to roughly shape a piece, including hollowing it, and let it set and dry some more before final turning. This can be difficult for me to do as I rarely know ahead of time exactly how a piece will look. But I have a number of roughed out blanks with walls around 1/2” thick in a box awaiting final turning. Many of them are no longer round because they have been able to shrink without cracking. When left in a chunk, the wood has no where to go when it shrinks. So, it splits. If you roughly shape it into a hollow form, the walls can move in and out in response to drying and are less apt to split.
Your photos show pieces with pretty severe splits. I can’t tell for sure, but I suspect that you haven’t done much, if any, hollowing yet. I suggest that when you start a piece you commit to completing it to a thick walled hollow form before stopping work. For the piece in your second photo, I would split away the smaller side and make a rough hollow form blank out of the larger chunk as soon as you can; before it splits. Also, as soon as you can, you can continue working with the other two, but do so carefully. Be aware that they may break into several pieces as you work. You can treat the cracking as a feature or fill them as you prefer. The cracks may worsen, but as you get the walls thinner, it becomes less likely.
Nothing you do now will make the cracks visually disappear. Nor will it prevent further cracking. Only getting the walls of the vessel thinner will have any chance of stopping or slowing it down. I would not advise you to try any repair until you have them close to final shape and know that they are going to stay together and be reasonably stable. Any filling you put in the cracks now will likely get cut away as you work. And, that’s OK as long as you understand that you may need to add more later.

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