Cracking pine farm table top

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Forum topic by PeachStateSawyer posted 01-19-2021 02:00 PM 343 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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5 posts in 52 days

01-19-2021 02:00 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

Hello everyone. Running into an issue may be somebody has had experience with. Made a client a 6 1/2 foot farm table out of number one pine 2×8’s. Use biscuits and glue like normal putting the table together and for the breadboard’s I used 5 dominoes with only the center one glued and the rest pinned with dowels. (Wide domino holes on all but center on the bread Board side) I attach the table to the base using figure 8 hardware on the ends and elongated figure eights on the sides. Finish the table by painting the base and staining with poly on the top. Client had to table for a couple of weeks and it’s developing cracks in the middle of the boards but not in any of the joints. Problem is this will be the third table that this issue has occurred since September.

-- Steve - peachstatesawyer ( on Instagram)

12 replies so far

View Axis39's profile


430 posts in 605 days

#1 posted 01-19-2021 03:11 PM

The problem is your source wood.

The moisture content was too wet (do you have a moisture meter?) and has dried and shrunk when exposed to dry central heating and winter conditions.

The ultimate solution is to buy wood and age it… Although, not always possible, this is the ultimate goal, especially for fine furniture pieces.

Unfortunately, the only solution is to make a new top.. Well, unless the client would be okay with you making it a ‘feature’ not a ‘problem’ by doing some inlays to keep the cracking to a minimum. But, I don’t know that that will be very elegant.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

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77 posts in 606 days

#2 posted 01-19-2021 03:33 PM

What Axis39 said. Try to avoid the box stores.

-- Clark

View WhyMe's profile


1357 posts in 2569 days

#3 posted 01-19-2021 04:09 PM

If you pinned the dominos how does that allow for movement? Are the cracks at the ends of main panel?

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5 posts in 52 days

#4 posted 01-19-2021 04:11 PM

Appreciate the responses. Moisture content of the pine was between 10.1 and 10.4 when I put it together. Unlike the hardwoods that I use which I cut it on the sawmill, dry it in the kiln and then acclimate it in a climate controlled environment, I used store-bought pine for this clients 3 tables. Since the wood did come from the box store and used immediately it probably needed to be acclimated also. Sometimes when you’re in a hurry you overlook the obvious. Again thanks for the responses.

-- Steve - peachstatesawyer ( on Instagram)

View Robert's profile


4440 posts in 2489 days

#5 posted 01-19-2021 04:22 PM

Looking to the future, if you think you will build another one, I would build a kiln.

I’ve done a little research on this, as I have a lot of air dry lumber at 12-14% I need to get down.

It can be as simple as a plywood box, styrofoam panels, a small fan and a heat source some use 100 watt lights – enough to get to 140°F.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

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1461 posts in 1968 days

#6 posted 01-19-2021 04:41 PM

I use to build a lot from pine in the early 80’s. You really have to look those boards over.

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5 posts in 52 days

#7 posted 01-19-2021 04:51 PM

Thanks for the input- appreciate all suggestions

-- Steve - peachstatesawyer ( on Instagram)

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1223 posts in 3826 days

#8 posted 01-19-2021 05:07 PM

I’m a little skeptical that the table would crack like that with the wood simply drying from about 10% to about 8%, if the tabletop was free to expand and contract. Wood furniture in homes in many climates see at least that much variation seasonally, every year and survives as long as construction methods allow for movement. I might wonder if your moisture measurement was accurate, but you have a sawmill and kiln, so you have lots of experience with moisture meters.
My inclination would be to examine the breadboard ends more closely. I’m not sure I completely understand how the pinned dominos work, but is there any way the dominos got glued in place via the dowels or maybe the loose domino slots were still not quite large enough to allow the shrinkage?

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

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1357 posts in 2569 days

#9 posted 01-19-2021 07:30 PM

Seems the OP ignored my question about the dominos being pinned.

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5 posts in 52 days

#10 posted 01-19-2021 08:09 PM

Absolutely not- been cutting wood on sawmill today and actually missed that question. Yes I pin my breadboard dominos but the holes in the domino itself is elongated side to side to allow movement. The cracks normally occur in tabletop well away from breadboard. I’m sure it’s both moisture and wood quality. Need to go back to using my wood vs box stores

-- Steve - peachstatesawyer ( on Instagram)

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3670 posts in 2806 days

#11 posted 01-19-2021 08:51 PM

How were the boards prepared did you mill them square with a jointer, planer and tabkesaw. Or just clamp the edges closed with lots of clamps.

-- Aj

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5 posts in 52 days

#12 posted 01-19-2021 09:17 PM

All the boards were sent through a planer (twice on each side)then they were edged with a track saw so joints matched perfectly. Used ample amounts of titebond 3 and we use frontline clamps. Im sure it’s the moisture in the boards as others have pointed out and is my fault for assuming store bought lumber could be used right away. Live and learn

-- Steve - peachstatesawyer ( on Instagram)

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