Welcome! Forums General Woodworking Discussions Projects Help! How can I fix this split due to shrinkage?!

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    James Savage

    Hi Greg,

    I used PVA, which is why I am a bit surprised it managed to split down the edge joint (never had a glue joint split like that before).

    I was hoping for a less destruvtive solution than cutting away the breadboard, but I think it might be the only way!

    Im a bit shocked how much the table top has shrunk….


    Hello Chris, what a lovely looking table.
    I’ve had a couple of PVA joints fail on me when joint edging and I’ve put it down to the cold weather, my work area is unheated. I now sneak bits into the house for the glue to cure overnight and I’ve not had a problem since doing this.
    I feel gutted for you.

    Jim - Derbyshire.



    Maybe this can help: https://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=it&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fartedelrestauro.it%2Fblog%2Fsverza-fianco-mobile-antico.html

    Notice the “V” shape of the strip (very important detail).

    Have a nice day!

    David Perrott

    Probably the only option would be to put some type of filler, or slice of wood in there, then try to color it. Regardless it will probably show. I say leave it alone! Its probably not as visually dominant to other people. Don’t point it out to people! Yes you will see it. I think its probably trying to fix it will make it more visible. Its one thing to know the wood cracked, its another to know you did it!


    I think the grain pattern on the BBE really makes it into a feature, it looks great. Can’t comment on how to fix the split, but if you do decide to replace the end, try to keep the style, it’s very cool.


    I really like the different grain of the breadboard end.

    I sympathise with your horror! Certainly wouldn’t want to take it apart.

    I would second Matthews idea of fitting a slip in the gap. With the way Sapele grain works I think you could make it disappear with some care.

    Hope it goes ok!


    Greg Merritt

    If this piece were 50-100yrs old, I would agree with adding a filler strip and blending. However, this piece is not old and seasoned. It has in fact shrunk almost an 1/8″ in a matter of days. Most likely it will swell again this summer. If you install a slip into the split you run a very good chance of the slip acting as a wedge this summer and driving the split further along the seam.

    The bigger issue is the failure of the glue seam. PVA hates the cold. It needs to be warm when applied and kept that way until it completely cures. This seam has failed over 3/4 of it’s length. There is not a lot of glue joint left holding the two pieces together. What is left together is now questionable at best. In another week it could possibly fail completely.

    You’ve spent this much time and effort to create a beautiful table. Why not spend one more weekend and fix it properly?



    Whatever you decide to do, I wouldn’t do it now. Leave the table for a few weeks to reach more of an equilibrium with its surroundings.

    If you put a slip in the split, you still have the more drastic option if it later fails. I would be reluctant to do the same job three times in a row, I know the third time I’d be too fed up to do my best work. The only drawback to doing it this way round that I can think of is the chance, if you come to re-do the table top, that you might be left with a little bruising on the top edges of the boards from the slip. You’d lose a little width off the table re-jointing the two halves but hardly enough for anyone to notice.

    If you feel more sanguine about doing the top over again once the wood’s ready, go ahead. If not, repair the split, and come back to the bigger job if it becomes necessary.

    Southampton, UK

    Chris Bunney

    Thanks for your opinions, @chemical_cake and @gman3555. Greg – you raise two good points; it is certainly possible that the remaining glue could fail and the table could strink/expand more.

    I think I might leave it for the time being, as Matthew suggests, and see what it does. The seperation already looks slightly bigger than when I took the picture!

    Interestingly, there is now also a noticable “step” on the edge of the BBE where it joins the tabletop. Obviously, I planed this completely flush before rounding the corners, so the table top has shrunk away from both the join and the edges!

    It’s interesting what you say abut PVA hating the cold – one of the issue with my workshop is that it is very cold over the winter (it is a concrete block garage seperated from the house).

    I might try animal hide glue on my next project – I find the glue up quite stressful with PVA; even with a rehersal my projects never go together quite as well once I apply the glue (why are joints always perfect and square when you dry fit them, then turn into a trapezoidal shaped nightmare when you apply glue and clamps!!!!? Dont even start me on glue-freeze….)

    Chris - Exeter, UK

    Greg Merritt

    I feel your pain. I know it’s frustrating when something like this happens.

    PVA glue should only be used when the temperature is 55deg or above. Both the material and the glue. I have switched to liquid hide glue almost exclusively. Its reversible and has a longer open time. Much more forgiving during glue up of assemblies.

    I wish you the best of luck and keep us posted.


    David Perrott

    I started using hot hide glue. The joiners tool chest will be hide glue. I am also interested in string repair and heard liquid hide glue wasn’t very good for that. My luthier says the reason liquid hide glue stays liquid, is the same reason it doesn’t bond well. Plus making the glue you can adjust it to your needs.

    Greg Merritt

    Here is a link to a 2007 article by Fine Woodworking where they tested the strength of various type of glue.



    Jonathon Jongsma

    Interesting article, Greg. I may have to try to pick up a bottle of hide glue.

    Minnesota, USA

    Chris Bunney

    I finally got round to repairing this – and I think the result is a success!

    I’ve posted the details in a new post here

    Chris - Exeter, UK

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