Red oak mantle piece split in kiln


I recently acquired an 8' x 8" x 4" red oak mantle piece (for $25). When I received it, I found some deep cracks in it, as it had split in the kiln. I'm going to try to use it anyway. For $25, I've got little to lose. My question is this:
What should I use to fill the voids in the wood? I expect there's some kind of filler that would work well, which I could top with a sandable and stainable putty. What do you recommend?
Thanks, Scott
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snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

You may not care about the money, but what about the time you're going to waste trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear? That has value too. Go ahead and use it anyway -- *in* the fireplace, not *above* it.

No need to, for firewood. :-)

No, not really. No matter what you do, it's still going to look like it was filled and stained.

Use lumber that was dried properly. As this piece expands and contracts with seasonal changes in humidity -- and exposure to high temps in service as a fireplace mantle -- those cracks will grow. Any filler you put in will eventually come out, too.
You're probably better off building up a hollow box from 1" lumber than hoping to find a 4x8 that was dried properly.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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wrote:

The box is the answer. Even if you fill the checks with oak wedges for best match, you're involved in a crapshoot with all that dry heat. Likely to discover more trouble first heating season.
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Rip the board to eliminate the cracks and then reglue the good pieces together.

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Depending on the extent of cracking, you might try to close them up by injecting glue, then clamping so the cracks close. You could then reinforce it from the back with a coutersunk lag screw or some similar way. Good luck.
Steve

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On 19 Sep 2005 08:39:13 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@hotmail.com wrote:

A lot of it depends on the appearance you're willing to live with. I cut a lot of red oak on my hunting property and use some "hunks" for cabin furniture. When it develops splits (usually) I use what I use to bed rifle barrels in a stock - Brownells Acra Glass bedding compound.
You can tint it, it's incredibly stable (near 0 shrinkage), and bonds to wood (unfinished wood that is) like you won't believe. It can be sanded, scraped or planed. I use a meat syringe (like for injecting a turkey), or the syringes that Brownells sells, flow the stuff in and let it set. Masking tape and a bit of old fashioned kids' modeling clay can be used to build a dam around the edges to allow for a bit of build up to sand down. Spray Pam or its ilk on the masking tape before sticking it down (works better than the release compound that comes with Acra Glass kits). It won't look like wood, but if you put in the black dye in the kit it does look like a weird grain stripe - WTH.
Try
http://www.brownells.com/aspx/NS/store/ProductDetail.aspx?p 33&titleRAGLAS%7e
BTW, their catalog is almost a collector's item. It weighs about 2 pounds and has more "stuff" for gun nuts than you can imagine. Like the old Herters catalogs, everything is "the best", "the ultimate", "the unduplicatable", and many other superlative type words. It's neat!
I have no commercial relationship with Brownells, but am I very satisfied customer for the past 30 years.
Regards.
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If the stain is a dark color and the crack(s) are sort of along the grain, you might be able to fill/restain.
I have had the best results from Elmers stainable wood filler which comes in different colors to start with, but is still stainable. I use dark walnut with Minwax special walnut stain. I have tried other fillers, but this takes stain the best (of the three or four I have had experience with). Both at HD.
I found it very important not to try to sand the filler too much only down (up?) to 100 grit or so. Soaks the stain better. You can adjust the gloss with the finish coats.
Personally, I think that it's kind of cool to use an old (even beat-up) mantel if it has character!
A nice conversation piece.
Lou
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How about just using it as is, cracks and all?
Go at with with a few hand planes and chisels, rustic and all.
Ayup, I like that idea...
David.
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