Advice Sought: Cracked end-grain maple board. Is it dead or can it be saved?

Discussion in 'The BoardSMITH' started by DitmasPork, Jan 14, 2019.

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  1. Jan 14, 2019 #1

    DitmasPork

    DitmasPork

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    It's been a bad winter with me and wooden things.

    First my Tanaka ebony handle cracked near the ferrule—I'm fixing it now by filling the crack with Krazy Glue, drying now.

    Yesterday I was very bummed out to find two significant cracks on my beloved BoardSmith! Urgh! It's an end-grain maple, 14 x 20 x 2, which I've had for nearly 8 years, oiling it regularly.

    Question is:

    • Does my cutting board need to be repaired by a professional woodworker, or is the crack likely to close up once the weather gets more normal? I'm an urban dweller without much wood knowledge. I've no idea what woodworkers charge.

    • Is it beyond saving—should I just write it off and as a lost cause and be happy that I had 8 wonderful years with it?

    • Since I don't have clamps or a workbench, can I just fill it with some sort of food-safe putty (is there such a product?)?

    Would appreciate feedback from anyone whose had a cracked board and how they dealt with it.

    [​IMG]
     
  2. Jan 14, 2019 #2

    McMan

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    Intersting... the maple appears to have a lot small checks perpendicular to the grain starting...
    Is it stored near a heat source or somewhere with heat/humidity fluctuation? Has it cycled from being very wet to very dry? Are this and that ebony handle in the same place in your house?--for example, super close to the oven's vent (i.e. source of really hot and dry air)? Might point to variables to think about...

    The crack's not going to close up. If you're lucky, it won't get any worse. Probably, it'll lengthen over time.
    A woodworker could fix this easily. A glue-up would be cheap.
    If you wanted to get fancy fancy, you could also ask about having a butterfly added to stablize things--but have the butterfly put on the side of the cutting board not on the top..
    [​IMG]
    Nowhere near beyond saving. Easy fix.
    The easiest solution is also more or less irreversible, so might not be the best solution... Soften (not melt) some beeswax, jam it in the crack like putty until entirely full, let harden, reapply as need. The problem is that once you do this, you can't clean it out and use glue easily (if at all) due to the wax penetration.
     
  3. Jan 14, 2019 #3

    WildBoar

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    And once repaired keep up with the mineral oil applications. I suspect that board could soak up a lot.
     
  4. Jan 14, 2019 #4

    DitmasPork

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    Cheers! Just found a 1 minute YouTube on a method to fix cracks, by pouring wood glue into the crack.

    Will need to do research on how food-safe wood glue is.

    Regarding storage, It's kept upright when not in use, during the winter our apartment gets very dry because of the radiators.
     
  5. Jan 14, 2019 #5
    Glue that is most often used for making cutting boards is Titebond III which is food safe. O have used it myself. But it is not really a crack filler. You may want to try to mix it with wood dust or very fine shavings. I would definitely recommend to test that first. If the food safety would not be a concern , than a thick CA glue (e.g. from Chestnut) mixed with wood dust would definitely work, but CA glues are normally not food safe (they are pretty nasty stuff actually)
     
  6. Jan 16, 2019 #6

    bahamaroot

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    Sounds like you need a humidifier in your apartment in the winter.
     
  7. Jan 17, 2019 #7

    DitmasPork

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    Fixed it. Filled the crack with Krazy Glue, waited for it to cure and subside, filled it some more—used a small piece of wood as a sanding block, used a coarse sandpaper, followed by a finer wet sandpaper. Not a perfect job—might go back and smoothen it more—but good enough, handle overall is smoother, since I took the wet sandpaper over the entire handle. Doesn't need to be perfect, not planning on selling it. I may have taken off a hair too much ebony around the crack, but needed to in order to get the glue to be seamless with the wood.

    Yes, I need a humidifier.

    Looking forward to a slow night when I can oil up all of my hos to avoid a repeat.

    Thank you for the advice!

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Jan 17, 2019 #8

    DitmasPork

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    Apologies! I put this on the wrong thread!!!
     
  9. Jan 17, 2019 #9

    milkbaby

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    It's alright, I got to like it twice that way. :)
     
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  10. Jan 17, 2019 #10

    Bert2368

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    I do a bit with wood. Fixed a few cutting boards and pieces of furniture with such problems-

    Problems like this are usually caused by change jn moisture content of wood, which does a good bit of expansion/contraction across the grain, and some (a lot less though) in direction of the grain.

    A wise wood worker is careful to choose quartersawn wood and then alternate growth ring directions as he lays up an end grain board like this to even out the stresses- Look for this if you're buying a board and save yourself some future grief?

    About filler for repairs:

    If your board dries out, opens cracks and while board is still dry, you fill those cracks with something incompressible and hard? Then next humid season, the board will EXPAND, like it is trying to close those cracks back up.

    But you just put something HARD there, and it can't compress/close the crack because of your filler. The expansion pressure against your well intentioned but dry season applied filler may just split the board some more-

    I have gotten into this cycle, ended up with boards split in two after a couple of seasonal changes.

    Best thing is to never let this cycle start! Think about humidity control and keep the board very well oiled/waxed to slow down changes in moisture as much as you can. If you take anboard to the sink and wash the dirty top side of it? DAMPEN THE OTHER SIDE TOO, YOU WANT MOISTURE TO BE EVEN THROUGHOUT. Then at the end of the day, prop boards up to dry so air can get at both sides, if you just leave it on a counter, it will cup away from the damp (bottom, can't dry) side and begin to go to hell on you.

    I like to melt and mix 50:50 by volume of (food grade) bees wax and walnut oil in a double boiler. I will use a blow dryer on low to medium heat and go over the board (or a linseed oil finished rifle stock, my Garand, Springfield and model of 1917 stocks get this touched up yearly), rubbing the wax/oil into the warmed wood grain generously with my finger tips, leaving a bit more than the wood can take up. After the whole piece is covered, I take a small piece of old cotton towel and buff it smooth to remove excess. I often save the buffing towel pieces (now loaded with excess oil/bees wax) in a ziplock in my freezer, I can just whip one out and microwave for a few seconds to do little touchups.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2019
  11. Jan 17, 2019 #11

    Kippington

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    The solution is simple: Get yourself a glass cutting-board! :D
     
  12. Jan 17, 2019 #12

    mc2442

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    Involuntary cringe with that Kip.
     
  13. Jan 17, 2019 #13

    madelinez

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    Glass is too soft, it could have small scratches that harbor bacteria. Better to use a hard ceramic cutting board. :D
     
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  14. Jan 17, 2019 #14

    daddy yo yo

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    OT: I use diamond plates as cutting boards. Those have never cracked! However, I am quite unsatisfied with edge retention on my knives. Can anyone recommend a good knife?
     
  15. Jan 19, 2019 #15

    DitmasPork

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    I reached out to a woodworker who has experience fixing cutting boards, the estimate is fair, but more than I expected—it's about 75% of what I originally paid for my board. For a little more than the price of repairing it, i can get a new end-grain. Thinking of maybe a DIY job, or getting a cheap maple edge-grain to hold me over until I can save up enough to get another quality end-grain. Gotta research food safe wood glues.
     
  16. Jan 19, 2019 #16

    jacko9

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    https://www.westmarine.com/buy/west-marine--penetrating-epoxy--P015023724 for repairs. Use blue painter tape on bottom side, mix small amounts and fill in the cracks, let dry (epoxy will build slowly) and refill until the it finally fills to top of crack. The amount supplied is good for many repairs and the directions for use are pretty clear. It is food safe when it dries.
     
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  17. Jan 19, 2019 #17

    jacko9

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  18. Jan 19, 2019 #18

    jacko9

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    Don't pour wax into the crack if you are going to use one of the epoxy solutions (the wax will block adhesion).
     
  19. Jan 19, 2019 #19

    DitmasPork

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    What's your opinion on Gorilla Wood Glue, it says "Compliant with FDA standards for indirect food contact." I should've been paying attention during my 7th grade wood shop class.
     
  20. Jan 19, 2019 #20

    milkbaby

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    It's probably similar to Titebond II. I used to use Titebond II for making sayas, but then since I got Titebond III, I just figured I'd switch over...

    I think all of the wood glues are only rated as safe for indirect food contact. Probably not considered a big deal since it's really supposed to only be used to join stuff together. I think almost all the custom cutting board makers in the USA use Titebond III for their boards.
     
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  21. Jan 19, 2019 #21

    jacko9

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    Gorilla Wood Glue and Titebond III glue both need clamping to close the gaps while drying (overnight). While Gorilla glue advertises that it is a "gap filling" glue the reality of it is that with any gap the glue dries as a foam which doesn't have any real structural strength. Epoxy can fill the gap (a little at a time) and has structural strength. If you use any kind of glue you need to clamp the joint tight.
     
  22. Jan 19, 2019 #22

    jacko9

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    While I would also clamp the joint with epoxy it is not absolutely needed if you can get it to flow into the gap (the penetrating type) I have used blue tape to dam the gap and filled the gap, let it settle and dry then repeat until it fills to the surface) I finish with a sanding block and wet/dry 120 grit paper.
     
  23. Jan 19, 2019 #23

    Bert2368

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    Gorilla glue IS NOT similar to the Titebond II/III glues either chemically or in mechanism of curing!

    It is cyanoacrylate, similar to "superglue" or the "Great Stuff" types of foaming insulations dispensed from pressurized cans. It cures by a chemical reaction on contact with water vapor and air, NOT by "drying".

    I have used a LOT of it to assemble our mortar racks and other wooden field equipment. Never used it on a food contact surface, would not do so without manufacturer's specific instructions. One thing to be aware of: Wear gloves. If traces of it harden on your skin, it is there until it wears away, along with your skin
    And it is BROWN. Looks like you have dirty fingers for a week or so!
     
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2019
  24. Jan 19, 2019 #24

    milkbaby

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    Are you talking about the Original Gorilla Glue or the Gorilla Glue Wood Glue?
     
  25. Jan 20, 2019 #25

    Bert2368

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    My bad-

    The "original" (used to be the ONLY!) gorilla glue. They have slapped their name on a ton of unrelated things since I started using the "original". Brand recognition, marketing bull #$&%!!!

    Just checked SDS and manufacturer's recommendations.

    Same general chemistry as Titebond. OK for cutting boards.

    Sorry, should have read that post more carefully.
     
  26. Jan 20, 2019 #26

    Kippington

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    The foam Gorilla Glue forms in gaps has always reminded me of the crumbly consistency inside honeycomb chocolate bars...
    [​IMG]
    I bet it's just as delicious!
     
  27. Jan 20, 2019 #27

    jacko9

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    Yeah - it does look a lot like that. Also for people suggesting using wood glue without clamping the joint shut the hardened glue in a open gap joint is not much better. Just pour a little yellow glue on your bench or a scrap piece of wood and let it dry 24 hours and see what you have.
     
  28. Jan 20, 2019 #28

    parbaked

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    I finally stopped sniffing glue and now you're encouraging me to eat it?????
     
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  29. Jan 20, 2019 #29

    Jon-cal

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    I understand where you’re coming from. It kills me when I can’t just fix something. In this case though, I think I’d say 8 years was pretty good and use this as an opportunity to buy something new and fun ;)
     
  30. Jan 21, 2019 #30

    bahamaroot

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    8 years is not a long time for a cutting board.
     

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