Q. A recent storm left a large tree limb in our yard. I'd like
to slice cross sections for plaques and trivets. How do I keep the
slices from splitting as they dry?
A. Pentacryl wood preservative is an excellent product made for
this very purpose. A slice of wood will always split because, as it
dries, the cells collapse and wither just like a dry sponge. This
stress from contraction literally pulls the disk apart, usually
resulting in a single, nasty split that runs from the bark edge toward
the pith. Pentacryl reinforces the cells so they retain their shape as
they dry. As a result, very little stress builds up in the wood and
cracks rarely occur. Pentacryl is nontoxic and is compatible with any
kind of finish. Here are a few tips about making plaques from Dale
Knobloch, the owner of Preservation Solutions, which makes Pentacryl.
- To keep the bark edge on a slab, cut the wood during the winter.
- Wood that has been outside, especially in winter, should be brought to room temperature before you apply Pentacryl.
- Don't overtreat—plan to soak your wood no more than five minutes for every inch of its thickness.
- After treatment, the wood must be allowed to dry evenly. Make sure it is exposed to air on all sides.
- Don't hurry the drying by adding heat or air movement.
Woodcraft, (800) 225-1153, www.woodcraft.com, Pentacryl wood stabilizer, 1 qt., #129318, $16; 1 gal., #129319, $47.