American Woodworker

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Wood Stabilizer Prevents Cracks



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,, Pentacryl wood stabilizer, 1 qt., #129318, $16; 1 gal., #129319, $47.



Fixer wrote re: Wood Stabilizer Prevents Cracks
on 05-23-2009 11:07 AM

If I make short boards from fire wood logs about 1" thick and about 18-20" long can I use this Pentacryl to prevent cracks  warping and splitting? Must I soak the wood or can I just paint this stuff on, how long will I need to sticker to dry the wood? Your thoughts would be appreciated, What I am looking for is a process that is much faster then a one year dry time for each inch of wood thickness at a reasonable cost, it would make no sense to negate the DIY wood savings on an expensive process.