How To Dry Wood Without Cracking? (4 PROVEN Methods!)

how to dry wood without cracking

Wood slices and disks are used for various woodworking projects. Drying wood slices is essential to get the maximum benefits out of them since working with wet wood is difficult and can damage the wood.

When the wood is drying one of the major challenges most woodworks face is wood cracking. So, let’s find out, How to dry wood without cracking?

You can dry wood without cracking by applying a sealant, stabilizer, or salt paste before drying. Finally, you can apply boiled linseed oil or let logs dry as boards to avoid cracking when drying. Treating wood with stabilizing solution keeps wood from cracking when drying.

But that’s a quick snapshot and there’s a lot more to know about drying wood without cracking.

So, in this article, we’ll explore, how to dry wood without cracking, does wood crack when dry and what steps should we need to follow to stop that and how to dry wood slices naturally.

Furthermore, I’ll answer some frequently asked questions about drying wood without cracking as well.

So, let’s jump in!

Does Wood Crack When Dry?

Yes, wood may crack when dry due to the evaporation of moisture from the wood to the atmosphere. Therefore, wood tends to crack when drying.

The reduction of moisture content inside the wood can be a reason for wood cracking.

Generally, the environmental moisture content is higher than the moisture content inside of the wood.

When the wood slices are drying, more and more moisture evaporates from the wood resulting in wood shrinking. Excess wood shrinkage may leads wood to crack.

When the wood is drying wood shrinks and cracks not only because of the moisture evaporations but also because of the thermal expansion of the wood fibers.

As a result of wood fiber expansions and contractions, the wood splices get cracks when drying.

Wood shrinkages in random areas of the wood when drying not only cause wood to crack but also cause wood warping.

Wood cracks when drying because of the moisture evaporation from the wood to the air and the thermal expansion of the wood fibers.

To stop wood from cracking when drying, you need to have a proper understanding of wood movements.

So, in order to prevent the wood from cracking when drying, we need to minimize moisture evaporation and thermal expansions. This is where wood treating comes for help.

How To Keep Wood from Cracking When Drying?

Here’re the best methods to dry wood without cracking.

  1. Apply sealant or stabilizer
  2. Apply salt paste
  3. Apply linseed oil
  4. Let wood logs dry as boards

So. Let’s discuss each of the above methods to get a clear idea about keeping wood from cracking when drying.

1. Apply Sealant or Stabilizer

By applying a sealant or stabilizing solution on wood before drying you’ll be able to keep it from cracking during the drying process.

Sealants and stabilizers break and make a barrier between the wood surface and the outside air.

Therefore, moisture won’t get evaporated from the wood when drying and prevent the wood from cracking.

Applying sealant or stabilizer is the easiest method to keep wood from cracking when drying because they are easy to apply without creating a mess.

Applying sealant or stabilizing solution is the fastest way to dry wood.

Anchor seal is the best sealant you can use to apply on wood before drying to avoid wood cracking.

Other than that, polyurethane and lacquer-type sealants are also good to use for furniture and woodwork because of having good waterproofing ability.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Stabilizer or sealant
  • Bristle brush
  • Wood slices
  • Rubber gloves
  • Clean rags

Here’re the steps you need to follow when applying a sealant or stabilizer to avoid wood cracking when drying.

  1. Clean the wood
  2. Sand the wood
  3. Apply sealant or stabilizer
  4. Let it dry completely

So, let’s discuss each step separately to apply sealant on wood before drying.

1. Clean the Wood

Clean the wooden surface completely to remove dust, debris, grimes, and another residue with rags.

Use soapy water to remove dirt and stains that are hard to remove. Cleaning before sealing is important to avoid surface blotchiness.

2. Sand The Wood

Sand the wood slices with 80 grit and 100 grit sandpaper to smoothen the surface.

Sanding prepares the wood surface to take on sealants and stabilizers evenly.

Sand along the direction of the wood grain to avoid making scratches without missing any spots.

Then remove sawdust using a rag and leave it for a few hours before applying the sealant.

Now your wood is ready to accept the sealant or stabilizer.

3. Apply Sealant or Stabilizer

Now dip the bristle brush on sealant or stabilizer and apply a thin layer all over the wooden surface without missing any spots.

Apply along the direction of the wood grain for better absorbance and to avoid surface bubbles.

A sealant or stabilizing solution needs to spread all over the wood evenly to get a nice protective coating. Otherwise, drying can be so difficult and wood may tend to warp.

A single coat of sealant or stabilizer is enough to cover up the entire wood surface.

Missing spots can interact with the outside world and may cause wood to crack during drying. Therefore, you need to cover the wood 100% with sealant or stabilizer solution.

4. Let The Wood Dry Completely

After applying a sealant or stabilizer, let the wood dry completely for 3 – 4 days before taking them to dry.

During the drying time, the sealant will absorb well into the wood and make a protective waterproofing shield on top of the wood to avoid wood contact with outside air.

Thinner wood slices dry faster than the thicker ones. You can touch and check whether the wood is still wet or not.

If it is still wet, better to give it more time to dry.

When the wood is completely dried, you can use it to dry. With proper sealant or stabilizer, your wood won’t get cracks when drying.

Air drying is recommended to dry wood properly without cracks and splits. Air drying prevents wood from warping, and it can take a couple of days to dry.

2. Apply Salt Paste

You can apply the salt paste on wood slices before drying them to avoid wood from cracking.

The salt paste dries the wood by absorbing moisture contents inside of the wood which can cause wood cracking.

Applying slat paste is the most environmentally friendly method to treat the wood before drying because it contains no harmful chemicals such as sealants.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Salt
  • Cornstarch
  • Eggs
  • Paintbrush
  • Plastic container

Here’re the steps you need to follow when applying salt paste before drying the wood.

  1. Prepare salt solution
  2. Add cornstarch
  3. Add eggs
  4. Apply the salt paste
  5. Dry the wood

So, let’s discuss each of the above steps in detail to know how to apply the salt paste on wood before drying to avoid cracking.

1. Prepare Salt Solution

Take the plastic container and fill it will fresh water. Then add enough salt to it and stir well until it’s fully mixed.

Make sure not to oversaturate the solution with salt.

Once they are fully mixed keep them aside for about 4 hours.

2. Add Cornstarch

After keeping the plastic container for a minimum of 4 hours, add enough cornstarch to it and mix well.

Make sure not to add too much cornstarch since they won’t mix well, and the solution may get too hard. A little amount is sufficient for the job.

3. Add Eggs

After mixing the solution with cornstarch add eggs to the compound and mix well until they get disappeared in the salt paste solution.

Mixing eggs well is important because you may probably face displaying flake issues once the wood dries after applying the paste if the eggs didn’t mix well with the salt paste.

Therefore, mixing is essential for fewer troubles in the future.

4. Apply the Salt Paste

After mixing the salt paste solution well, apply it to the entire wooden surface using a paintbrush without missing any spots.

Dip the paintbrush well on salt paste since it’s a bit difficult to apply when the solution is hard.

Finally, you should end up with a uniformly applied salt paste coat over the wooden surface.

Good coverage is essential including edges, and corners. Paste won’t come off easily once it is fully cured.

5. Dry The Wood

After applying salt paste well over the wood, let it dry for several hours to make a stable coating n the wood. leave the wood in a dry area to dry.

The salt paste starts to absorb moisture from the wood and keeps avoid it from cracking.

Drying time varies on the thickness of the salt paste.

Once the surface is dried completely you can let the wood slices dry and salt paste will protect the wood from cracking.

3. Apply Linseed Oil

Linseed oil protects wood from cracking during drying. Linseed oil repels water and prevents moisture evaporation from the wood.

Plus, linseed oil has good elasticity that can expand and contract with wood movements and avoid wood from cracking when drying.

Applying linseed oil on wood slices is an environmentally friendly method to prevent the wood from cracking since linseed oil comes from flaxseed.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Linseed oil
  • Wood slices
  • Sandpapers
  • Lint-free cloths
  • Rags

Here’re the steps you need to follow when applying linseed oil on wood slices to avoid wood cracking when drying.

  1. Clean and prepare the wood surface
  2. Sand the wood
  3. Apply linseed oil
  4. Let the wood dry completely

Let’s discuss each of the above steps separately to get a clear idea about applying linseed oil on wood slices.

1. Clean and Prepare Wood Surface

Clean the whole wooden surface with rags to remove dust, debris, and grimes.

Cleaning is essential before any wood treating process to get maximum benefits out of it. Use soapy water to the stains that are hard to remove.

Make sure to dry the wood completely before sanding. Take wood to the well-ventilated area before the application and sanding process.

2. Sand The Wood

Sand and smoothen the wooden surface with 80 grit and 100 grit sandpapers. Sanding is essential to make the surface ready to take on the linseed oil.

Sanding helps to eliminate surface randomness and helps to spread linseed oil evenly throughout the wood.

Once you’re done with sanding, clean sawdust using rags. Now your surface is super ready to take linseed oil coating.

3. Apply Linseed Oil

Pour a sufficient amount of linseed oil into a lint-free rag and soak it.

Then wipe thorough the whole surface along the direction of the wood grain for better absorption to the wood.

Make sure not to miss any spot when applying linseed oil since moisture in the air can interact with the wood and can cause wood to crack through those missing spots.

Linseed oil penetrates the wood fibers and makes them saturated.

This will prevent the wood from cracking and improves its elasticity and flexibility of the wood.

Let the first coat absorb well into the wood and wipe excess oil for a better finish.

4. Let The Wood Dry Completely

Let the wood dry for 24 hours to dry and settle in linseed oil completely. Enough drying time is essential to get a good linseed oil coating with no blotches or streaks.

Light sand the entire surface with 400 grit sandpaper for an ultra-soft smooth finish.

Apply a second coat of Linseed oil to get the best results with excellent protection from outside moisture.

Linseed oil prevents moisture evaporation from the wood and stops the wood from cracking when drying.

Once the wood is dead after linseed oil application, you can dry wood slices without worrying about cracks.

4. Let Wood Logs Dry As Boards

This is an optional way of drying wood without cracking. When you cut logs or wood slices, place them immediately as boards and leave them to dry.

Better to use the air drying method because it takes a couple of days to dry and won’t cause immediate cracks on wood slices.

By letting wood logs and slices dry as boards you can not only prevent the wood from cracking when drying, but also it stops the wood from warping.

That’s it, folks! Now you know how to dry wood without cracking in 4 different methods.

So, let’s answer some frequently asked questions about keeping wood from cracking when drying.

How Long to Air Dry Wood Slices?

24 hours of air-drying time is recommended time to dry wood slices without getting cracks and splits. Air-drying time can vary on the thickness of the wood slices.

You can reduce the air-drying time by cutting wood into thin pieces since thick pieces take so long to dry.

Some thick wood slices can take up to 3 – 4 days to complete the drying process.

Air drying is the best method to dry fresh-cut wood.

Does Dry Wood Split Easier?

Generally, dry wood is split easier than wet wood since dry woods contain less moisture content and they cut and split through wood fibers more easily than wet woods.

Dry woods are easier to cut than wet woods.

To keep wood from splitting, you can apply sealant, salt paste, varnish, paintable wax, or boiled linseed oil.

They will treat the wood well and stop wood from splitting and improves the wood sheen.

How Do You Keep Wood Furniture from Cracking?

You can keep wood furniture from cracking by treating them with a suitable finisher.

They will prevent water from going inside of your furniture and prevent the wood from not only cracking but also from rotting and decaying and improving the wood furniture’s appearance.

Here’re the best methods you can use to keep wood furniture from cracking.

  • Apply sealant or stabilizer
  • Apply salt paste
  • Apply paintable wax
  • Apply varnish
  • Apply polyurethane
  • Protect wood from harsh weather conditions

Did I cover all you wanted to know about: How to Dry Wood Without Cracking?

In this article, we have deeply discussed how to dry wood without cracking with 4 different methods and we discussed the pros and cons of each method as well.

You can dry wood without cracking by applying a sealant or stabilizing solution, applying the salt paste, or linseed oil, or letting wood slices dry as boards. Air drying is the best drying method to prevent the wood from cracking.

Furthermore, I’ve answered some frequently asked questions about drying wood without cracking as well.

Hope you have gained good knowledge about wood drying with care.

Try to use methods you have learned from these posts to protect your wood slices from cracking when drying.

Walter Parker is a woodworking enthusiast. He is passionate about woodworking projects & plays with woodworking tools having spent over 2 decades as a leader for Woodworking Planet. He wants to make people love woodworking! Read More About Him!

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