In Shop Blog, Techniques

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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.


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