Splits and cracks (known as wood checks in the industry) occur when wood shrinks as it dries. Wood shrinks roughly twice as much along with the growth rings (radially) as it does across the rings (tangentially). It is this uneven shrinkage that causes checks to develop.
What Is Wood Checking?
Wood checking is a condition that can affect any type of wood, but is most common in hardwoods. It is characterized by a series of cracks that form in the wood, usually running perpendicular to the grain.
These cracks can be very small and barely visible, or they can be large and deep. Wood checking can be caused by a number of different things, including changes in temperature and humidity, insect damage, and even the way the wood was cut.
Most wood checking is not a structural problem and does not affect the strength or stability of the wood. However, it can be unsightly, and in some cases, the cracks can be deep enough to catch your finger on.
If you have wood checking, you may want to consider filling the cracks with a wood filler or sealer. This will not completely eliminate the problem, but it can help to reduce its appearance.
If you have wood checking, it is important to monitor the condition of the wood and to repair any cracks as soon as possible.
Allowing the cracks to remain unrepaired can cause the problem to worsen, and eventually, the wood may need to be replaced.