How to Stop Wood from Splitting When Drying

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When creating a shelter in the wild, you cannot use green wood for construction and carpentry, and there are many reasons for that. It’s essential to store your wood until it dries completely to get the best out of it.

However, as the wood dries, many threats come up. A good example of such threats is gaping cracks and crevices, which will destroy and drastically lower the quality of your wood.

By all means, you have to ensure you have protected wood from cracking as it dries to maintain its quality.

In this text, you will learn how to stop the wood from splitting when drying. But first, let’s see what causes splitting as the wood dries:

Why Does Wood Spilt as It Dries?

As the wood dries, it loses water and starts to shrink. Different tree species and the general storage conditions will affect the extent to which wood shrinks.

Freshly cut wood has water that accounts for up to half of the total weight of the wood. When this water evaporates it causes shrinking.

Under the normal conditions, wood will not shrink uniformly. This is the main reason the wood splits.

How to Prevent Shrinking in Wood

Wood with cracks is not always the best. Somehow, you have to try your best to ensure it dries without splitting.

There are many ways online and in different forums explaining how to prevent your wood from splitting. However, not all of them work effectively.

We have analyzed and tried different methods and have come up with a list of the top 7 ways that have been proven to work.

Top 7 Ways to Prevent Wood from Splitting When Drying

  1. Use Paintable Wax

This method is most preferred when working on green wood. It’s very cheap as it uses readily available materials.

When using paintable wax to coat your wood, you don’t require professional help as you can do it yourself.

Some of the materials you need include candle wax, food scale, paint thinner, and a canning jar. Once you have everything gathered, you can follow the following steps to have your job done.

  • Place the candle wax in a plastic bag and crush it into small pieces using a hammer.
  • Melt all the broken candle wax using a pot or saucepan.
  • Add some paint thinner into a canning jar up the quarter level of the canning jar’s total capacity.
  • Add the wax you melted into the canning jar and mix to form a uniform mixture.
  • Use a brush to apply your homemade sealant to the open ends of the wood that you want to protect.

While working with paint thinner, keep in mind that it’s highly flammable and should be kept away from an open fire.

  1. Keep the Wood Wet

In normal settings, the outer layers of wood that are exposed to the ambience temperature will lose water faster than the inner layers.

If the outer layer is shrinking more than the inner one, cracking is most likely to occur.

Keeping the wood wet will solve this problem by maintaining the temperature on the exposed part of the wood and keep evaporation in balance.

If you are working with green wood, ensure to spray it with water.

When you take a break, you can cover the wood with a plastic bag to prevent excessive evaporation.

The plastic bag should be removed soon after you resume your work to prevent molds from attacking the wood.

  1. Using Sealer Paint

In cases where you want to store your wood as logs and prevent it from cracking but don’t know how, then you may want to try sealant paint.

Apply the sealant on both sides of the log to prevent any direct contact from the air and other environmental conditions.

Without direct contact with air, the rate at which the logs lose water all cracks development will be kept in check.

However, not all sealants in the market are effective and durable when it comes to preventing wood splitting.

You have to find good quality wood sealers to ensure maximum protection.

  1. Using Roofing Tar

Roofing tar is the best way of preventing wood splitting in cases where you are low on budget, and when the price of other premium protection products is way too high for you.

You can’t let your logs split out there when there are other cheaper and effective methods. Roofing tar is one such cheap and effective methods.

Apply a coat of roofing tar on the wood’s surface to keep it safe from environmental conditions like rain and heat.

Roofing tar should not stay on the wood for too long. Therefore, after applying the roofing tar, keep the logs in a vertical position until it dries off completely.

Roofing tar dries off quickly compared to sealers meaning you should add a layer of the roofing tar to the wood from time to time.

  1. Apply Linseed Oil

Linseed oil is primarily known for its use in preventing wood from splitting.

Working with linseed oil is very easy and involves a few steps. First, you have to sand the surface of the wood that you want to preserve.

Sanding is an essential step in the preservation of wood. Always ensure to sand wood in the direction of the wood fibers.

In cases where you want to cut the wood into boards before storing it, you must sand all the surfaces.

Once you are done sanding, remove all the grains, apply the linseed oil, and store it in the open air away from direct sunlight.

Bear in mind that direct sunlight can do more harm to your wood than preserving it.

  1. Store the Wood as Boards

This is a very brilliant idea of keeping the problem of cracks on wood behind you.

Instead of storing the wood as logs, you can opt to cut them into boards. Boards are less likely to split compared to logs.

Besides, it’s easier to deal with cracked boards than dealing with the effect of split wood.

Before cutting your wood into boards, it’s essential to understand that you can’t reverse the whole process.

If you want to use the wood as they are, there is no need to cut it. You will want to try other methods like using the roofing tar or paintable wax to coat the open sides.

  1. Choose Your Green Wood Wisely

There are many types of green wood out there harvested from different kinds of trees.

Each tree species has its properties, benefits, drawbacks, and the rate and extent to which it cracks.

Greenwood harvested, stored, and used in their local environment, are more likely to remain intact away from cracks.

If possible, you should use green wood in your local environment or buy them from local mills.


Wood splitting is a common problem in woodwork, and you have to do everything possible to prevent it.

There are many methods that can be used to prevent cracking with the ones listed above being the most practical ways to solve the issue.

Nonetheless, not every method listed above is the best for you. You have to consider the type of wood you are dealing with, the environment you are in, and what you want to do with your wood after it dries.

Related Guides

How to Find Fatwood in the Wild

How to Start a Fire with Wet Wood





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