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Thread: Sweet gum cracks

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Clyce, Texas
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    187

    Sweet gum cracks

    A friend from a local woodworking club brought me a piece of sweet gum out of his yard. It's 4-5" thick and 12-14" in diameter. He didn't know for sure how long it had been cut, but it was plenty dry. He wanted to know if there was anything I could do with it. I looked at it and there are several small cracks in what I can see, but nothing major. Is there something I can put on it to fill the cracks and stabilize it while I turn it? I'd like to make a bowl for him out of it, but don't want it flying apart as it starts to get thin. Any suggestions?

    Steve

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Reno, Nv
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    3,632
    I'd start with plain 'ol CA Steve. Turn it round, identify the cracks and fill as youbgo. In this case...accelerator would be a good choice...JMHO.
    Your Respiratory Therapist wears Combat boots

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Yorktown, Virginia
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    5,017
    My go to for small crack filling has been CA glue. Hit them with thin first, immediately followed by medium. Bear in mind the CA will spread unless you contain it with some blue painters tape. CA is not the best crack filler though, since it doesn't expand and contract at the same rate as the wood and the crack may reopen. Many people use epoxy thinned with denatured alcohol as a crack filler. I haven't tried it yet.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Clyce, Texas
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    Thanks guys, that was my first idea, too. I think I'll get some tubes of HF CA glue and fill what I can before I start turning then fill as I go as well. Thanks again.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
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    Harrisburg, NC
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    One thing you may consider depending on the size of the cracks is to add used (dry) coffee grounds in the cracks along with the CA.
    Normally blends in well and helps to add filler for expensive CA without weakening the crack/fill.

    I would stop and check it very often regardless of the type of fill to make sure it is sound.
    All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent. Thomas Jefferson

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    ABQ NM
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    30,020
    Keep in mind, I seldom turn pieces meant to be functional, but I tend to leave any crack open until I either decide they are a structural liability, or that they'd look better filled. When I do fill cracks, it's usually with either black epoxy or crushed charcoal and CA glue. (If it's so tight I can't work epoxy or charcoal into it, I generally don't worry about it.) This 7" walnut bowl had a lot of cracks, but I was careful about where I put the rim, gentle with the tools, and conservative with the lathe speed. It never acted like it wanted to come apart.





    I've turned several other pieces with big deep cracks or voids. I wouldn't worry about small cracks in sweet gum, at least not until I was pretty far along in the turning process.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
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    Clyce, Texas
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    Thanks Vaughn, that's beautiful.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Location
    Parker County, Texas
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    1,502
    Hi Steve! I brought in a sweet gum tree last year. Took it down at my sister's house. Seeing the wood is so soft to start with, the cracks can cause you more worry than they are worth. I had to deal with that and was able to rough out the piece at low rpm's and didn't have to deal with filling in the cracks until I saw what I really had as far as their depth. The I just dripped in some clear ca glue and let it harden. Then just took it in stages and ended up with pretty nice bowls and spice boxes. Good luck. It does tear fairly easy so keep them thar gouges razor sharp!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Clyce, Texas
    Posts
    187
    Thanks Dave, will do. Heading to meet a man who owns a saw mill today near Rising Star, TX. Supposed to have a lot of good turning stock and flat wood, too - mesquite, blackjack oak, and who knows what else. I'll report back after I see what he's got.

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