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Discussion Starter #1
We bought an old cabin with a white oak tree holding up the middle of the cabin.In the year and half we have been in it,the tree has began to crack at the top where the ridge pole logs lie on it.

The white oak was cut from the woods here and debarked and used as is.It is about 6-7 years old,16-18 inches across,and 16 feet tall.Some of the cracks are about 4 inches deep at the top,there are two of these.Now for the question:Does anyone have any ideas how to stop it from cracking more and maybe stop it from drying out? Tia.

Backwoods
 

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I'm thinking some sort of metal band around it that you can get real tight. For it to be able to crack, it needs to be able to get bigger in diameter. Keep the diameter restricted and I suspect the cracking will stop.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks logbuilder.I thought of that but wasn't sure it would work.Now can you tell me how to moisten it again.I'm thinking it cracks partly because it dries out.
 

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Normal for whiye oak. While I hope logbuilders suggestion works I kind of dought it will.

It was put up green. White oak that big takes a long time to dry. In drying it shinks from the los of water. The cracks are because the outside drys faster than the inside so it shinks faster.

How humid is the area? raising the humidity may get it to dry a little more evenly.

Might want to ask on Woodweb. They'd probably be more knowledgable
 

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Here is a good explaination of why/how logs crack (really called a check).
http://www.northernloghome.com/checking.htm

I would not be thinking along the lines of adding moisture. In your area, I suspect you have big swings in the moisture content of the air. This causes the wood to expand/contract which adds to the checking. It would probably be a good idea to put a high quality sealer on them to keep them from absorbing moisture and hopefully keep them more stable.
 

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I agree that it was put up green. The proper way, I understand, once the timber is cut, is to seal the ends with wax, and leave the bark on the tree. This will force the tree to dry slowly, and thru the outside, not on the ends. It will take a long, long time for the log to dry completely this way. It often greatly reduces checking.

Clove
 

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Woodweb is an excellent source of information.

I read where leaving the bark on can also cause problems. Could it be that there are different conditions where this is true? Maybe it is the wood type that is the factor. The bark is supposed to accelerate the decomposition process. Here in the south, that would be a much bigger concern since our wood is not as "hard" as from trees grown in the colder climates.

Also, the Woodweb has some tables for how long it takes to properly dry out wood at different thicknesses and types. If your home is airconditioned, this may have accelerated the drying process too much.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone.Yep chuckhole,we put in window a/c last summer.I hope we are not looking at replacing this tree any time soon.
 

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The checks in the would would not cause a problem with the suport. If you think that it would be easier than having the cracks in the would you can put a metal band aroun the outside and cover it up. The strength will not be afected either way unless a chunk will fall out. I have seen a lot of that kind of things that were over a hundred years old and they are still as storng as needed to hold up a roof.
 

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You might try putting some linseed oil on the wood. Get it down into every crack and crevass. As the wood soaks it up, add another dressing. It will slow the drying for a bit, doesn't smell half bad either.
 

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chuckhole said:
I agree with Old Vet. The problem you are looking at is very likely to be cosmetic only.
I also agree, unless its a crack all the way through, I wouldn't be concerned.

Drying logs with the bark on, at least from my experience is a bad idea, unless you like bugs in your wood. Bugs love to live in the bark of fallen trees, and eventually live in the wood.
 

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you won't see any loss of support from this. having restored a few timber frames, we have not seen an issue like this that would cause us to not use a timber. you can band the wood to slow it if you like, but it is not necessary.

mark
 

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We have an old 100+ year barn with an oak center brace that has cracks that run from ground to 2nd story peak, some big enough to fit your hand into up to the base of the thumb. No loss of structural strength at all. Looks kinda scarey, but that's it, all cosmetic. No sign of anything ever being applied to the outside.

My boss just built a new log cabin that he had shipped in, A pre-cut high dollar jobber.
All of his support beams have checking, pinky deep.

So it's no fault in your situation, even the pro's can't stop a log from checking.
It's the nature of the beast, That's what logs do.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks Toads tool.That makes me feel a lot better.I am going to band it and seal it.Lot of good advice.
 
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