Cabinets, Furniture, Woodworks/Stair cracked

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Question
QUESTION: Our steps on our staircase consist of two pieces of oak with a piece of mahogany between the pieces of oak.  An 1/8 inch  crack has developed all the way across the piece of mahogany.  How do I fill in the crack so it matches the rest of the mahogany?  Thank  you,  Joe

ANSWER: Joe, usually the method is to use wood dough or mahogany sawdust mixed with woodworkers glue.  But the process would involve a lot of labor, especially when you sand it out and try to match the area sanded with the surrounding wood.  If I were you I would pick up a bottle of color putty by minwax that has the same matching color to your mahogany and rub it into the crack, buff it with a rag, then let dry for a couple of days.  Then you can spray/seal it with a can of polyurethane.  Less trouble and a simple fix.  Joseph

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: My description of my problem was not very good. Sorry.  The crack in the piece of mahogany actually is an 1/8 inch gap that goes all the way through the step for depth of 3/4 inch.  I don't know if this changes your response.  Thanks again, Joev

Answer
Joe, that does make a difference.  It sounds like you would need to glue and bar clamp them back together.  I would remove the Scotia under the nose of the tread and use a pry bar or chisel to lift the tread and break the glue joint with the stringers.  In may come out in two halves.  Then, using woodworker's yellow glue, glue both side of the split.  If it comes up as one piece then rub glue into the cracks.  You can also use an air hose to blow the glue deep into the crack.  Then, using a bar clamp, pull the pieces together.  I would use foam/rubber or something on the nosing end of the tread to keep it from getting damaged.  Also, keep a wet rag handy to wash off the squeezed out glue.  As long as you thoroughly wash out the squeezed glue, there will be less touch up.  Once dry the glue joint will be stronger than the wood around it and you can re-install the tread.  You make want to sand it out with 120 grit sandpaper and reapply the finish as needed.  This is a lot more work, but the results for a split tread is a strong joint that will no longer crack.  Joseph

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Joseph G. Swallow

Expertise

I can answer all staircase balustrade questions where handrails, newels posts, balusters (wood and metal), and stair treads are concerned. I cannot help with cabinetry and floor (outside of stair-related treads and risers), as well as stain and finish issues unless staircase related.

Experience

30 years in the stair industry. Founder of Hardwood Creations in Southern California and CEO of Westfire Manufacturing, Inc. I was a stair builder for 10 years, both in custom and production housing. Have estimated over 750,000 single family homes and provided materials to lumber yards and builders for 12 years. Was an expert witness in several staircase related law suits in Southern California. Stair codes, installation help, stair handrail and balustrade installation are what I know best.

Organizations
NAHB of Portland, OR. Was a member of ICBO for 9 years.

Education/Credentials
Cal State Fullerton, Cypress College

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