Wood Bowl Crack Fix Secrets – Woodturning Repairing Cracks

Wood Bowl Crack Fix Secrets

It’s hard to think of anything other than a wood bowl crack as a wood bowl turner’s number one enemy. A wood bowl crack appearance can make grown men cry and draw attention away from an otherwise perfectly turned wood bowl.

To prevent and repair cracks in wood turned bowls, we need to understand better what is causing the cracks to form.

Put simply, change is what causes cracks.

More specifically, uneven change causes a wood bowl to crack. Anytime temperature, humidity, or internal moisture content changes, there’s a good chance there are internal structural changes that will take place inside the wood cells, fibers and grain.

It’s imperative as wood turners that we pay attention to these conditions and show our respect as much as possible. When we don’t, our beautiful bowls suffer the consequences.

Wood Bowl Crack Prevention

As they say, “An ounce of prevention keeps bowl cracks to a minimum,” or something like that. So what are we trying to prevent? Uneven, abrupt or excessive wood movement essentially is what we’re trying to prevent.

Wood movement occurs from a few major factors: internal stress, moisture content and temperature changes.

Let’s dive right in and start by covering ways to reduce all of these factors and greatly reduce the chance cracks will visit our bowls.

Length Matters

The length of green wood logs prepared for bowl blanks does make a difference. Even with the additional preventive measures, we will discuss below, there will be some checks and cracks on the ends of the rough-cut bowl blanks. Cutting logs longer than needed will provide excess waste material on the ends of the log that can be trimmed away later.

The length to add to a log will depend on the overall diameter of the log. In general, it’s good to add at least six inches to the log diameter to determine the cutting length.

For example, if a log is 10 inches in diameter, cut the lengths 16 inches long. The extra length leaves about three inches of wood that can crack and check on both ends.

When the time comes to turn the log, simply saw off an inch or so from one end. Look at the newly exposed cut area. Are there still cracks? If so, trim off another inch and check, again. Once no cracks appear, do the same trimming on the other end of the log. Now you have a crack-free log to begin turning.

Half the Trouble

When preparing green wood bowl blanks, it’s critical to get the full round logs split in half as soon as possible. This one step removes a great deal of tangential pressure caused by the inner growth rings and the fact that they are unevenly sized.

The inner rings at the pith of a log are under much more pressure than the outer rings. As the whole round log ages, the outer diameter of the log loses moisture faster than the interior, thereby causing increased tension.

How Cracks Form Wood Logs Bowl Blank Prevention

Watch the Pith

Some people swear the pith CANNOT be in the bowl or the whole thing will blow apart. While this can be true, it’s also possible to leave the pith on the bowl walls, and everything turns out fine.

The particular wood species and how the bowl is created and dried later will greatly determine if the pith will or won’t crack and deform.

At a minimum, the pith will usually stretch and pull away from the turned shape of the bowl as it dries, making the bowl more elliptical than round.

If the pith is something with which you’d rather not take a chance, by all means, avoid it. Cut away any wood that is within the inner circle surrounding the pith. This distance may only be a quarter inch on a small log or several inches around the pith on a larger log.

Either way, I would encourage you to experiment with the pith being left in a bowl or two and try this with different types of wood just to see what happens. You might be surprised.

Wood Bowl Pith Area Movement Intact

Loose Ends

When a log has been cut to the proper length and split in half, that’s a great way to store green logs for a longer period. But before they get tucked away, it’s best to seal the end grain.

Think of the log as a straight linear bundle of long drinking straws. The ends of the straws correspond to the end grain of the log. The fibers run lengthwise through the log much like the drinking straws. And like those straws, the wood’s end grain has small openings allowing moisture to move in and out quickly and easily.

Because of this physical property, the ends of the log will lose moisture content much faster than any other part of the log. The best way to counter this is to seal the end grains with Anchorseal (check current price on Amazon).

Take an inexpensive chip brush (Amazon link) and slather a liberal coating of Anchorseal on each end, covering all the end grain. I also will put a small path along the flat cut edge near the ends to make sure all the end grains are sealed.


Wood storage plays a big factor in how it will later behave. If you’ve been following along, you understand we want “no sudden movements,” literally. So the storage area you select should continue along these lines.

Green wood storage is a tricky area, because what works for me might not work for you based on your local temperature, humidity, and climate.

So instead of giving some blanket answer, let’s think about what is needed. If the wood is green, wet or has any moisture, it needs to lose that moisture slowly. Or rather IT IS going to lose that moisture. It’s our job to slow that process and make it as gradual and even as possible.

In general, cool, not overly dry, dark (or at a minimum no direct sunlight) spaces will slow this drying process. While I can stack wood along a wall in a very open barn outside where I live in a humid area, that practice will create splintered bowl blanks in the harsh dryness along the Rockies. There, it might be necessary to have a humidified space to store wood, such as a cool basement.

Remember the basics: no direct sunlight, no harsh temperature or humidity changes and avoid excessive air movement. Simple enough, right? Ha!

Wood Bowl Crack Forming Natural Elements Enemies
Wood Bowl Crack Forming Natural Elements Enemies

Get It Done Quicker

Once a bowl blank is mounted to the lathe, it’s a good idea to complete the piece, exterior and interior, as soon as possible. I’ve seen people spend weeks working on the same piece, only to have massive cracks appear midway through the turning.

Why does this happen? The newly turned areas exposed to the elements change unevenly. Usually, the outside of the bowl is fine at first, but the added forces within the bowl’s still solid moist interior are under their original pressure and continue pushing and pulling. The newly exposed area is losing moisture content much quicker than the solid interior, and those internal forces usually manifest as cracks on the outside of the bowl.

It’s important to turn the wood bowl within a reasonable timeframe to prevent these internal forces from ruining a bowl. The bowl needs to be completed more quickly when there is more water content in the bowl blank. A tremendous amount of the wood’s internal pressures are removed when the interior of the bowl is turned away and removed.

If a bowl cannot be completed promptly, inside and out, consider wrapping it in plastic and possibly spritzing it with water first to slow the drying of the outside bowl walls.

Nice and Even

Unevenly turned bowl walls are another contributing factor for the production of bowl cracks. When an area of a wood turned bowl is thick in one area and thinner in another, the two areas dry and move differently. When those movements oppose one another, cracks can form.

Try to turn the bowl to a uniform wall thickness throughout. The base also needs to be turned to a similar thickness as the walls. A thick solid base under a thin-walled bowl will dry much slower than the side walls, usually causing issues.

Wood Bowl Crack Oak Base Too Thick

Avoid the Heat

Once a bowl has been evenly turned, it’s time to sand. Be aware that sanding at too high of a speed can cause heat buildup. If either the lathe or a power sander, or both, are turning too quickly, they will produce excess friction and heat. Moisture is lost more quickly when the wood bowl surface is heated, which can cause cracks to form.

Heat-related cracking is especially true with thin-walled forms and bowls. Slow down the lathe and the power sander and only work for short times in a given area to reduce heat buildup.

An even better approach, although one that makes many people cringe, is to hand sand the final turned wooden bowl.

Bag Green

Once a bowl, which is made with green or moist wood, is complete and off the lathe, the drying process needs to be controlled. Again, the control that is needed is usually to slow the drying process. A great way to slow the drying time is to bag the finished wood bowl.

Before you sweep the floor, grab several handfuls of those moist shavings from the bowl that was just made. Place a shallow bed of shavings in a brown paper grocery bag, then add the new bowl. Fill around and inside the bowl also with those shavings and loosely close the bag.

Store the bagged bowl away in a cool dark place that’s not too dry or moist. Usually, a space indoors at similar conditions to where the final bowl may be displayed is ideal. After all, the wood needs to acclimate to the space where it will eventually live.

Wood Bowl Crack Paper Bag Slow Drying Prevention

There it is! A fine wood bowl crack line appears along the edge of your beautiful bowl. What to do? Even with taking all the preventative measures covered, cracks can occur. If a wood bowl crack appears, don’t fear. There are several options for recovery available.

Fissure Filling

Small bowl cracks can easily be repaired and mitigated. This process is simple and will also help to reduce telltale stains around the crack.

To complete this task, you’ll need a good quality CA super thin glue, CA accelerator and a Clear Spray Lacquer (Amazon links check current prices). Don’t worry, the spray lacquer is only acting as a mask and will be sanded off later when the bowl is completed.

Lacquer is a film finish that sits on top of the wood and once sanded off; it will not limit any final finishes you choose to use. The purpose of first using lacquer is to prevent the CA from staining the wood immediately around the wood bowl crack.

This process is best done while the bowl is still on the lathe before final sanding and finishing. Here are the steps to correctly fill a small to medium wood bowl crack and prevent them from growing.

  1. Spray around the wood bowl crack with lacquer, then let dry a few minutes.
  2. Pack very fine sawdust into the crack.
  3. Using the fine tip provided, drip super thin CA into the crack.
  4. Rub fine sawdust over crack.
  5. Spray crack area with CA accelerator.
  6. Continue turning or finish sanding area smooth.
Wood Bowl Crack Repair CA Lacquer Steps


Celebrate the crack! It’s natural, after all, and nothing is perfect. Some cracks look amazing and can be left “as is,” adding unique character to a gorgeous wood turned bowl.

If you’d like to fill, instead of look through a crack, there are many decorative and colorful powders available to highlight the wood bowl crack area. There are even turquoise chips and metal powders that can be used for this step.

If the crack is small, the same steps can be used from above, substituting the colored filler for the sawdust.

Larger areas may require an epoxy mix to fill the entire area. A dam on one side of the bowl can be made by applying tape to cover the cracked area.

Mix the Two-Part, Five-Minute Epoxy (check Amazon for current price) according to the product instructions in a portion large enough for the given wood bowl crack area. While mixing the epoxy parts, add the color mix and then apply the mixture to the cavity.

Let the colored epoxy dry according to the epoxy manufacturer’s details. Again, this step is best done before the bowl is complete, so the repaired area can be further turned and sanded to the desired finish.

If the repair area is large or if you’re interested in creating new material to turn, try the Alumilite Casting Epoxy (check Amazon for current pricing). Alumilite can also be colorized and then sanded after it has dried.

Hickory Bowl Crack Filled With Turquoise Epoxy
Hickory Bowl Crack Filled With Turquoise Epoxy

Architectural Reinforcement

Let’s face it, some cracks become way bigger than originally thought acceptable. But before you turn that bowl into a piece of fancy luxury firewood, consider reinforcing architecture.

Depending upon the bowl and your taste, many things can be done that both transform a “crack” into a “design decision” and make the piece more structurally sound at the same time. Not only can these structures be practical, but they can also be quite creative.

Stitch up a seam by drilling holes parallel to each other on opposite sides of the crack. Using string, leather or wire, stitch the crack up. It doesn’t need to be drawn tight or closed to have a supporting and striking visual effect.

Butterfly joints can be applied as well. Often used in furniture construction, butterfly, or bow tie, joints can be hand chiseled and inlaid into the bowl across the crack area. The dovetail shape of this inlay will hold the crack as is and not allow it to continue to grow, all the while appearing somewhat planned and deliberate.

Wood Bowl Crack Fix Secrets

There you have it, 12 tricks for preventing and repairing cracks. When making wood turned bowls, we need to remember we’re working with a beautiful natural resource: wood. It is not, nor was it ever intended to be, perfect. That is nature.

We can do as much as possible to avoid a wood bowl crack, and deal with them when they do appear, but after all is said and done, cracks happen. I guess it’s all in how we look at them that makes the difference.

How do you deal with wood bowl cracks? Leave me a comment below.

– For details of equipment mentioned in this article see my Recommended Equipment Guide.

Dealing with wood bowl cracks? Reads these articles also:

Happy Turning,

65 Responses

  1. Hi Kent: I work with polymer clay which, because of its versatility can be be incorporated with a number of other mediums. I recently purchased what I consider to be a beautiful old 18” dia. bowl. It is very dry with a few hairline fissures and one very large crack which has reached the half way point at the bottom of the bowl. My hope is that I can add some architectural element to it, as you mentioned drilling holes on either side of the crack and using a tie to bind it (I plan on using hammered copper wire). I will apply a ‘skin’ of polymer clay on the outside of the bowl and on the inside I would love to enhance the beautiful stained patina that shows its history. Now for the question! How do I stop the crack from spreading and how do I add moisture back into the wood? I will have to cure the clay once it is applied so I will be putting the bowl in the oven (290 F) for about an hour. Sorry for the long explanation. Would love to send you photos.

    1. Lyn,
      Thank you for writing and sharing!
      Why! That’s a loaded question. LOL
      I’m guessing this bowl is final turned? If so, any moisture in the piece can effect the movement of the wood. I would make sure the wood is equalized first before anything else. I would say use wood glue to stabilize the crack, but it sounds like you want to feature the crack, so I would then say just let the crack do its thing. Equalize the bowl before subjecting it to the oven drying process. The oven step might make some quick, unwanted changes in the bowl. Once the wood is equalized then add or do whatever you’d like. We cover this in more detail in my Green Wood Course – http://www.TurnAWoodBowl.com/green
      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  2. Tambem costumo fazer esse procedimento, mas ao inves de verniz uso seladora, ou as vezes coloco fita adesiva na borda das rachaduras quando isso é possível , quando não faço isso por desleixo tenho que ficar lixando mais tempo e com lixas de grão 40 ou 50 que danifica um pouco a madeira e fica com uma certa depressão no local.
    Mestre Kent muito obrigado pelos seus ensinamentos porque para mim este é o site mais informativo para quem aprecia girar madeira.

    1. [I also usually do this procedure, but when inves varnish use seaseal, or sometimes I put adhesive tape on the edge of cracks when this is possible, when I do not do it by slouch I have to sand more time and with grain sandpaper 40 or 50 that damages a little wood and gets a certain depression in place. Master Kent thank you very much for your teachings because for me this is the most informative site for those who enjoy turning wood.]

      Thank you for writing and sharing! I’m glad you enjoy this information! Thank you for your support.
      I imagine you have access to some amazing timbers in Brazil. I hope the forests are being treated well there.
      Keep up the good work!
      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  3. My best defense against a crack: Be patient. Let the wood blank dry very slowly with end grain sealed, and in a controlled atmosphere. Weigh it on a postage scale once a month. When it stops losing weight, time to turn.

    My best “cure” for a crack: Fill it as you described with CA and sawdust, but substitute coffee grounds instead. Accents the crack beautifully but looks very natural. Also works well with “holes” opened up from turning punky wood. Fill open holes with small glued-in chunks of wood that flew out when turning, then “chink” with the CA and coffee grounds. Finish turning, and expect something striking from an item that looked headed for the trash bin.

    1. Sounds like good advice and an interesting idea with the coffee grounds. I like it!
      Thank you for writing and sharing! All the best to you and Happy Turning!

    1. Hm? I’m not sure what a giggle saw is? Just looked it up. Interesting. Yes, you can clean and open a crack, especially if the area has ripped loose fibers. Happy Turning!

  4. Hi there! First let me say thank you for all of your articles you have posted!!!! I have learned so much from you already, and haven’t even met you! I can’t walk past a fallen tree or chunk of wood without stopping to look at it, thinking of what the grain would look like in a bowl! I am 3 months into turning now, still have a lot to learn, but I refuse to give up and each bowl is better than the previous one.. it’s so bad that my family think I’m obsessed with wood and turning. I think I am now, thank you for the info on making my own bowl blanks…my son’s had to cut down 5 or more trees in their yards…maple and mostly cherry, and a box elder,and can’t forget the root balls!!!! I can’t wait to get into those….thanks to you, I know how to cut the bowl blanks now. Please keep up your articles, they are appreciated!

    1. Lori,

      That’s Fantastic! Thank you for writing and sharing!

      You are on the right track if your family thinks you’re obsessed! LOL

      I lose sleep thinking about turning trees like you just described. 😉

      Enjoy the process. All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  5. I have just started turning and have found your videos and articles incredible useful. Regarding cracks I have a small bowl that I turned from some black walnut that had some cracks in the log and once turned the cracks became more prominent. I am planning on filling the cracks with an epoxy but is it better to wait a little while for the bowl to dry further before filling the cracks or should I fill the cracks as soon as possible after turning?

    1. Good question. I usually wait until I’m down to the last couple of cutting passes before applying filler to cracks. Then I can make the finishing cuts and the crack area is level with the rest of the piece. Epoxy and most glues are harder to sand, so cutting them with the last few cuts is the easiest way to make them smooth.

      1. I had lots of cracks develop in a Black Walnut knitting bowl I turned because I erroneously turned it as a tall (7″) bowl with the base too thick and the walls thinner, Voila: cracks, some quite deep and long. The tenon has already been removed so sanding away on the lathe the epoxy used to repair the cracks is not an option. I guess I will make the repairs using epoxy, a blue tape “dam”, maybe some coloring. Then I’ll just have to hand sand it? When I hand-sand the repairs (‘m planning on using my powered sander with progressive 2″ sanding disks. Any other tips? Thank you Kent for all you’re doing to promote the turning craft!

        1. Mike,
          It sounds like you have learned a ton for this turning. You have a couple of options, repair this one or spend the time turning a second piece now with the knowledge you just gained.
          I’ve seen people spend countless hours trying to save a piece when they could have turned 4 or 5 new ones. Remember, like most everything else, you will get better exponentially faster each time you repeat the process.
          The question to ask is, Do you want to learn to turn or repair? 😉
          All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  6. Kent, I wish that I could have ran across this article five years ago. It would have saved untold hours of frustration and many,many bowls. I had around seventy logs given to me plus thirty from home. I knew nothing about preserving nor preparing them. About twenty varieties of great woods. I got some bad advice from well meaning sources and lost a lot of very good wood. I managed to get around fifteen hundred bowl blanks but probably lost just as many. Thanks for your article- I will certainly pay it forward. BTW I have only been turning for five years. Just now beginning to venture into segmented turnings.

    1. Roy,

      Thanks for writing and sharing.

      Wow, that’s a ton (many tons) of woods. Sorry, this info was too late but glad you have it now.

      I’m sure you gained must knowledge about those blanks in the process as well.

      All the best to you and Happy Turning!

  7. Good Day Kent

    I have collected a complete apple tree with blanks uo to 12 inches diameter still in good shapes but also with branches logs having diameters ranging from 4 to 6 inches, about 12 inches long. Some of those branches cracked open on the length with openings up to half an inch on the outside reaching the core, with radius of about 3 to 4 inches. I have seen videos where turners immerge weird burls blanks into resin to complete the voids, then turning them. I want to turn those branches, possibly end grain as well as side grain. Is immerging the logs in resin a safe and proper method to consolidate a cracked blank? Sorry with the quality of my english writing, and thanks in advance for your answer.

    1. Alain,

      Yes, you can use resin to aid in this process. You will want to also use a pressure pot to apply pressure or a vacuum in order to force the resin into all the cracks. I’m in theprocess of researching these avenues and will have more in the months to come. Stay tuned.

  8. If the lacquer acts as a mask to prevent the CA from getting into surrounding wood (and thus preventing staining) wouldn’t it also prevent the wood dust and CA from getting into the crack? IE, wouldn’t the lacquer seal the crack also? thx, jim

    1. Jim,
      Good question. No, the lacquer just provides a thin mask for the top wood surface. Once the CA is applied, that layer is easily sanded away.

    2. What prevents the lacquer from entering the crack and hindering the CA glue bonding inside the crack ?

  9. Hi Kent, I’m new to this craft so I’m still a wood butcher as opposed to a wood turne r. I spend a lot of time watching you on my big screen smart TV and at the risk of being redundant you are an extraordinary teacher. This area of removing moisture seems to take too much time (I’m impatient) so while learning from all the TV time, I ran across a demonstration whereby the use of a vacuum pump to dehydrate the wood was used. Could you tell me the reason for the absence of this method in your presentation. Once again I think you
    offer a thorough and detailed learning experience. Thank you. Anthony C.

    1. Anthony,

      I must be honest, I have never heard of a vacuum pump being used to dehydrate wood. I’m sure it can work, but I would guess moisture deep in the cells of the wood will take some time to release moisture. I’ll keep an eye out for this method.

      Thanks for sharing,

  10. Hi, great article and I always appreciate you graphic designer background in you posts :).
    Just wanted to mention that while I don’t know what exactly is in CA glue accelerator, water works great too. Just use up the accelerator and fill the bottle with water.
    It’s been a while since I tried this trick, so if I’m forgetting some inequality, please let me know.
    Thanks for producing such a great resource.

    1. Hello Raif,

      Thanks for sharing this tip.

      I will try it out.

      I hope the glue companies haven’t been selling us water in a spray bottle as an accelerator all this time. LOL

      But, if it works. Shrug. 😉

      Thank you!

      Happy Turning,

    2. CA glue is dangerous with excelator….. The fumes went through my mask….and after using it several days on a projecy I had a stroke.

      1. Craig,

        Thanks for writing and I’m sorry to hear about your experience with CA.

        Let this be a lesson for all of us to learn. Use CA in well-ventilated locations and follow all the warnings and guidelines.

        Take care Craig and all the best to you,

        1. Cyanoacrylate- CA glue. The cyano part of the name stands for cyanide. Please keep this in mind when deciding what precautions to take while using it.

          1. My CA glue always starts smoking and burns the eyes and nose. Even thru a mask. Is this normal ? It is called HOT CA glue. It’s all I can find where I live

            1. Mark,

              Yes, CA can do that. I’d recommend using less and stand away from it after it’s been applied. Also, be sure to ventilate the area well. Happy Turning!

  11. I have wood I have let dry for three yrs. black walnut anything i should do or just turn
    Duane Stiles

    1. Hello Duane,

      I would say, just turn a piece or two and see how it performs. You may still find a bit of moisture inside, but the wood should be pretty stable at this point. Hopefully, it has not dried too much cracked inside.

      Experimentation is the best way to learn.

      Happy Turning,

  12. Hi Kent – This is the first article of yours I’ve read and I can guarantee it will not be the last! It is very well written, not only for the beginner, but the advanced woodturner. I am the President of the Ozark Woodturners Club that serves Northern and Central Arkansas and we have a membership of just over 60 members. It is my intention, with your blessing, to offer this article to the membership either in our newsletter or as a demonstration at one of our meetings. Thank you for the time and effort it takes to write this article (and others), I know it is quite an undertaking and much appreciated!

    1. Hello Darcie,

      Thank you for writing and for your kind words.

      Yes, you may use the information found here for your club newsletter and demo. Please follow the usage guidelines found here > https://turnawoodbowl.com/artwork-usage/

      Please include me on your email list.

      Happy Turning,

  13. Your article is very informative but alas, I’m no wood worker. I have an 18″ tall segmented wood vase and a maple big leaf bowl that were both damaged in shipment. Both are unique enough that I’d like to have them repaired. Can you advise appropriate vendors, or how/where to find them?

    1. Craig,

      I can only recommend finding a local woodworker or maybe someone skilled at a cabinet shop/ I hope that helps.

  14. I’ve been turning bowls for 60 years, and I still learn something every time I read one of your posts. They are beyond excellent. I finally got past the idea that every bowl has to be perfect thanks to you.

    Thank you for sharing your skill.

    1. Charlie,

      I don’t know what to say except that is one heck of a compliment! Thank you!!!

      Happy Turning and Enjoy,

    2. As many here in this comment section have attested to, we are very experienced and long in the tooth. brings to mind the ole adage: “Too soon old; too late smart.” Long ago, I too gave up on perfection, deciding instead to focus on excellence. What a relief! hahaha

  15. I am plagued with hair line cracks is some of my woods, especially Walnut. I have just read your article on Fissure Filling and plan to try it tomorrow. I have tried the CA thin, but end up with stains. When I sand the stains out, I am back to the cracks. The Clear Lacquer Spray makes sense, if it works. But I am will to try it. This wood is too beautiful to give up on.

    I do not turn my bowls. I use Arbortech tools that allow me to maintain the outer shape of the wood/log.

    1. Hello Linsay,

      Thank you for your comment and question.

      It sounds like you may need to get the filling element, dust or whatever you are using, farther down into the crack before you apply the CA.

      There is another trick too, which I will be writing about soon. You can apply a small bead of wood glue (I recommend Titebond II) and work it down into the crack, then wipe the surface quickly. Immediately begin sanding across the crack with the grain of the wood, with 120 to 180 grit sandpaper, until the glue skins up and is coated with a fine layer of wood dust. Let the glue dry thoroughly overnight. If the crack areas settle a bit, either sand more or add another layer of the wood glue sanding trick.

      Let me know if that works.


    2. Great article Kent. I have only been turning about 18 months and it is teaching me patience plus I have been meeting some great friends. First article I have read on properly using ca glue. I have also used Milliput with great success after a couple of failures. Keep the articles coming
      Dan frsm Schoharie NY

      1. Dan,

        Thank you for writing!

        I’m glad you like this technique.

        Please tell us a bit more about how you use Milliput? Do you dry it in the cracks and then sand it? How does it work?

        Happy Turning,

  16. Hello Kent, devastated here when I found the amazing bowl I just purchased from my Rasta friend in Jamaica, arrived home with 2 cracks! Housewarming gift for my son & wife! It is cedar, high sheen, one crack is hairline visible to the eye not touch (the old “vintage china check for cracks with eyes closed test). 2nd crack is eye and touch, actually raised a bit, pinhole and it goes from the outer edge then through a knot and continues downward. Guessing that’s not good? Rastas on the beach called me Mrs Jack Sparrow when I set it atop my head, it’s actually quite mid-century modern in shape. From your wonderful article perhaps this beauty had a double whammy of temperature change and baggage handlers!
    Yes, looking for your help please before I try anything. Thanks and Best, Peggy

    1. Hello Peggy,

      Oh, I can imagine your frustration.

      OK, you may be in luck. From what I’m reading the piece is not separated but just cracked. If this is the case, you can start repairing it by using very thin CA glue, here’s a link. This glue will run right into the finest cracks and bond them together. Hold the piece together with a little pressure and apply the CA. You may want to experiment with this technique on a small area that isn’t as visible, perhaps the bottom area first.

      If the finish is lacquer, it can be repaired by likely sanding the glued crack area and applying new lacquer. Lacquer will soften earlier lacquer layers and bond with them. If the finish is a polyurethane, the wood might need to be sanded down completely before reapplying finish. If the thin CA holds the crack solid and is not visible you may be ok just gluing the piece.

      Let me know if this helps.

      Thanks for commenting and I wish you luck,

      PS – and yes, if the baggage handlers weren’t involved it could have occurred due to temperature and moisture content change inside the wood.

  17. I just carved a bowl from cedar ad it was beautiful. I started oiling it with butcher block oil but before I got enough coats on it the bowl cracked on one side from the rim to almost the middle of the bowl. Would I be able to soak it to close the crack? I saw the post above about the grandmother’s bowl but would it hurt a newly carved bowl?

    1. You can try soaking the bowl. Unfortunately, there are too many variables for me to guess what will or won’t work. Also soaking the wood with oil will also help to revive the wood. Either way, the crack will remain. You might want to try to glue the gap before applying oil. Use a good quality wood glue. Press it down into the crack thoroughly and then sand the crack with sandpaper before the glue dries. The sanding will smooth the gap and fill the glue with color matching dust.

  18. I have an old wooden bowl that my grandmother used to make biscuits. It was passed around. I finally got it about a yr ago. It has a large crack about halfway through the length of the bowl. I would like to repair it to use for decoration. I have heard of soaking the wood/bowl to make the wood more flexible. Can you give me some guidance? Thanks in advance.

    1. Rebecca,

      Thank you for sharing the story of your grandmother’s wood bowl. I must say, I have not restored an old bowl, but I can share some ideas. I think soaking in water might be too extreme. The wood is probably dried out, but water might be more harmful than good. Consider using a good quality Danish Oil (I have one listed in the Recommended Finishes section) and simply wipe it on the wood generously. If the wood is truly dry it should soak up each coat at first. Allow several hours and or days for each coat to be completely absorbed. Once the wood stays saturated on the surface, the wood fibers have then been filled with the Danish Oil. This will rejuvenate the wood cells and appearance.

      Especially if the bowl is for decoration, consider cutting butterfly inserts. These are small bowtie-shaped pieces of wood that are placed across the crack and inlaid into the bowl. They are both functional and decorative.

      Let me know if these ideas help and I’d love to see the bowl before and after. Thanks again and good luck restoring your heirloom bowl.

  19. The lacquer idea works but so does shellac. I make a solution of shellac diluted 1 to 10using denatured alcohol and keep it in a spray bottle. Before using the CA glue, I spray the piece with the diluted shellac. I spray it generously often covering the whole piece because the glue tends to drip and can drip anywhere. If the glue gets on an area that has not been sprayed, it will stain the wood. I learned this technique from Steven Hatcher when doing inlay work.

  20. I like the suggestion of spray lacquer before applying the CA. Does that not also coat the inside of the crack, which would inhibit the adhesion of the CA when you drizzle it into the crack with the sawdust?

    1. Great question! I’ve had no trouble with the filled crack not adhering. When spraying I simply make a quick pass across the surface. I’m guessing very little or no lacquer makes it in the crack.

  21. Hi everyone years ago I helped a guy whi was foreman at Fechters in Knysna tgey made the most beautiful wooden furniture uncle Laurie always had a cloth which he dipped in parraffin and everytime he turned a bit he will just hold the cloth lightly to run over the piece you have done it never cracks this way. I bought a small Unimat set from Germany I want to start making dolls house furniture. Hold thumbs because I have to teach myself. Blessings Anette von Mollendorff

  22. Merci pour ce documentaire , qui va etre un outil de travail ,moi qui commence dans le tournage sur bois et qui veut faire des bols

    1. You’re welcome! Yes, the lacquer does a good job reducing the CA stains. It will depend a bit on the type of wood and dryness, but in general, I’ve found it works well. Happy turning!

  23. this is really appreciated information, I love it and thank you very much for this. I only started this hobby in late December 2017 and have already created around a dozen bowls segmented and natural among other things. I am loving my new hobby and have set up my 8 foot by 6 foot workshop with, (I think), all the tools I need to do justice to the things I make. Getting back to the subject of cracks I have ha one or two bowls that have had cracks appear and have used ca glue and sawdust to fix them but not always to my satisfaction, after reading your fixes I’m sure things will only get better. Thank you very much indeed.

    1. Thanks Ron! Glad to hear you’re enjoying wood bowl turning. I hope this article provides some useful information as you continue.

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Hi, I’m Kent

Hi! I’m Kent, a husband, dad, papa, graphic designer, photographer, artist, traveler, birder, dark chocolate lover and I’m addicted to turning wood bowls! Learn more about me, see the online courses I made for you, and join our group on Facebook. Ready for your wood bowl adventure? Click here to Get Started

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