Keeping Checks in Check

The Southeastern Carver, Volume 1998 Issue 4

For quite some time now I have been attempting to carve a life size Great Blue Heron out of a slab of tupelo. Things have progressed to the point where the body and head were almost done and the long legs had been welded out of re-bar. Now it was time to find the base. A local north Georgia wood cutter was generous enough to donate a 18” diameter slab of red oak, about a foot thick. This would make dandy base and was heavy enough to anchor anything. After a morning of cleaning, de-barking and sanding I was ready to drill the holes to accept the legs. But before this could be accomplished I noticed small cracks in the surface. By the next day they had widened to a half inch and would eventually become an inch wide. What to do?

While pondering this turn of events I saw an ad for “PRESERVATION SOLUTIONS” in a wood carving magazine. I called, even though it was 11PM. To my surprise they answered. After a friendly discussion I was advised to soak the log in water until the checks closed up and then use “Pentacryl” wood treatment solutions to prevent a repeat. I did as directed and by the time my order of “Pentacryl” arrived the checks were gone. Pentacryl is a siliconized polymer originally developed to treat and stabilize water logged wood. It is offered to woodcarvers and wood turners to keep green wood from checking, cracking and splitting. I applied the Pentacryl, which is a heavy oily liquid, with a brush every day for two weeks until the log would accept no more. Then I let it dry. The water in the log has been replaced and the log will stay in its present shape indefinitely. Better yet the original weight has been regained and the Great Blue Heron can attain its intended perch someday.