Question: A recent storm left a large tree limb in our yard. I’d like to slice cross sections for plaques and trivets.

How do I keep the slices from splitting as they dry?

Answer: Pentacryl wood preservative is an excellent product made for this very purpose. A slice of wood will always split because, as it dries, the cells collapse and wither just like a dry sponge. This stress from contraction literally pulls the disk apart, usually resulting in a single, nasty split that rims from the bark edge toward the pith.

Pentacryl reinforces the cells so they retain their shape as they dry. As a result, very little stress builds up in the wood and cracks rarely occur. Pentacryl is nontoxic and is compatible with any kind of finish.

Here are a few tips about making plaques, cross-cut sections from Dale, the technical person at Preservation Solutions, which makes Pentacryl.

  • To keep the bark edge on a slab, cut the wood during the winter.
  • Wood that has been outside, especially in winter, should be brought to room temperature before you apply Pentacryl.
  • Completely saturate the wood with Pentacryl by soaking or brushing it on.
  • After treatment, the wood must be allowed to dry evenly. Make sure it is exposed to air on all sides.
  • Don’t hurry the drying by adding heat or air movement.

Article from American Woodworker, March, 2005, Q&A Section

See Our Step-By-Step DIY Guide for Wood Cookies, Plaques, Wedding Cake Platters & Coasters