End checks are a common problem
when drying wood. These cracks form
on the ends of lumber because the
ends are drying out faster and shrinking more than the middle.
The secret to keeping lumber from
checking on the ends is simple and logical – force the ends to dry out at the
same speed as the rest of the board,
meaning slow down the drying on the
ends. Unfortunately, there is no single,
100 percent effective, way to do this.
The default method for beginners
is to paint the ends with latex paint.
Latex paint will not stop end checking
because it is just too permeable. It will
make you feel good, like you are doing
something useful, but that’s about it.
Beyond latex paint is wax, which is
waterproof and forms a barrier to keep
water from moving out of the end. However, it is hard to get hot wax on the end
of a lot of lumber in a timely fashion.
The application issue has been
addressed by wax and water emulsion
products made for coating the ends to
help prevent end checking. However,
these products aren’t cheap. I usually
save them for only the best lumber and
species most prone to checking, like
high-quality, flat-sawn white oak. It
must be applied to freshly sawn lumber
before the end checks have started to
Lumber is stacked on wide sticks to allow
air flow for drying.
How to stop end checking in lumber
By Scott Wunder