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What Should I Do About The ‘Crack’ In My Beam?

Asked by Hugh on January 24, 2017

Shakes in an oak beam?  I an 100% sure that my beam is fine.  My wife is scared of the ‘crack’ it has on one side.  Is there a resin/glue I can inject into the shake that will stick it back together on the inside?  This will make us both happy.

Answered by Doug Friant

Hi Hugh,

Chances are it is nothing to worry about. Shake is different than checking, and usually not found in oak. “Cracks” are often confused with “Checks”. A check is a crack in a timber that stops at the heart of the beam that is caused by shrinkage of the sap wood around the heartwood. A crack or split that goes right through the beam is a concern. If your check is just on one side of the beam, it is fine. This page, which I wrote years ago, has a very good explanation:  https://www.vermonttimberworks.com/learn/wood-textures/shake-checking/

Oak is very prone to shrinkage and checking, but all of the engineering calculations take checking into account. So if your frame was engineered properly, you probably have nothing to worry about. Injecting glue or resin into the check will do nothing, so I don’t recommend it. If your wife is really concerned, or if it looks like a joint is coming apart, or if there is a structural failure of some sort, you should have a structural engineer have a look and make a definitive determination.

Good luck,


1 comment
  1. Anil says:

    I want to refurbish my oak furniture my wife and I bought oak furniture when we got married. I need to restrain and revarnish but I am not sure of the procedure.this oak furniture is 22 years old and its solid oak.please advice.

    Best wishes

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