Cracks/Split in 4x4 Wood
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Old 09-07-2013, 11:20 PM   #1
miaozer
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Cracks/Split in 4x4 Wood


Hey guys,

I'm building a fish tank stand for a 40g breeder and had some 4x4s cut at Home Depot yesterday.

I noticed this morning as I was sanding the wood that there are a lot of cracks and splits in the wood. Most of them run longitudinally or down the length of the wood. I do have one piece that has a crack that runs horizontally. These cracks extend maybe 1/4" into the wood. My main concern is that over time the cracks will spread and weaken the entire structure.

Is this wood is still usable to support 450-500lbs of weight? Is it natural for the wood to split like that after it is cut?

There definitely were NO splits or cracks in the wood before they cut it. These 4x4 pieces will be the pillars of the stand, so will take the majority of the weight.

I'm about to go back to Home Depot to ask those guys in the lumber department. If you guys know anything, please let me know. Thanks!





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Old 09-07-2013, 11:50 PM   #2
Lornek8
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It's pretty normal for the wood from HD or generally construction lumber as a whole to split. Moisture content in the wood can vary as you can feel when sorting it, some are heavier than others. As the wood dries it'll tend to split and/or warp. Once they reach an equilibrium moisture content they should stop cracking. They should still be strong, after all it no different when they go into a house. If you're worried go back to the store and pick out the straightest piece you can find that appears dense but at th same time on th lighter side. Also try to find pieces with straight grain and no knots. For pieces like 4x4 where you can see a good portion of the end, try to avoid pieces with the center of the tree in it, it shouldn't look like a bullseye.
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Old 09-07-2013, 11:56 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by miaozer View Post
Is this wood is still usable to support 450-500lbs of weight? Is it natural for the wood to split like that after it is cut?
Yes, and yes. Using 4x4's for a 40gal tank is total overkill (not that this is necessarily wrong). There are some stand designs made from 2x4's that can handle much heavier loads.
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Old 09-08-2013, 05:49 AM   #4
miaozer
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Thanks for the advice guys. I ended up going to Home Depot and they just recut a new set of 4x4s for me at no charge. The lumber
guy there told me that the drier the wood the better. So when searching for wood, choose the lightest piece of wood. The heavier the wood, the "wetter" it is and more likely it will split when it begins to dry.
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Old 09-09-2013, 04:17 AM   #5
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The lumber guy is espousing the corporate line. Wood splits occur more often than not during the drying process. It also can occur during storage especially if it's stored outside. Uneven drying can cause various types of warps and splits.

The lumber yard down the road here stores the wood under cover but outside. It has been raining here just about every afternoon. What do you think will happen if I buy that lumber and immediately cut it? Yup. It will cup, twist, bow and split. Wood needs to be acclimated for at least 24 hours before you use it. 48 is better.

I've also had wood that was at 12% MC that was heavier than an 18% piece. Wood is an organic hygroscopic material.

One other thing. The large cross section of 4 x 4 and larger makes it susceptible to splits. It's one of the reasons most woodworkers glue up smaller pieces to form the large cross sectional pieces.
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Old 09-10-2013, 03:51 AM   #6
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Most of the advice I've heard is to avoid using the 4x4's, as they are also really prone to twisting, and can warp and rack the stand after it's built.

You can get all the strength you need out of 2x4s and 2x3s, and Home Depot and Lowes usually have a kiln dried (though, I've seen some of those that were sopping wet) versions of those for ~$2 a piece. I also sort through the pile a bit to find ones that are already fairly straight, decent grain, nice cross section, etc.
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:31 AM   #7
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I just recently built my stand for my 40b, I didn't use 4x4's but it's still very overbuilt. 4x4's are hard to use when they are that short because they have no give. You can see the stand and the build in my 40b journal(link in signature). I had 600lbs worth of people jumping on it and it didn't budge.
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Old 09-10-2013, 04:56 AM   #8
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Each one of those 4x4 can take about 8000lbs in compression. Welcome to the overbuilt stand club.
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Old 09-10-2013, 02:33 PM   #9
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Each one of those 4x4 can take about 8000lbs in compression. Welcome to the overbuilt stand club.
Design wise I can see using large lumber. Put some nice decorative router work on it. Use mortise and tenon joints. Yeah I can see that. But I would never use a solid log like a 4 x. Glue it up with some decent wood. Even a poplar. And poplar, when stained correctly can look nice.
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