Turn a Cracked Wooden Stump into a Feature
Do you have a gorgeous chunk of wood that’s developed this huge crack? It may have started out as a hairline fracture and then, bam overnight it’s this big gaping wound that destroys the piece. It happens to us quite often and instead of throwing our wooden creations out, I decided to embrace the flaw and apply the ancient Japanese art of Kintsugi. But instead of using gold, I went all rustic and used leather cord to turn a cracked wooden stump into a décor worthy feature.
Doesn’t it look like it was always meant to be that way?
I’m really passionate about wood. It doesn’t matter if it’s still in its raw state or if a unicorn spat on it, I love it.
Each piece tells a different story, but it’s so frustrating when a gorgeous piece starts cracking……
and this crack in our wooden stump ran deep 🙁
So why does wood crack?
Wood is a living breathing organism and even after it’s been cut down it still reacts with the environment around it, which is how those awful cracks form. To understand why wood cracks we need to look deep inside the tree. Right at the center, we have the pith. That’s the tree’s original essence. It’s what remains of that tentative, flexible little sapling that grew extremely quickly, drank lots of water, and could bend with the wind. As the sapling matures it starts adding layers of real wood around itself. These layers are called sapwood which contains cells (xylem) that move water and other nutrients up the tree. Think of them as the tree’s drinking straws. As more and more layers form, the sapwood turns to heartwood and the pith starts decaying and dying. It becomes soft and porous.
And that’s where the problem starts. While the tree is growing, it’s constantly shrinking and expanding to regulate its water intact. As soon as you chop a branch off or cut the tree down, it immediately starts shrinking and losing water. And it loses the most water towards the outside where the sapwood is. Coz that’s where all those drinking straws are. And not only does the water evaporate out of the sapwood drinking straws, but that very porous, sponge-like pith in the middle also goes into overdrive and sucks water from the heartwood and sapwood layers too. It’s a double whammy, and you end up with a piece of wood that pulls itself apart as the water get’s sucked out.
How to prevent cracks
There are a few things you can do to try to minimize cracks. As soon as you cut the wood, seal the ends with oil paint, hot wax, or boiled linseed oil. Since most of the moisture is lost through the end grain, sealing the cut ends helps prevent cracks from forming.
If you don’t want ugly painted ends or shudder at the thought of pouring hot wax or oil over a tree stump, a friend of ours always mixes wood glue with hot water and paints that on. There are also commercial alternatives that work beautifully although they can be pricey. Two of the best are probably Anchorseal and Pentacryl.
If your branch or tree stump is small enough, or you have a really looooong drill bit, you can also drill the pith out. To find the pith take a toothpick and prick the wood, working your way from the outside inwards. When you hit the pith, the toothpick will make a small indent. Unfortunately drilling the pith out isn’t always a viable option, especially when the crack has already started forming or you don’t have a drill bit that’s long enough. But this tutorial will show you how to turn a cracked wooden stump into a beautiful feature that celebrates that crack.
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What you need
- A cracked wooden stump
- Drill and wooden drill bits
- Leather cord
- Super glue with precision applicator tip
How to turn a cracked wooden stump into a feature
This is such a quick and easy fix that takes less than an hour to complete. Start by measuring the length of the crack in your wooden stump. From the starting point, usually the pith, all the way down. Our crack is 42 cm in length.
Divide the measurement into equal sections that are between 2 – 5 cm (1-2”) and mark with a pencil.
I marked my crack every 3 cm on either side. (that sounds sooooo wrong 😀 ). Using the width of two pieces of leather cord determine what wood drill bit to use.
And drill on the marks.
Using the holes as a guide cut pieces of leather cord or twine so they fit in the hole and diagonally across to the opposite hole as shown below.
Add a few small drops of glue in the first hole on the left and place two cords inside.
It makes life much easier if the superglue has a thin applicator to get the glue just where it should be.
Take one of the cords and insert it into the hole directly across on the right-hand side. Take the second cord and insert it diagonally into the next hole down on the right.
Repeat until you’ve laced up the whole entire cracked wooden stump, crisscrossing the leather cord as you go. Finish off by adding one last cord as shown below.
And that’s all there is to it.
A quick and easy way to turn a cracked wooden stump into a gorgeous feature.
This technique works no matter the size of your stump. Ours is really big, but for smaller pieces or branches you can use the same process.
What do you think? Would you lace up a crack in a wooden stump and turn it into a feature?
If you like the idea of turning a cracked wooden stump into a feature, don’t forget to pin the tutorial for later.
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Oh and if you’re looking for some of the things we used to fix the crack in our wooden stump, we’ve got you covered. Disclosure: Clicking on the links below, means we may receive a commission from Amazon. But don’t worry it won’t come out of your pocket, and it helps us come up with more amazing craft ideas to share with you 😉
To stop cracks from forming I highly recommend these products
And if you prefer to buy rather than DIY then perhaps, you’ll enjoy these.
And as always, wishing you a wonderful, crafty week filled with lots of love. Thank you for popping in for a visit.
24 thoughts on “Turn a Cracked Wooden Stump into a Feature”
Hi there, wondering if your table is treated at all or is that just natural?
This beauty was sealed with Woodoc Weatherproof Wax. We apply it every six months. It’s a South African product so I’m not sure if it’s available worldwide though.
This idea is brilliant! My hubby works a lot with wood – making things like hand-turned candle stands, hand-turned wood snowmen, and wood boxes. The wood can split. This would look amazing on our projects! Thanks! Pinned!
It’s so frustrating when that happens, especially when the wood has been hand-turned. All that time and effort wasted so I’m really glad you like this idea, Cindy, and thank you for the pin.
I love how every piece looks intentional. With every “stitch” the wooden stump looks like you would find this in any high end furniture store. Beautiful job, Michelle!
Thank you, Meegan. Our stump has become quite the talking piece at home 😀
It’s a high-end look!
Thanks so much Linda, I’m really happy we could save our stump stool
This is so creative. I love old stumps. I love the project and the informative blog about trees. Thank you?
You’re welcome, Deana. One day when I grow up I want to be a tree, they fascinate me.
Very cool! so unique your stuff. You are a true artist. I love anything wood stumps.
Awwww thank you, Maria, that means a lot to me.
I would do this in a minute if I had a stump; brilliant idea!
Thank you Sara, glad you liked it
This is such a cool idea, you made that stump into a work of art. You always have the coolest accessories in your photos. ??
Don’t tell anyone, but I’m hoping that some of our other stumps will crack too 😀
Amazing it looks like a wooden bodice with that criss-cross leather stitching.
I thought so too 😉
I would love to read your content. It was great content. Thank you for gifting us such content. We also work with crafts and art. You can visit our website once. Hope this will be your choice.
Thank you so much. I’ll pop on over to your website and have a peek.
That looks really cool with the leather cord. That’s interesting about how wood starts to crack. I do like the look of the wood with the crack, but could see some projects you would rather not have the cracks. Thanks for the tips on how to preserve the wood and help it keep from cracking.
You’re welcome, Linda. And, yes, some cracks look like they’re meant to be and then are hose others that can totally destroy a piece.
I was admiring the small piece of wood on top. Your stump is beautiful and I love how you added the leather. We had a bunch of them and used them as seating around the fireplace. Love all the natural wood.
Isn’t that small wooden-off cut so pretty. I use it all the time in our decor. If I remember correctly it washed up on the banks of a river and I’m not even sure if it’s a root or a branch.