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How to fix a split in a table top

New Contributor

How to fix a split in a table top

Total newbie with no idea here. I have my Grandmothers old pine kitchen table but it has a split the whole length of the top of it.  I want to strip the horrible varnish/stain on it back, paint the legs white and leave the top the natural pine colour.


Question One.  What do I do about the split in the top?  Not sure if I try to glue/clamp it back together or as it's split the whole way just fill with putty or something?  I don't mind if you have to see the mark where the split is just don't want a gaping hole there.


Question Two:  Once I've dealt with the split what do I put on the table top to just have it natural but protected.  


Thank you.

Table 1.jpgTable 2.jpgTable 3.jpg

Bunnings Team Member
Bunnings Team Member

Re: How to fix a split in a table top

Welcome to the Bunnings Workshop community @Noela. It's fantastic to have you join us, and many thanks for your question.


I suspect that split is the joint between one of the four boards used to construct the top. You could remove the board, clean it up and re-glue it into position, closing the gap. However, it would involve a fair amount of work, you'd need some long clamps, and there is the potential that damage could be caused. To glue this piece back, it would really need to be removed, allowing you to cover the joint with glue adequately. It would be hard to get a sufficient amount of glue to penetrate that small gap at the moment. I'd be happy to walk you through this process if that is something you'd like to do.


If the piece is structurally sound and doesn't flex when lent on, I suggest that you attempt to fill the gap, as you have already mentioned. That won't inhibit a full restoration from being completed in the future and would be the easiest option. It would be best if you started by sanding the top back to raw Pine. Once the top is sanded, you'll need to dig out the buildup formed in the gap and any dust from sanding. A Stanley 4 Piece Hook And Pick Set would come in handy for this, or you could potentially use a needle. Once the joint is free from debris, you can fill it with Timbermate 250g Pine Wood Filler. When the filler has dried, you can re-sand the area blending it in.


A natural look coating that you could apply would be Bondall 1L Satin Monocel Clear Timber Varnish. You can see it in action as @JoeAzza used it for their overhead laundry cupboards project. I was really impressed with the natural look it achieved. You can barely notice there is a coating at all.


For the painting portion of your project, you should find this step-by-step guide useful: How To Paint Over Varnished Timber.


Let me also mention some of our knowledgeable woodworkers @r23on, @woodenwookie@JoeAzza and @Poppop to see if they would like to join the discussion.


Please let me know if you need further assistance or had questions.






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Trusted Contributor

Re: How to fix a split in a table top

You have a common problem of the cross supports expanding with the changes in weather that puts strain onto the grain of the top.


Table clips don't look to be an option given the design. Normally the would screw into the top and fit into a slot on the rail allowing some movement.


If the rails are just screwed on opening up the hole size will allow some movement if no glue is holding it as well, you may need a larger head on the screws or use a washer.


If you can fix the movement problem then glue and clamp gives the best appearance, if you need to fill remember that what caused the gap will change with the moisture content in the air and drying out will put pressure on the filler. If you don't want to colour match gold epoxy is a popular choice for a Japanese feel.


Not sure if you could sand enough to remove all the original finish, a test sand on a piece that will be hidden is a good idea.


Oil finishes will give a flat natural look, benchtop oil is a good choice as is a cutting board oil. Varnish can either be flat, satin or gloss finish and it comes water or oil based and can include a stain. Epoxy finishes are hard wearing but are glossy. Some metho on a rag will give you an idea of what a flat finish will look like and it doesn't leave a stain once it has evaporated.

Valued Contributor

Re: How to fix a split in a table top

Hi Noela

being your grandmothers table I will assume old methods of jointing of which they used one of 3 methods.

tongue  and grove,

biscuit jointing

or lamination 

In this case it looks as though lamination has been used for jointing and with time and the changing weather conditions the timber swells and shrinks and in many cases the glue will give way leaving what looks like a crack. Looking at the photos this is the case the glue has dried out and given way.

As pointed out by Brad if you can unscrew the end supports and remove them to allow you to take of the separated part clean of the old glue, re glue with food great glue and clamp the unit back together this will give you the best result as already suggested

If you are going to use it as a table for food I strongly advise food grade glue. you can look that up for yourself as to why.

Question are you sure the table is pine?

Hope this helps

New Contributor

Re: How to fix a split in a table top

Thanks so much for your response.  I assumed it was pine as a cheap common timber but really have no idea.  Sounds like I better remove the varnish and most of the stain that I can, this was put on a number of years but of course was a very bad job so just trying to get the top back to as natural/original as possible.

New Contributor

Re: How to fix a split in a table top

 Thank you so much for the advice.  I think I better strip it first of the terrible reno job done on it previously and see what I'm left and what the timber looks like.

Re: How to fix a split in a table top

Thank you so much for the advice and recommendations.  I at least know where to start now.

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