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I am using wood slabs ( 2" X 9") for wedding centerpieces. I have a friend who will cut them 6 months early. He says that unless I wax them that they will all crack badly. What would I use to preserve them? Is this necessary? How would I best store 20 of them? Sorry, I don't know the type of wood (from Missouri) that he will use. I will be bringing them to Florida.

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Considering you don't have any further details on materials, wouldn't it be best to ask the person making them - it sounds like they've already given you a partial answer, ask for the rest! –  Steven Mar 12 '13 at 18:27
    
Will you be adding any finish to them, after they are dried? –  HerrBag Mar 12 '13 at 18:58

2 Answers 2

Paraffin is a low temperature wax (around 100 F) that is inexpensive and can be melted in a pot (or disposable aluminum baking pan) to allow dipping. Its brittle at room temperature, so your slabs must be handled gently after dipping.

It is best to dip just the end grain ends of the piece and leave the other 4 sides alone. Keep them out of the heat and sun, a root cellar would be perfect. (probably not an option in FLA). Perhaps a cooler, this will let them dry very slowly, a key to minimizing splitting.

Addendum:

It is usual to make the original piece a bit oversize and then mill it to the final size after it is dry. This is why a 2 x 4 is 1.5 x 3.5, a combination of shrinkage and final sizing.

This will allow you to trim the top and bottom so that they are parallel and will hold the vase steadily. A block plane or sander can make one side flat and a thickness planer will make the other side parallel to it.

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Thank you for the responses. We are going for a rustic look so we do not need to finish them. My question is do we HAVE to refinish in any way in order to minimize splitting until we use them. Some splitting is fine but they have to be somewhat even as we are putting glass vases or candle holders on top. At this point in time we do not plan to keep them after using them. –  irene Mar 12 '13 at 19:24

My guess is that by wax they are referring to a finishing wax. It is easily applied and helps protect the finish against the environment, however it is not a durable finish so it is not appropriate for items that are handled frequently.

A quick search on Homedepot turns up a bunch of items, but you'd be looking for something like this:

Finishing Wax

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