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Last year I assembled a playground kit for my son and noticed the one leg on the ladder is splitting where the step boards were pre notched to fit into.

The wood is basically pre stained red cedar. I am guessing the one step board expanded and split the wood. It is slowly getting worse month after month.

Is there something I can do to repair the wood and regain it's structural integrity for the most part? I thought about lagging the side of it and using liberal amounts of wood glue but it is only 1 and 3/4" and I don't want a sharp lag popping out and hurting my son. Also I am worried that a lag would weaken it even more. Any suggestions?

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best thing to do is install 3/8 threaded rods immediately below each rung. just drill a 3/8 hole through each stringer such that you can put a threaded rod directly under and touching the bottom of each rung (as close as possible). run the rod through each stringer and then put a large fender washer and nylock nut on the outside of each stringer. the compression will hold the structure together and compensate for the cracks in the wood. should the cracks proceed to spread, the rods will retard the overall splitting of the wood by acting with the rungs as splints for the ladder assembly. should the wood stringer split vertically from rung notch to rung notch such that the rung could shear through the notch, the rod will act as a secondary buttress.

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The vast amount of stress on vertical (and steeply angled) members is compression, and splits are very common without significant degradation of structural integrity, especially in cedar.

Having said that, the break does go pretty far along a notched area, so I would consider reinforcing the piece. I would probably skip the glue and drive a few stainless steel wood screws on the inside face of the upright. Obviously choose screw lengths that will not poke through.

If you want extra support, you could force a bit of exterior glue in the crack before screwing.

Frankly, if you did nothing, I suspect you would have no problem, and even if it worsened, a sudden failure is unlikely.

P.S. It look like you may have the same playset as the one in my yard I bought for my grandkids. I have several minor splits that have stabilized for several years.

  • Thanks, it is a Gorilla playset, middle of the road version, nice little wood roof with sunbursts and three swings. My kids loves it but it was extraordinarily difficult to put together because the further you got into it, the pre drilled holes stopped lining up. Would have saved me more time if they didn't pre drill the holes for carriage bolts! – maple_shaft Apr 16 '16 at 0:14
  • Mine lined up pretty well with only one misdrilled hole on the ladder. – bib Apr 16 '16 at 0:44

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