Q: I have some cypress outdoor furniture that I made and now I am getting a few complaints from customers that there are some substantial cracks in the arms and other flat surfaces. Can you help with this?

A: Cypress is a species that is prone to developing cracks, more precisely called surface checks, on the flat sawn surfaces if the wood is initially dried too quickly. Oak is another surface-check-prone species.

Once dry, if the wood is rewetted and attains a high moisture content and then is redried quickly, such as when the sun beats on the wood, you will find that small, insignificant surface checks will grow as the wood dries. In fact, new checks can form. An excellent water repellent coating would reduce the likelihood of these checks developing and worsening by preventing rapid moisture gain. Otherwise, if poorly coated or used "au-natural" then you can expect surface checks to develop; it is the way this species acts (or reacts) to big changes in its environment. (In interior situations, the MC changes are too small to cause such defects to worsen or develop.)

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