Controlling Checking in a Walnut Mantel

A carefully located plunge cut in the hidden side of a large sawn member may restrict checking to that location. April 18, 2010

I am cutting a nice straight walnut log for a fireplace mantle 9 ft long and about 9" by 6". I read somewhere that cutting a slice on one side to the pith will control splitting to that cut and will dry with minimal splitting elsewhere on the faces. Is this an accepted technique or is there a better way to control splitting on a piece this big?

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
When sawing a large piece like that it is best if you put the pith of the log a bit to the back side of the mantle. Then plunge cut the back that will be to the fireplace. It will check to that face for the most part and keep the front and top pretty. Sometimes the log has a mind of its own as to where it will check. Also, if you seal the ends front and top, they will dry slower and the check will go to the back of the uncoated face.

From the original questioner:
Thanks. I have been checking this site for several years and have learned a lot from the regulars like you and Doc Wengert. I will report on this in a year!