Oak beam - finishing and fitting

25 Apr 2007
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United Kingdom

I was wondering if you could help as I bought a solid oak beam for a matle piece shown here

I need to stabilise the bark front as it's quite fragile. Was thinking wet rot hardener or the likes. Any thoughts on this?

Was going to use osmo oil on the grain faces / maybe with a stain depending on what the missus wants. Sound ok?

It's about 20kg and needs drilled etc for concealed brackets. I like the rod type ones which just need a plug at the back and single hole drilled in the beam. Think 6 or so would hold it? Maybe a diff fixing?

Any help much appreciated as I don't want to mess up a nice bit of wood.


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Is it green or air dried?

I assume not kiln dried. Looks like it has insect holes, which would be normal for a bit of hardwood with bark still on. So don't be suprised if more insects eat away at the sapwood if it hasnt been kiln dried to kill them off.

Bark doesnt shrink, timber does, so there is always a risk of the bark becoming loose. Any clear hardening agent, PVA or varnish will help to protect it a little, and some of this will absorbe into the bark and help bond it.

The shelving brackets you are thinking of typically take about 15kg, how many will depend what you are putting on the shelf.

You can stagger them in height along the beam, rather than being in a line, this will make them work more in sheer and less in bending (less likely to get wobbly or sagging shelf).

Drying method not specified, but I think it's air dried. He did mention the odd wood louse might appear :eek:

Will try rot hardener on another bit of firewood oak and see what happens to the bark.

It won't ever need to hold much weight, just my wallet and specs. I'm Scottish so my specs are heavier

Great idea on the fixings, thanks for that!

It will shrink in the home, by at least 20mm so needs to sit in the house for a few months or it will show all you fixings and move away from the wall.
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As much as 20mm!

Any way to compensate for this in the fixings? I mean I'm sure I could wait a few months but not sure she could. Was expecting to drill it Sunday...

If I finish all grain sides with osmo, will it still go that far and fast? Worried now

Any way to fix it then reposition when it shrinks?

I used oak sleeper to make a coffee table, had to reshape after 6months and a years later due to shrinkage. Cut 20mm of the legs to accommodate a shrunken top.
It will shrink by about 5% on the cross section, but not in length. A piece that size will take over a year to dry.

If the fixings are central the shrinkage won't matter much. If the fixings are at different points in the width they will need to be slotted.

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