I remember reading, years ago, an article which involved cigar store Indian carvers and ships masts. the ship yards would bore or burn a hole into the ends of logs 3-4 feet to reduce/prevent checking by allowing the log shrink internally as well as from the out side. When they got ready to turn the mast they would cut off the ends. The carvers would buy the ends to carve Indians. Many of the old carvings have a hole all the way through from top to bottom which were sometimes plugged and some left open. Just food for thought.