Moisture-induced fractures in solid timber create considerable problems for both building industries and sawmills. Cracks caused by kiln-drying of solid timber are extremely difficult to predict. This paper reports on experiments concerned with methods of reducing cracks in wood and with the cracking behaviour of Norway spruce discs. The spruce was dried from green moisture content down to equilibrium moisture content at 23°C and 64% relative humidity. Moisture-related strains and crack development were measured using a digital image correlation system, Aramis. The moisture gradient in the longitudinal direction had a major influence on crack behaviour and was quite pronounced in discs more than 30 mm thick, but much more limited in discs only 15 mm thick. Although the thicker discs often cracked very early in the drying process, many of these cracks became invisible later on in the drying process, suggesting that sealing the ends of timber logs while in the green moisture state could considerably reduce the development of end-cracks. The initial moisture content and the shrinkage properties of the wood varied markedly from pith to bark. The importance of taking material inhomogeneities into account when modelling crack propagation in solid wood is emphasized. © 2011 Taylor & Francis.