Walnut with Termites PPBeetle/Damage

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Forum topic by Luke posted 10-31-2012 09:25 PM 4840 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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290 posts in 2860 days

10-31-2012 09:25 PM

I (through my wife and mother in law) have access to several hundred BF of old Walnut that my wife’s grandfather had milled for him some 50 years ago. A wide variety of lumber ranging from 4/4 to 12/4+ planks. All around 7-9’ long.

I was able to pick through the pile of walnut that had been stored in a trailer for more than a decade. Unfortunately quite a few pieces of the 4/4 stock has succumbed to termites or had signs of termites in them. There are a few boards that felt like styrofoam. It was a bit heart breaking, a good 100+ BF probably destroyed by termite damage.

My question is, there are some boards that had not been touched… I obviously jumped on those, and a few boards that had a hole or two that had been bored in to them. I checked them out, and brought about 60 BF home (Probably 10 percent of the TOTAL pile) I sprayed it with termite killer, and used a foam injector to spray into any holes that were in the wood.

Is it worth it? I’m a bit nervous bringing wood to my HOME that has or had termites in it… Half of the pile is BEAM sized cuts 6×6x96” and bigger… I have a rickety HF bandsaw, and I think I’d be torturing myself trying to re-saw the wood into useable planks for me, any thoughts?

13 replies so far

View rustfever's profile


759 posts in 3483 days

#1 posted 10-31-2012 09:42 PM

I recently milled a black Walnut tree. It had termites, but only in the sap wood. The sawyer told me a trick he has used for years. B-12 carburetor cleaner. He claims it kills the termites & ants [you may want to make several applications over a period of time to be sure you kill any unhatched larva] and it will not stain the wood or effect any finish used on the wood. Of course, you would not want to try to finish the wood until all the B-12 had evaporated and dried out.

I cannot vouch for this claim. But i trust the person who told me about this.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 2860 days

#2 posted 11-01-2012 04:48 PM

I’ve been doing some internet research and it may be that what I saw (I did see the insects briefly) may have been larvae to the Powder Post Beetle.

It seems termites need water, and have mud tubes, this wood was VERY dry, and no mud, just saw dust shavings.

Knowing that, is it worth it?

View faye's profile


4 posts in 2205 days

#3 posted 11-01-2012 10:25 PM

I don’t know if it is worth saving but I would definitely try. Just so you know, Drywood termites don’t use mud tubes and don’t require much water; they acquire the water they need from the wood. They bore into the wood and “kick” the wood out of “kick holes” so that the sawdust makes little piles near the holes. I’ve had them in wood furniture before; furniture is a favorite of theirs I guess. This link may help as it explains the difference in the “saw dust” with drywood termites and the powder post beetles. The holes, I’ve read, would be about the size of a BB with the termites. I think they are larger with the beetle. the wood would sound hollow and I think that it’s termites that give it a spongy feel.

This article actually has a picture of damage from the drywood temites as well as various treatments including spot treatments:

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 2860 days

#4 posted 11-01-2012 11:07 PM

So much to take in.. I did see the critters, but I didn’t pay attention to them, they did LOOK like termites, but in color the larvae of the beetle is similar. I have treated every hole with a foaming termite killer, and have scrubbed the wood that I salvaged with a wire brush. I guess now its just a matter of time to inspect to see if there are any more droppings of a sort. The holes are more of a bb sized hole than anything, just barely enough for a small straw to fit in (the foaming spray was like a WD-40 type straw) to inject the insecticide.

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 2863 days

#5 posted 11-02-2012 01:56 AM

The walnut sapwood that I had powder post beetles in looked very sound when I built a chair. Several months later, tiny holes and little piles of sawdust! Came right through several coats of cured Spar Urethane! I tried several fixes and finally put it in a “tent” and set off one of those bug bombs in the “tent”. Most advice I got said this was a waste of time, but it did solve my problem. “BB sized” holes seem awfully big for powder post beetles to me.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View faye's profile


4 posts in 2205 days

#6 posted 11-02-2012 02:02 AM

Yeah, I have seen the hole of the Beetle. My ex-husband had this wooden box that was like a mini dresser, sort of; it looked like a dresser but it was to hold change, pens, paperclips and stuff. It was to sit on top of a desk or dresser and just looked cool. It was old. Anyway, we kept seeing all this dust and couldn’t figure it out. Turned out the beetles were in there, the hole was much bigger than a BB, but I don’t know which kind of beetle he had, we never saw. There are several different types of wood damaging insects. I would try to watch the wood though, see if you can save it. It doesn’t cost as much to save it as it would to replace it. Just think of the stories you can tell if it can be saved! :) Good luck! Keep us posted on how it turns out for you.

View faye's profile


4 posts in 2205 days

#7 posted 11-02-2012 02:08 AM

You know that some companies have a “box” like a CONEX box that they’ll put the wood in and “tent” it for you. I saw that’s how they saved some antiques in California for a museum. The stuff had to be stored until the display was ready and they didn’t want it to deteriorate more, plus they didn’t want the termites to get into other artwork in storage. Never give up, never surrender!

View fumehappy's profile


137 posts in 2425 days

#8 posted 11-02-2012 02:17 AM

If the item is small enough you can “cook” it in the oven or an outdoor grill. I’ve read an internal temperature of 140 for an hour will do the trick, but when i grilled my old pre-lateral stanley, i did it at 250 for 4 hours. no finish on it left to worry about.

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 2860 days

#9 posted 11-02-2012 11:38 PM

Thats my fear, that a while down the road, they will show up… The stock is too big to “cook” all though perhaps next year in the summer I can build a desecrate solar kiln in my back yard. I live in suburbia, so I don’t have a lot of freedom to do what I want.

View nelsonpitter's profile


2 posts in 1688 days

#10 posted 04-03-2014 08:08 AM

It is very common with old wood. Sometime we feel that wood is deteriorated from only a single corner but it may possible that complete wood eaten by termites.

-- Nelson Pitter

View Thatcher's profile


33 posts in 2864 days

#11 posted 09-07-2015 01:35 AM

Thanks for this helpful discussion. I’ve just repurposed some untreated unfinished pine from one home project (a filler for a pass through) into another (a bookcase). I want to urethane the bookcase. However I noticed a pile of what I think is frass and one kick hole. We have also been accumulating other evidence that it is time to get the bug people to do an investigation and a possible tenting of the home. We live in Hawaii where some say that tenting is something you can expect to do every five years. Ours was last tented, as is required, just before we bought it 5 1/2 years ago.

So I the question I am researching is it better to urethane now or after a tenting / treatment? The termites clearly can eat through the urethane but if they haven’t done so by the treatment, will the treatment protect the wood or have I just protected the termites from the treatment?

I should probably repost as a new thread but I wanted to collect my thoughts after reading these posts, which unforuneately for you, dear reader, is best done by writing them down.

-- -T

View Thatcher's profile


33 posts in 2864 days

#12 posted 09-07-2015 01:37 AM

PS. I’m sure that I’m dealing with dry wood termites.

-- -T

View WDHLT15's profile


1786 posts in 2649 days

#13 posted 09-07-2015 11:42 AM


If it is powderpost beetles, the tunnels in the wood will be filled with frass (sawdust excrement) from the beetle. I believe that termite tunnels are open all the way and are not filled with sawdust. Look at the tunnels and check.

Powderpost beetles can come out of the wood several years after you build your project and finish it. Just because you are not seeing new sawdust now does not make you safe. The eggs and larvae can still be in there.

The sure fire way to get rid of them is to get the wood into a kiln and heat the wood to an internal wood temp of over 133 degrees for several hours. The way that I do it is to heat the wood in the kiln up to 150 degrees air temp, and hold that temp for 24 hours. Check and see if there is a kiln in your area that will heat treat the wood for you.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

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