Oak woodworm damage

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Forum topic by Haldeman1773 posted 05-27-2013 07:06 AM 2268 views 0 times favorited 8 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2 posts in 1848 days

05-27-2013 07:06 AM

Hello, folks. Sorry for the long-winded first post, but it’s a long and painful story. There are a lot of “could’ve / should’ve” comments to be made here, but this is the situation I’m in…

Purchased enough 16/4 kiln dried (supposedly) clear and kiln-dried oak for the purpose of making a replacement window frame for our ca.1773 house. Material was purchased rough, milled and finished to size, and then mortise & tennoned to make the frame. During the milling process, I noticed a good bit of woodworm damage (powder post beetle?), and I arranged the milling of the various components such that it would be hidden back inside the wall when complete.

However, I was not able to hide all of the damage, and so exposed areas do have many smaller worm holes. All holes (in both the extensive and lightly damaged areas) are currently filled with what I assume to be the feces of whatever bug was formerly present.

I also assumed there was no active infestation, but while trying to research what to fill these tunnels with, I found several bits of information cautioning me that this is not a safe assumption. My wife found a product called Bora Care, with which she is suggesting I paint the timbers, which will obviously delay my install another week! Her reasoning is a few statements we’ve read, stating that sometimes kiln drying does not kill all, and that infestation often happens at the dealer after kiln-drying.


1. Is it normal to see this damage in clear oak? Should I expect any recourse with the lumber dealer? I know of only one dealer in my area who sells kiln-dried oak in 16/4, so I’m sort of relying on these guys.

2. Should I delay the project long enough to treat the lumber?

3. What to do about the powder-filled holes? Must I gouge them clean and fill, simply prime over them, what?

Thank you!

Overall frame construction:

Construction detail (prior to draw-boring):

Light damage on exposed part of sill:

Heavy damage on portion of stile to be hidden inside wall:

8 replies so far

View eaglewrangler's profile


64 posts in 2558 days

#1 posted 05-27-2013 07:35 PM

it looks like beetle damage, possibly dead tree or damaged tree. If any larve are left that become beetles, they will fly off and not bother dry wood. Ant or termites are the worry, but you will likely see some bodies and wider tunnels that are more irregular. They all need moisture. .

View rrww's profile


263 posts in 2135 days

#2 posted 05-28-2013 12:09 AM

If you bought clear high grade oak you didn’t get what you paid for. I would talk to the dealer. When I buy rustic grade lumber that is what I would expect.

If it is kiln dried most better lumber dealers run the kiln in a bug kill cycle. If that is the case you should ok.

Good luck

View WDHLT15's profile


1747 posts in 2497 days

#3 posted 05-28-2013 01:31 AM

Powderpost beetles. If the wood was kiln dried and then stored in a shed, barn, etc, the powderpost beetles could have infested the wood after it came out of the kiln. They love oak.

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

View Haldeman1773's profile


2 posts in 1848 days

#4 posted 05-28-2013 01:50 AM

The coloring of this timber was dark when I bought it. Not sure if that happens in the kiln, or if it’s a sign it had been sitting around at the dealer for a long time. The darkness didn’t go deep, and was gone with a pass or two over the jointer and planer.

I think I’ll avoid this dealer in the future, and seek out another source for 16/4 KD oak. I know of two other dealers in the area that will mill oak 16/4, but they only sell green.

If anyone knows a dealer carrying 16/4 in northern Bucks or Montgomery County (PA), I’m all ears!

View WDHLT15's profile


1747 posts in 2497 days

#5 posted 05-28-2013 11:38 AM

Before the adults mature in the wood and bore out leaving the frass filled holes, you cannot tell if the wood is infested. I spray all green oak with a Disodium octaborate tetrahydrate solution (a borate salt much like borax) immediately after sawing the lumber on my sawmill. This prevents any infestation from every occurring.

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

View jetsonFUVA's profile


4 posts in 1646 days

#6 posted 12-15-2013 03:57 PM

So you should spray with BoraCare when the wood is still moist? I am using green pine in a shed now. Can you stain with oil base, while wood is still moist as well, or wait till wood dries to apply the stain?
I hate to tag this comment on another post, but am having trouble posting here, new to site forum

View WDHLT15's profile


1747 posts in 2497 days

#7 posted 12-16-2013 01:04 PM

The chemicals in BoraCare, the borate and the other ingredients are water soluble and should be OK to use on the green wood if you let it soak in good. I would not put an oil stain on wood that is green or not reasonable dry.

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

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2536 days

#8 posted 12-16-2013 01:28 PM

I agree with rrww. Plain and simple, you did not get what you paid for. Some of that wood is beyond use. I’ve pulled old oak out of barns for free in better shape than that one piece. As for the beetles, posts above tell how to control them, but I would have a hard time even using that wood. Just an opinion.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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