To urethane or not a project that may have dry wood termites living inside it

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Forum topic by Thatcher posted 09-07-2015 02:22 AM 1442 views 0 times favorited 4 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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33 posts in 3500 days

09-07-2015 02:22 AM

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 (dry termite poop) and one kick hole (whence the termite poop is removed). 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 here, just before we bought it 5 1/2 years ago.

So I the question I am researching: is it better to urethane the bookcase 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 would have I just protected the termites from the treatment?

If I were in this situation one week earlier, I’d have just taken the project into work where one of our buildings was getting tented over the weekend, then brought it back before urethaning it.

Spot tenting has worked for us before for some furniture we bought that turned out to be dry termite invested.

So I’m leaning towards urethane now and treat if needed later. With how slow dry termites work, I’m presuming furniture to structure invasions are

Thanks for letting me think out loud among some of the most thoughtful people I know. Comments appreciated.

—”Time is natures way of making sure everything doesn’t all happen at once”

-- -T

4 replies so far

View Thatcher's profile


33 posts in 3500 days

#1 posted 09-07-2015 02:29 AM

PS: I realize this is less of a woodworking question than a termite question but comments to another post on lumberjocks went so far to answering my question that I hope I’m not exceding the bounds of good lumberjock behavior by rasing mine.

So if you’d rather comment on my decision to urethane pine, I’m open for that too. I’ve learned that pine doesn’t stain well, which is why the wood was not finished when it was used for a passthrough fillin. Now as a bookcase for a 15 year old, some protection is in order.

-- -T

View Crank50's profile


173 posts in 2385 days

#2 posted 09-07-2015 05:14 PM

Never been to Hawaii so not familiar with your bugs, but I had some Cherry lumber that got infested with powder post beetles. Did not want to use poison or anything that might change the color of the wood so I heat treated it. Built a small solar kiln out of osb panels and a glass top. Easily heated the wood up to 160 degrees and kept it there for a couple of days. No more bugs.

View Kazooman's profile


1515 posts in 2761 days

#3 posted 09-07-2015 09:25 PM

I don’t have any special knowledge in the area, but I have to think that you should do the tent treatment prior to applying any finish if you seriously think you may have an infestation problem. Otherwise you are rolling the dice. I don’t know what chemicals they will be using for the treatment, but the urethane finish will certainly provide some degree of a barrier to their penetration into the wood. I believe that your comment on protecting the termites from the treatment is valid. That is the chemist in me speaking.

View fuigb's profile


583 posts in 3766 days

#4 posted 09-08-2015 12:04 AM

Those little bastards can eat through poly? Lord, it’s the end times. The more I hear the more I like these hard northern winters where i am. Good luck, Thatcher.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

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