Powder post beetles?

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Forum topic by Boberto posted 05-06-2017 10:44 AM 1233 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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25 posts in 1819 days

05-06-2017 10:44 AM

I have several 35 yr old native oak 2” thick boards piled in the barn and some have little piles of dust on them and worm holes I suspect may be powder post beetles.. I would like to resaw a few to about 1/2” thick to make a project. Am I asking for trouble down the road? If I get the finish on them will that seal or kill any live bugs? Or should I have them kiln dried first? I do NOT want the project ate up after it is done!
Thanks for any advice.

9 replies so far

View HorizontalMike's profile


7894 posts in 3765 days

#1 posted 05-06-2017 01:28 PM

I use a product called Tim-bor. Granted, I do this with small boards… I spray all sides and place them in a covered plastic trash can and wait a year or two. After two full years, I had just one beetle emerge. Tough little critters, they be…

Barring that, I would be cautious when cutting up, sizing, sanding, etc. That means to DC from ALL tools and the DC itself, EACH DAY that you work with this stuff. Sounds anal, but…

I guess another option is to take them to a local sawmill and have them kiln dried, the only REAL way to know they have been killed.

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3327 days

#2 posted 05-08-2017 11:57 AM

If you can heat the wood to 133 degrees internal temp, that will kill any insects. That is your best bet.

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

View Robert's profile


3941 posts in 2331 days

#3 posted 05-08-2017 12:51 PM

My experience is chances are they are gone and the damage is done.

No matter what you do, you’re still gonna have little holes everywhere.

Of course, in some circles, that is considered “chic”.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3327 days

#4 posted 05-09-2017 11:51 AM

They can stay in the wood and emerge after several years, so hard to tell if they are gone.

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

View Matt Rogers's profile

Matt Rogers

112 posts in 2821 days

#5 posted 05-09-2017 12:51 PM

I would not assume that they are gone. That is a recipe for disaster. Especially if you are making anything to give to sell to others. Imagine how you (or your bank account/insurance company) would feel if you infected someone’s entire house with powderpost beetles.

I had an infestation because I picked up a load of wood with beetles and had all my stuff stored in covered sheds. It spread and I had to go through a several thousand board feet of lumber and slabs and cook them all in a 20’ shipping container insulated and heated to 170 degrees. The 130 temp is in the interior of the wood and so any thick pieces take a few hours to reach that internally. There are complicated factors involved as well. If your wood is wet (even 15% could be considered wet in this case), then the heated air will be evaporating the moisture off the surface of the boards, that evaporation caused a cooling effect of the board, just like when we sweat, so the board heats up more slowly. There are large USFS manuals on the subject. I found that 160-170 was a good temp for the kiln and kept everything in for at least 4 hours when reaching that temp. For larger pieces like 12”x12” timbers, it took up to 24 hours to cook. I used a small probe thermometer and drilled a hole down into the center of a sample piece of wood and measured the internal temp when opening the kiln to check to see if it was done cooking.

After all that, I moved everything inside and it has been 4 years so far and no beetles found. But they are a pain in the butt and I don’t think that they should be taken lightly if there is a significant infestation.

-- Matt Rogers, and

View rodneywt1180b's profile


185 posts in 1237 days

#6 posted 05-09-2017 02:03 PM

I’ve cut infested boards before and many times the wood is just a shell full of worm holes. If the infestation is severe your wood may just be scrap.

-- Rodney, Centralia, WA, USA

View Boberto's profile


25 posts in 1819 days

#7 posted 05-09-2017 10:06 PM

Thanks for all your advice. I decided I’d best not use these boards for this project. I don’t want to take a chance on it. I have a neighbor who has a kiln but he has it shut down for the summer and I need to make this project soon so I will find some kiln dried lumber for it. Thanks again.

View HTown's profile


114 posts in 2037 days

#8 posted 05-12-2017 01:18 PM

Mesquite has a similar problem with worms. Years back my shop teacher would cover the wood with a tarp and put a small dish of ammonia to fume the worms. That seemed to work.
Of course ammonia is used to color oak, but if it is still rough the discoloring would probably be machined away.
I’d try a test piece for a few days to confirm the ability to remove the discoloration.
Obvious precautions of protective wear, well ventilated area, away from the house.

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3327 days

#9 posted 05-12-2017 08:36 PM

Ammonia will not penetrate the wood deep enough. You need heat. At last 133 degrees internal wood temperature.

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

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