Woodworm in table sold...

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Forum topic by Oak Designs posted 06-27-2011 11:24 AM 4898 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Oak Designs

17 posts in 3950 days

06-27-2011 11:24 AM

Sorry, I appreciate the word ‘woodworm’ is probably swearing around here!

I made a few chunky oak coffee tables about a year back and sold them to a few local ‘friends of friends’.
One guy has come back to me 8 months after I delivered two tables to him, saying the following…

“I’ve discovered recently that one of the tables that you made for us has quite a bit of woodworm in one of the sections. I think that it must have been there since we got it from you, but I hadn’t realised what the holes were until I researched it on the internet recently. From what I can see it seems to have affected one beam particularly badly, and the next one slightly (although I haven’t taken the table apart to check if there’s evidence in the other beams, which there may well be). The difficulty is that with the wood now well cracked there are probably eggs etc in the actual cracks which will then hatch and affect the other parts of the table”.


“I’ve been looking at the tables more closely, and I think that they both have termites living in them as well! They are very small, light insects that keep appearing, and they fit the descriptions I’ve found of termites online. I’m pretty sure they’re not responsible for the holes I’ve told you about previously, but are another problem which will need sorting quickly. When I pulled the beams apart, they have a lot of mould on the inside edges where the wood has been pushed up against another beam, is this normal? It seems from what I’ve seen online that termites are attracted to mouldy wood”.

The tables are made from green oak, but this really is something I have never come across before, and only having made a few of these tables… I’m not sure if this is something that is ‘my fault/problem’ or if its something that could have come from the clients home? but then I guess it would be evident elsewhere?

If anyone can offer any advice it would be really appeciated, im not sure if I should collect the tables and treat them with something, or just give him his money back and destroy them… which would put me well ‘out of pocket’, but close the problem. arrrhhhh… really really confused about the whole situation!

-- Ben Bull, Oak Designs -

10 replies so far

View HawkDriver's profile


447 posts in 3200 days

#1 posted 06-27-2011 05:49 PM

Are these tables outside?

-- Patrick, Helicopters don't fly. They beat the air into submission.

View Oak Designs's profile

Oak Designs

17 posts in 3950 days

#2 posted 06-27-2011 05:50 PM

no, a clients livingroom.

-- Ben Bull, Oak Designs -

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2496 posts in 3673 days

#3 posted 06-27-2011 06:06 PM

I know nothing about “woodworms”, but termites live in the ground and feed on what is laying on the ground. I would look at where he has had the tables and see if there are holes through the floor and into the legs.
If the house is up off the ground, check the inside of the foundation for mud tunnels from the ground up the cement to the floor joists. This sounds more like the problem to me.

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3447 days

#4 posted 06-27-2011 06:16 PM

Ben, How long as this client had the table? Its very doubtful that the bugs entered the table at his place unless hes had the table for a long time.

You said it was made from green oak so I assume the bugs have been inside the whole time. Could have been you didn’t see any bugs but there were eggs that were in the wood that hatched after the table was made.

If it is indeed termites I would get the table out of his house ASAP and destroy it. Don’t even bring it back into your shop. If termites were to get into the house it could be a nightmare as termite damage is NOT covered by home insurance. Then I would either offer to make a new one out of a different batch of lumber or give money back.

I guess thats a risk when working with green lumber. Had it had time to sit and dry you would have probably seen some damage in the wood. Did you buy the lumber from somewhere or did you mill it yourself? If you got the lumber from a lumber yard I would talk to them and tell them they sold you some infected lumber. If the lumber was stuff you cut then I guess you picked the wrong tree to mill.

I once bought a small stack of green oak lumber and I noticed it had some bugs in it. Not sure if it was termites or wood betels. I just stacked it outside and I will check it when its dry.

Hope you get it solved as that could be a big issue if its termites.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View Dan's profile


3653 posts in 3447 days

#5 posted 06-27-2011 06:22 PM

I just read again and saw you gave the time frame… 8 months to a year is a very short time for the wood to get bugs like that. Especially if its in the living room. If the client had termites or bugs in his house then he would have seen damage to other things before the table.

My best bet is there were some eggs in the wood that hatched and 8 months seems about a decent time frame for the bugs to have worked there way out to where noticeable damage would start showing.

-- Dan - "Collector of Hand Planes"

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3836 days

#6 posted 06-27-2011 06:24 PM

You might want to have a pest guy look at it to determine what kind of insect (they will know termites right off). They old way to get rid of termites was to gas them (that is why you used to see homes with tents over them. I believe now that that have several ways to kill them….one is electrostatic discharge (electricity)...a pest control company would be the best place to get assistance with that – or get other alternatives. As for wood worms….in certain woods, I recommend you get them kiln dried….typically a kiln gets hot enough to kill the bugs and their eggs and embryos – if the wood is crossing boarders…typically they would fumigate (which might be another answer).

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

View KayBee's profile


1083 posts in 3813 days

#7 posted 06-27-2011 06:35 PM

A few years back, we bought some chairs (cheaper and quicker than if I made them). After a while, noticed some saw dust on the seat and floor that kept coming back. Took the chairs into the garage, basically coated them with bug spray, left them for about four days. Cleaned them off and no problems since. Don’t know if this works for termites or if they’re termites.

One of the problems with the internet is tmi-too much information. Kind of like giving a hypochondriac a book of strange medical diseases and say ‘have at it.’

-- Karen - a little bit of stupid goes a long way

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3875 days

#8 posted 07-31-2011 06:48 AM

They might not be termites but some other woodboring bugs. Termites create their tunnels so they can move back and forth from the wood to a water source. If they cannot get to moisture the will die, whereas other woodborers can survive in the wood.

View Tennessee's profile


2901 posts in 3081 days

#9 posted 08-05-2011 09:42 PM

Lots of oak trees have the woodborers as we called them. I’ve had live trees cut off my lot that had woodborers. Not good. I’d get the tables out of there, and replace or eat the cash. just caught a bad break…

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View closetguy's profile


744 posts in 4458 days

#10 posted 08-08-2011 01:51 AM

I’ve seen this happen before. I had a customer email me that one of the items he bought at a recent show from me had termites in it. When I asked what he bought, it was an item I don’t sell. He finally realized that even though he had bought an item from me, the item with the termites were bought from another woodworker.

I tend to agree with Dan. That’s a lot of time to pass for bugs to show up. Either some eggs hatched, or the bugs originated from inside this person’s house after the fact.

-- I don't make mistakes, only design

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