Help with Powderpost Beetles

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timf67

Tim
Senior User
I have a friend who commissioned a rustic dining table a few years ago. The table used reclaimed barn wood. I was at her house over the weekend and she mentioned to me that she occasionally finds small dust piles under the the 4x4' used as stretchers and that she finds dead powderpost beetles near the windows in that room. She asked me how to get rid of them, and the only sure way that I know would be "cook" them. So, knowing that several of you have lumber kilns, would one of you be willing to bake her table for her? Any other suggestions would be helpful.

Tim
 

scsmith42

New User
Scott Smith
Tim, she needs to heat the table until the core of the boards reach of temp of 133F or greater for 30 minutes. If the table can be dismantled, this can be accomplished at home by sticking it in a hot attic for a week or two.

Some folks recommend fumigation or cold treatments; however these methods have not been proven to successfully kill the PPB larvae in the wood.
 

timf67

Tim
Senior User
I agree that heat is the best method, but the table would not be easy to disassemble, it is not bolted together. It has what appear to be pinned lap joints for the legs and stretchers. The table is a rough copy of the table pictured below and is approximately 42"x108" That is why I was looking for a kiln or oven large enough to put the assembled table into without trying to dismantle it.

table28.jpg
 

wayne

New User
wayne
Tim

Find you a business that specializes in paint stripping.

There's a place in Mocksville called Landmark Coatings that has a oven that they bake paint off with. This oven is large enough to bake a truck cab, don't know how cost effective it will be but there are places out there.

If you can't find a suitable place to heat it google a product called Boracare.

Wayne
 
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scsmith42

New User
Scott Smith
Tim

Find you a business that specializes in paint stripping.

There's a place in Mocksville called Landmark Coatings that has a oven that they bake paint off with. This oven is large enough to bake a truck cab, don't know how cost effective it will be but there are places out there.

If you can't find a suitable place to heat it google a product called Boracare.

Wayne
Wayne, that's a great suggestion re finding a paint shop.

Boracare is not as desirable an option on furniture (it is fine on framing lumber though) because it is mixed with water. In order to impart a high enough concentration on the wood, it has to be saturated (which is not a good idea for dry furniture...)
 

Matt Furjanic

Matt
Senior User
I made a table from a slab of maple burl a few years ago. Soon after it was done we noticed tiny pin holes starting to develop. I took a extra large garbage bag an put the whole table in there and emptied a container of boric acid (powder) in there and let it sit for a few weeks. Washed it thoroughly with water and let it dry in the sun. Never had any more holes since.
 

wayne

New User
wayne
Wayne, that's a great suggestion re finding a paint shop.

Boracare is not as desirable an option on furniture (it is fine on framing lumber though) because it is mixed with water. In order to impart a high enough concentration on the wood, it has to be saturated (which is not a good idea for dry furniture...)
If you can find a small shop with a heated paint booth usually the air makeup system is capable of maintaining 140 degrees when drying paint.
I'm sure if you can find one willing to bake it for you they'll make you sign some sort of hold harmless statement but what have the table owners got to loose.

The boric acid powder was a good sugesstion but kinda hard to bag a 4'x10' table.
 

CrealBilly

Jeff
Senior User
Pesky NC PPB were my arch enemy until I moved to Southern IL. I was a big advocate of kiln sterilizing or boric acid.
 

chris_goris

Chris
Senior User
I had about 200 BF of birch that was full of these pests at one time. I investigated all sorts of options, I ended up burning it all!. But in this instance, you could tent the entire table in place in the house. Completely enclose it with tarps and or plastic. Once you tent it, you could then heat the tent, I was investigating simply using light bulbs or electric space heaters (seems like over kill) until you reach the temps as Scott indicated.


Tim, she needs to heat the table until the core of the boards reach of temp of 133F or greater for 30 minutes. If the table can be dismantled, this can be accomplished at home by sticking it in a hot attic for a week or two.

Some folks recommend fumigation or cold treatments; however these methods have not been proven to successfully kill the PPB larvae in the wood.
 

farmerbw

Brian
Corporate Member
You can also use 30% Ammonium Hydroxide (technical grade) to get rid of them and tenting a table isn't that difficult. I had a friend who successfully tented a completed kitchen table after I inquired about it here a while back. His treatment was successful and he hasn't seen any more evidence of activity. Just remember if you go this route that this is a very caustic chemical and appropriate protection is required. Here's the thread where my inquiry was discussed if you're interested.

Also here's the outline that David shared.

But there's two alternatives that're guaranteed, does not require re-finishing or dissassembly, nor does it leave any residue behind.

The first is the quickest and probably easiest, and that's ammonia fuming. Your friend can simply buy a large enough tarp to completely cover the furniture, with enough left over so that it can be sealed to the ground (or a driveway). Note that this treatment will kill everything under the tarp, so doing this on a lawn is probably a no-no unless re-seeding is desirable.

Anyway - purchase some 30% Ammonium Hydroxide (technical grade - the cheapest) from Thermo-Fisher in Raleigh, place the furniture on a concrete surface, or a dirt surface that doesn't have any desirable plants, place the tarp over the furniture, and weight down the tarp all the way around it. One way to weight it and make sure that little gas will escape is to shovel some dirt/sand around the edge of the tarp.

Using a carbon respirator (you can get a very effective one from Home Depot for about $20), pour the ammonia in a wide, low plastic container, and place it under the tarp. Wait 12 hours. Un-tarp the furniture and allow it to "air out" for another 12 hours. Presto - instant sterilization.

Note that this treatment may change the color of the stain on the furniture. It will -probably- darken it, but one might want to do a test piece to be sure.

The second way is a bit more involved, but does not require any chemicals. Buy a roll of thick painter's plastic sufficiently wide to make a bag around the biggest pieces of furniture. Buy some oxygen-scavenger packets (these are packets of iron filings and a catalyst that will react and sequester oxygen from the air). Make an envelope around each piece of furniture, include about 20 of the oxygen scavenger packets, seal the plastic with double-sided tape, and then tape the seams with the foil-type duct tape. You will know that the oxygen scavengers are working because the envelopes will deflate slightly as the oxygen reacts with the iron.

Leave this for 10 days, checking to ensure that there are no holes in the envelopes. The lack of oxygen will kill the borers and their eggs, with no residue and no stripping required.
HTH,
B.
 
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