Wormy Cherry Lumber

A furnituremaker gets help figuring out what kind of critter made holes in his nice Cherry boards (and hears that some people consider them an improvement). April 21, 2008

I have some air dried local (Mississippi) cherry lumber that has worms in some pieces as per photo. The lumber has been in a warehouse for 20 years or more.

1) Is it safe to make furniture from this lumber? (I can work around the worst damage.)

2) Should I treat this lumber before making it into furniture, and if so, how and with what? Or will the finish (lacquer) seal them in and kill them?

3) I now have the lumber stored in a new warehouse with other lumber. Should I throw it out to protect the other, or treat it now? (The current warehouse has a concrete floor and no access to the ground for moisture as the other warehouse had.)

4) Do you know the identity of this worm?

Click here for higher quality, full size image

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor G:
I'm no expert, but to me, it looks like woodworm, which we finishers attempt to fake by poking holes with awls. It's considered a bonus in furniture. I'd say that kilning the wood will kill any bugs still in there, but I don't think you need worry about loss of value in the wood, if you use it craftily.

From contributor R:

Looks like most of the damage is from powderpost beetles. If I am correct you will have to kill them before you make furniture. Also, if this is the case, you need to remove it from the vicinity of the other lumber, as they will soon infect it.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
The holes look much larger than 1/32" to 1/16" diameter. Therefore, they are not the lyctid powderpost beetle, which is the beetle that gets into dry hardwoods. So, this is an insect that is present in wetter wood and it will not be active in dry lumber (under 20% MC)... probably an anobiid beetle. So, if you dry it, it will be fine... no risk of future damage. In any case, if you heat the wood to 130 F, you will kill all insects and eggs.

From contributor T:
Save that cherry! Use it for a special piece of furniture... Use high pressure air with small nozzle and blast the loose sawdust out of holes and pathways. If you do as above post suggests, you'll get a very happy customer!