Powder Post Beetles in Furniture

A woodworker sees the exit holes and decides to bake some wood. January 18, 2011

I was dismayed to notice this morning the exit holes of powder post beetles (I'm assuming), in the frames of two cherry cabinet doors, in a sideboard I'm building. The stiles and rails were all made from the same board, and a close inspection of the rest of the piece seems to indicate that the problem is limited to the board in question (for now).

I've read the information regarding powder post beetles in the Knowledge Base and I'm thinking to put the two doors in my kitchen oven overnight on the lowest setting, and hope they survive (the doors that is). Has anyone tried this approach? Should I quarantine the rest of the wood from that batch? I live in the north, and I can turn my shop into an ice box by simply leaving the heat off.

The damage is small enough that I doubt the client will notice, but I worry about the possibility of infecting the other cherry furniture I've made for him (in his house). Should I be concerned?

I have over 80 hours invested in this piece, and the idea of tossing the whole thing makes me sick to my stomach. I've talked to the local exterminator, and I suspect he can't do much for me besides wave a spray can of general insecticide around my shop.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor O:
I live in western Canada , and we have a beetle problem in our forests . Last year in the winter we had a cold spell where it was minus 40-45 for a week and a half . Everyone was saying that the cold should kill off the beetles, but no such luck. Come spring they were back . I don't think cold is your solution and I donít know about heat killing them off. It may dry out your doors too much and cause other issues.

From contributor S:
Fortunately for you, this has come up before and has been well discussed - see the Knowledge Base search link below. You are not the first to be looking at this problem and its fixes.

Powder Post Beetles

From contributor G:
As a 'post post beetle posting' - I should have read further before asking the question. Sorry for re-hashing already discussed topics. I've cleaned out all my off-cuts and a couple suspect pieces of wood. I plan to put the doors in my oven, wrapped in a plastic bag with a thermometer for several hours, and hope for the best.

From Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Are you going to use about 150 F with a pot of water in the oven to keep it fairly humid? Several hours should indeed take care of them. Unfortunately, you may have some of the beetles that hatched in your shop. Further, you may note that the supplier of the wood is the source of the beetles and so it may be on other pieces of lumber from the same supplier. The beetles hatch with warmth. In addition to the unsightly holes, they can riddle the inside of wood with tunnels and can spread, so prompt action to isolate potentially infected wood and then heat to stop further activity is important. As always, the most common source of the insects is from foreign wood stored with the native wood.
Note that cold never does or never will kill them or their eggs.

From contributor O:
"The damage is small enough that I doubt the client will notice, but I worry about the possibility of infecting the other cherry furniture I've made for him (in his house) should I be concerned?"

Yes! He may decide to send you the bill for having his house de-bugged (very expensive).

From the original questioner:
As a postscript to my problem, and for the benefit of those who find themselves with a similar infestation, I'm pleased to announce that baking my cabinet doors in the oven seems to have worked. I used a meat thermometer and sat fretting like a nervous hostess cooking a roast!

Wrapping everything in plastic helps to prevent drying parts too drastically, and Geneís suggestion of adding a pan of water also helped. If I were to do it again, I would drill a discreet hole for the meat thermometer, to better gauge the internal temperature of the wood.