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Controlling Bugs in Finished Furniture

Fumigation or spraying are ineffective and have drawbacks. Instead, here's a tip for heat-treating furniture. April 24, 2013

I got an unhappy call yesterday from a store where our tables are for sale. Little piles of dust underneath a spalted maple coffee table. We immediately picked it up. Guess we grabbed up a piece of maple that hadn't been kilned when making it. Now what to do? Don't have a kiln, too big for the oven and microwave. It's sealed with tung oil with a little varnish mixed in. There's nothing I can spray it with, is there? Pretty table, hate to lose it, burn it, whatever.

Forum Responses
(Furniture Making Forum)
From contributor D:
I've had this problem with air dried pine that I built a 10' long dining table with. I brought it back to the shop and built a box around it with 1/2" sheetrock. I used a propane space heater to slowly bring up the temperature to 165 degrees, and let it stay there for a couple hours. I used a meat thermometer to monitor the heat. When it was done, I shut off the heater and let it cool slowly overnight. The next day I was surprised to find the table was in good shape, including the pre-cat lacquer finish. The bugs were cooked, and I had no further problems with it. I probably spent $75 on the sheetrock and heater rental, plus a few hours. In my case it was definitely worth it, as it saved a several thousand dollar piece.

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Sprays will not work, as the critters are in the wood. Heat or commercial fumigation are your two choices. The insects likely have made tunnels in the wood and may have compromised the strength and integrity by now. As this is likely the powder post beetle, it can spread to any other lumber, even previously kiln dried.