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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Had a (what I think is Elm) tree fall in the very back of my land so I decided to saw it and bring to the bandsaw to get some slabs. After opening it I can see spalting marks and beetle tracks. I absolutely love the markings by both and was wondering if it can be used in a project? I’m thinking bandsaw boxes and other quirky decor. Any reason I should walk away and use it for firewood instead?
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We made rubber stamps from Mountain Pine Beetle tracks.
Lift off the dead bark until you see something nice.
I used dental picks and old tooth brushes to clean the frass out of all the tunnels.


Soak the wood piece in water with a couple of drops of kitchen dish soap.
Butter the track pattern with bathtub silicone then mush in the backing board.
Wait 24-48 hours and peel off your rubber stamp.

Personally for big track like you have, I'd just clean it all out, poly and hang it on the wall.
 

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I have a kind of similar question. Normally I don't mind tracks in things because I get my wood from nature normally, and I epoxy resin my projects...so it adds a whimsical character. But I bought this piece of oak from someone for not cheap, and I've had it for like a year. I just moved and left it outside for like a week and I notice sap weeping out. So I investigate and googled
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it and it's probably beetle larvae destroying my wood. I'm sure they are alive in there having a grand old time in my $80 piece of wood. So I went crazy with a multi tool like a starving woodpecker and now I got all these tunnels in my wood and just want them out. So you think I could fill these with water and force them out or will they just drown in there. And if I do, now there's a bunch of beetle grub carcasses in there and now my dry wood is wet from the inside out. I am pretty angry because I had a couple plans I wanted to do with this piece.
 

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I absolutely love the markings by both and was wondering if it can be used in a project?
Smallish projects should be fine, since the wood wouldn't need to be so beefy, structurally, especially if your tree was lightening struck. Lightening produces significant damage to the wood structure.... and the bugs seem to know it. On lightening struck wood spalting develops faster and more readily, than with other dead wood.

If your tree fell after about a year or so of being dead, then I suspect it was lightening struck..... the root support typically decays really fast With an otherwise elder tree that dies, the dead snag can remain standing for a long, long time before falling.

As to the possibility of any bugs remaining in the wood, and you're using small pieces, fire up the BBQ pit and heat the wood (away from flame) for a bit. Edited: Exposed to flame, you might like the additional charred look, also.

Sonny
 

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Powder Post Beetles can be very destructive. In my experience, if there’s infestation, you’ll see powder under the board. The beetles are not to be messed with. You don’t. Want them in your house.

The wood is really cool. I think I’d be inclined to contact a local exterminator for advice, or see if there’s a lumber kiln nearby. As I understand it, the kiln drying process will kill any insects.
 

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It might help if there were a ruler or tape measure in the pic, to see what size boards and tracks we're looking at. "Slabs" are mentioned and, to me, a slab is a large thick board. A typical 1" thick, 6" wide board is not a slab. I can't tell if those boards are 1" or 2" thick, or 6" wide or 12" wide.

If the boards are about 2" thick and 12" wide, then I don't think those tracks were made by PPBs. The tracks' diameter/width appear too large for PPBs. If this is correct, then some other grub made them, probably one of the larger flat head or round head wood boring grubs. Again, a ruler would help us see the size of the tracks. If a grub was discovered, that would also help.

If the boards are about 1" thick and 6" wide, then those tracks may be PPB tracks. Might be elm bark beetle or emerald ash borer, also.
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Do a home treatment to a few boards. Make a project and put it in an outdoor facility. Stash other unused boards in storage. See what happens with each, i.e., further decay, further bug damage, etc., then decide what else do with the lumber.

Sonny
 

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Quite a few years back I bought some mesquite from a saw mill that swore they kiln dry everything. Label that BS. Anyway, I had the boards sitting around and when I finally found a project for them, there was the telltale saw dust on the floor. I immediately removed them from the shop and burned them in a camp fire. It didnt matter to me how much I paid for them, I was not going to keep it in my shop or make furniture and put it in my house or anyone else's house. I wouldn't even entertain the thought of trying to rid the worms/beetles from the wood. If I had the proper kiln and knew the proper procedure, I probably still would not have considered re-drying it. Re-kiln drying would probably cause other problems.
It's your house, your furniture and your decision.
 

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Had a (what I think is Elm) tree fall in the very back of my land so I decided to saw it and bring to the bandsaw to get some slabs. After opening it I can see spalting marks and beetle tracks. I absolutely love the markings by both and was wondering if it can be used in a project? I’m thinking bandsaw boxes and other quirky decor. Any reason I should walk away and use it for firewood instead?
View attachment 438691
View attachment 438692
Have it kiln dried and you will be good to go. Kiln drying kills any insects, parasites, and mold that may be present. I used to do some work for a pest control company. We had an agreement, nothing from his jobs goes in any of my trucks. I did not want to bring those insects back to my lumber supply, shop, or home.
 

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Quite a few years back I bought some mesquite from a saw mill that swore they kiln dry everything. Label that BS. Anyway, I had the boards sitting around and when I finally found a project for them, there was the telltale saw dust on the floor.
Tony, I think there's a mis-assumption as to the scenario you've described. You can't necessarily blame the kiln for the infestation you subsequently experienced. After kiln drying, you allowed your lumber to sit around, I assume for a good while. Your infestation may have occurred during this sitting around period and not a continued infestation because of lack of kiln drying or lack of the kiln drying process.

On the other hand, the kiln may have done an appropriate job of kiln drying the lumber and it was THEY who allowed the lumber to sit around, before you purchased it. It may have been their sitting around period that facilitated the infestation, that you subsequently purchased.

Your statement kind of suggests that, once kiln dried, the bugs will not infest your lumber, hence the only way your lumber was infested was the result of the kiln not doing their drying job. Kiln drying does not prevent subsequent infestation. If that were the case, then assuming most wood in one's home has been kiln dried, then there would be little to no worry about bugs infesting wood inside one's home.

Not to argue or be rude, here, but some readers may draw a somewhat wrong conclusion about the happenings you described.

What's even worse than someone drawing the wrong conclusion is that you lost out, no matter what cause, on your good intentioned mesquite investment.

Sonny
 

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I dont know how you actually get an infestation, but it would think it is unlikely to happen in a metal building surrounded by lots of other commercial steel buildings and lots of concrete pavement and no trees - just metal buildings.
As for having an infestation originating in your home, I think that would be a pretty slim chance. I never had it and no one I know has ever had it. if I did have an infestation that I gave to the mesquite in question, it would have shown up elsewhere.
And BTW, no other wood in my shop has any signs of infestation and believe my, I watched it close. If there was an infestation in my other stock even a year or so later, I'm pretty certain I would have heard from the Interior Designers and Decorators.
 

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I got a haul of coastal oak (absolutely beautiful wood), that had considerable infestation of powder post beetles like shown in your photos. I first called an exterminator to ask about it and he said that powder post beetles are mostly found in damp wood (like freshly cut) because they need the water; they do not typically attack wood that is dried to typical woodworking levels (8ish%), nor dimensional wood that is commonly found in house frames unless you live in a damp area.

Good to not let them near anything, though. I took the haul to get fumigated and then coated it with insecticide that I think was called "termite-pruf." Problem gone. I still use the wood and occasionally find the dead, dried beetles. But no more powder mounds or fresh holes.
 

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Had a (what I think is Elm) tree fall in the very back of my land so I decided to saw it and bring to the bandsaw to get some slabs. After opening it I can see spalting marks and beetle tracks. I absolutely love the markings by both and was wondering if it can be used in a project? I’m thinking bandsaw boxes and other quirky decor. Any reason I should walk away and use it for firewood instead?
View attachment 438691
View attachment 438692
I believe that critter looks more like a long grub worm instead of being a beetle. It's possible there are still live woodworms still in the wood. I see those often when I split firewood. Your best bet would be to find some way to heat the wood to be sure there isn't still an infestation. Anyway there isn't the risk like if it was something like powder post beetles where they would spread out into your house and eat that too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you for everyone’s input. I decided to cut the pieces that are pictured above and try to investigate if anything was inside. Although I didn’t find any larvae, I did see three tiny looking beetles (about 1/4”) so I threw those pieces in the fire pit. The remaining pieces from the slab do not show signs of any entry holes so I proceeded to cut them into manageable pieces. I have ordered a moisture meter which will hopefully indicate to me if the wood is ready for a project. I also ordered some Timbor pesticide and will spray the pieces just incase.
Thanks again to everyone’s input, I am leaning a lot because of this community!
 

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The big tracks in the OP’s pics are big larva.

What you’ve got in your log is powder post beetles. The larva can emerge up to 4 years after infestation.

What TimPA and Tony B relate experiences I’ve had myself. Misunderstanding the sawmill I thought the poplar was kiln dried. 2 years later I see little holes in the doors of a cabinet. Dead adult flies on the ground (We have our house routinely treated by a pest control).

I also burned an entire kitchens worth of precut lumber.

Sorry, but IMO it’s firewood. It was probably sitting around a while wherever it was sawn.

+1 on the borate treatment. It really does work but do it immediately once the larvae have bored below the surface it won’t work. Also, if you leave the bark on you’re guaranteed to get inset damage of some kind.
 

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@John Smith_inFL
Many moons ago, there was a moderator on here named Daren or Darren - dont remember proper spelling. He owned an urban sawmill. He had written many replies to questions regarding borers like worms and Powder Post Beetles. He was usually very lengthy and informative regarding kiln operations including drying temps and time. I am not having any luck finding his old postings on here. Anyway you can pull up some of this info?
Thanks in advance.
 

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........... bought this piece of oak from someone for not cheap, and I've had it for like a year. I just moved and left it outside for like a week and I notice sap weeping out. So I investigate and googled View attachment 438695
it and it's probably beetle larvae destroying my wood.
................So you think I could fill these with water and force them out or will they just drown in there. And if I do, now there's a bunch of beetle grub carcasses in there and now my dry wood is wet from the inside out. I am pretty angry because I had a couple plans I wanted to do with this piece.
You will be a lot angrier if you keep this piece. Ask yourself these questions: "If I keep this piece will i get any sleep? Is my furniture and my house worth the risk? Will the encouragers pay for any damage I will suffer?"
I say cut your $80 loss and move on.
 

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Thank you for everyone’s input. I decided to cut the pieces that are pictured above and try to investigate if anything was inside. Although I didn’t find any larvae, I did see three tiny looking beetles (about 1/4”) so I threw those pieces in the fire pit. The remaining pieces from the slab do not show signs of any entry holes so I proceeded to cut them into manageable pieces. I have ordered a moisture meter which will hopefully indicate to me if the wood is ready for a project. I also ordered some Timbor pesticide and will spray the pieces just incase.
Thanks again to everyone’s input, I am leaning a lot because of this community!
I think if you just set the wood up somewhere for a few days and watch it you would get more info. If there was anything live in it you would start seeing piles of sawdust under the wood.

If though there is nothing alive in the wood the next problem will be to keep the sawdust the critter made from falling out. Then it would be channels with open holes all in it. You might need to thin some wood glue and apply it to the spots letting the thinned glue soak in making it more like wood putty.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I think if you just set the wood up somewhere for a few days and watch it you would get more info. If there was anything live in it you would start seeing piles of sawdust under the wood.

If though there is nothing alive in the wood the next problem will be to keep the sawdust the critter made from falling out. Then it would be channels with open holes all in it. You might need to thin some wood glue and apply it to the spots letting the thinned glue soak in making it more like wood putty.
I threw the “holey ” pieces away which on most were on or close to the sapwood. I put the remaining pieces through the planer to clean them up a little so I could inspect for holes. I will be inspecting these pieces everyday.
 

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My experience is eventually all the larva emerge as adults. I’ve got a lot of air dried lumber that I ignorantly neglected to treat with borate and became infested by PPB’s. Its been sitting around for a few years but there are no signs of active infestation. I don’t know why this happens, but it happens. My conclusion is once wood has dried enough the PPB’s don’t invade it. Same reason they don’t invade kiln dried lumber because the nutrient levels have dropped compared to green wood.

My understanding is they can‘t infect lumber that is painted or finished. That said, I still won’t use it for anything going inside a house it just makes me nervous.

Also, you may see an occasional hole when milling and don’t ever dismiss them. Larva can emerge up to 4 years later. As I mentioned, I had emergence holes appear in 3 painted doors andvarious places in a bathroom vanity from that same bunch of poplar. I only noticed an occasional borer hole when milling and didn’t see any signs of active infection. I‘ve removed them and there are no more signs of emergence, so I went a head with repairs.

There are numerous sites with information that is worth reading.
 
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