Woodworm

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Woodworm

Postby martin@no10 » 13 Jul 2007, 21:14

My question this time is on the unpleasant subject of woodworm. I have just spent the last hour or so tidying the cupboard I keep my puppets and guitars in - I am sure you can imagine my horror to discover a wooden marionette (the first one I carved in fact) with one lower leg and foot showing quite a number of woodworm holes. The figure is now in the wheely bin, bit of a pity I know, but worse things can happen in life, let's be honest. I have had a very careful look at the other figures in the cupboard & can't see any holes in them - apart from the holes where the strings go! Does anyone have any advice regarding how woodworm can be avoided (other than not using wood), and also if there is a realistic & practical way it can be treated on a figure, or was my solution the best one?
Regards, Martin
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Postby Chris » 13 Jul 2007, 22:48

There was no need to throw it away. If there are holes in the wood then these are flight holes. The lava have flown away.
However you should treat an infected item with woodworm killer - a liquid available from B&Q or Homebase or the like. These modern preparations not only kill off any eggs that are still in the wood, but also they serve to deter further attacks. You can buy aerosol cans with a nozzle so that you can squirt in the actual flight holes. But I prefer to get the large cans intended for brushing.

It would be an idea to treat the inside of your cupboard.

Once a figure has been treated it is an easy matter to fill in the holes with woodfiller. If the attack has been severe and areas of the wood are crumbly then you should treat those areas first with wood hardener before patching with wood filler.

Soft and open-grained woods are more vulnerable than harder woods - and sawn ends are vulnerable. They very rarely attack painted wood, although stained wood is as vulnerable as any.

Regular use of ordinary insecticide in your storeage areas will help to keep down the risk of initial infection.
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Postby Morris » 14 Jul 2007, 19:34

Stripping the wood of paint and suchlike and soaking it foe a few days in creasote may sound extreme but it is very effective as a woodworm repellant - I had to treat a stringless puppet with the stuff a couple of years ago. Once dry, lightly sanding it prepares it for re-painting with little difficulty. There are two disadvantages - it stains the wood dark brown, and some may find the smell offensive (such as my mother upon finding that her bathroom stank of it).
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Postby Chris » 14 Jul 2007, 22:56

Yes Morris, it is extreme, and bad advice. Creosote is used on rough, exterior timber to prevent rotting. But it is a dangerous substance and it is illegal to use wood treated with a dangerous substance indoors, where there are children, on toys etc. Your Mum was quite right to object to the smell. It is also thought to be carcinogenic.

Also I am not even certain that creosote would deter wood beetles since one form of creosote is naturally present in wood. Mind you, it is the coal tar version that is used as a wood preservative.

But much better to stick to the stuff made for the job as I suggested, and leave the creosote for the garden fence. Mind you the proper stuff doesn't smell very pleasant either - but it doesn't seem to linger as long as the creosote one.



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Postby Morris » 16 Jul 2007, 18:20

The creasote in question was the proper stuff, which is no longer available. I don't know about illegality on the mainland but it is certainly not illegal over here, merely inadvisable. Having just examined the wall next to my desk and discovered that it is indeed painted with white lead greenhouse paint, I will go and expire forthwith.
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Postby Chris » 16 Jul 2007, 18:41

While I admit that I did not know that the Channel Islands had different laws regarding use of dangerous substances I can't see that it alters my criticism of your advice in answer to Martin's question. And since you now say that the stuff you are suggesting is no longer available then there your answer seems even less helpful.



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Postby johnstoate » 16 Jul 2007, 20:12

Correct me if I'm wrong, (And I'm quite sure someone will if I am) but I've always understood that ordinary mothballs deter wood-boring insects as well, the main problem as far as puppets are concerned is that they are often carved from fruitwoods, used for their carving quality, which are (Unfortunately) also the preferred diet of the said beetles, otherwise I agree with Chris that they aren't particularly a problem in this day & age. I'd retrieve him from the bin forthwith, Martin! :)
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Postby martin@no10 » 16 Jul 2007, 20:24

Thanks for the useful replies. Having used creosote on a garden shed once I thought it was very unpleasant to work with, & tends to almost burn the skin - but maybe I'm just a wimp! I think it will be a trip to Homebase for some paint-on potion. Interesting about preferred diet of fruitwoods, as I use lime when carving puppets - it is obviously tasty to the creepy-crawlies as well as great to carve with! Can't retrieve figure from the bin as was emptied today. Everything else in the cupboard seems fine, but I will empty it and clart the wood frames with the potion as a precaution.
Thanks.
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Postby Morris » 16 Jul 2007, 20:33

Thank John, that's cleared up an odd point that I had noticed - that a wardrobe with mothballs in it doesn't seem to get woodworm.

As to keeping them away, I have a better suggestion, a substance called clove oil which is more commonly used to clean sword blades. According to my grandfather, that is effective against woodworm also (not that blades get woodworm of course).
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Postby Chris » 16 Jul 2007, 21:05

Oil of cloves is expensive, but marvellous for easing toothache during the inevitable wait before you can see the dentist. It also is a preservative and is used in puppetry to extend the life of flour or starch paste used in papie mache. The stuff still goes bad, but the smell of cloves is the stronger smell.




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Postby Tony James » 16 Jul 2007, 21:37

Sad to say the traditional mothball has been banned too for some reason beyond my understanding. There was an article only recently about the explosion in those little fawn coloured moths which eat their way through wool and animal hair textiles and similar.

Camphor wood deterrents are still available but nothing so effective as the now outlawed old fashioned moth ball. So if you come across any, hang on to them.
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