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Author Topic: This is why you always sanitize lumber  (Read 2963 times)

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Offline Southside

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This is why you always sanitize lumber
« on: December 19, 2018, 06:25:08 PM »
Had a customer come by today who needed help with a table he was building. He had purchased some reclaimed pine, 56 BF for $350, and had glued it up when he realized it was not flat, so he brought it over in hopes I could help get it where he needed it to be.  I had asked if the lumber had been heat treated as I could see some PPB type holes and he said he didn't think so. 

After some hemming and hawing I decided to throw it onto the 70 to get a straight face to it. 

The photo shows what came out of the lumber after cutting less than 1/8" away, all living, crawling, buzzing, unhappy carpenter bees. 



 



 

Suffice to say he is not a happy camper at the moment. Took plenty of photos and videos, in hopes the seller will be decent about it. What I found odd was that some of the board ends had been sealed with something along the lines of Bondo. 

He was planning on selling the table so I am glad we discovered this issue now and not when it was in his customers house.
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2018, 06:33:19 PM »
Aint that something?  
It amazes me that people will spend so much money on raw wood and not even consider the ramifications of unsterilized wood.  

 
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Offline charles mann

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2018, 08:52:27 PM »
adds character. sell for more once completed.  :D

what would be a good treatment for pecan, walnut and red oak? something i can apply while its air drying, but before the kiln?
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Online DWyatt

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2018, 09:06:08 PM »
I've been having this conversation with a coworker lately about sterilization of lumber and what exactly it means. He doesn't have the background with woodworking to completely understand it all, but he is a thorough researcher beyond normal. Him and his wife are finishing off their basement and having a local guy who works with reclaimed pallet material build them some doors & fancy walls and what not. I asked if the lumber had been kiln dried & sterilized prior to being installed in his house and tried to explain that it was a valid question to ask the guy. I might as well been talking to a wall, it might have been more effective, he my be thorough in his research but he has put a mind block on this aspect of his project since I brought it up. I hope for their sake something like this does not happen.

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2018, 10:55:21 PM »
I have people ask me about sterilization quite frequently, generally from people who buy wood from other sources who dont sterilize and say its not necessary. Especially the reclaimed wood market.  

I always ask people if they would consider buying a house without a termite bond?  Or if their bank would let them buy a house without a termite bond?  Of course not.

I then ask them if they have ever put a piece of wood outside, on the ground that ever didnt get bugs in it?  Of course not.

Then I ask them if the reclaimed wood has bug holes in it?  Of course it does.

Then I ask them if they have done anything to kill the bugs in the wood that has bug holes in it that has been left outside or in a barn?  Of course not.  At most it has been run through a molder. 

Then I ask them, how foolish does it sound to incorporate wood that has been left outside, that has known bug holes in it, that has had nothing done to kill the bugs, and bring it inside and nail it to their walls as paneling and not think the bugs wont thank them for it???.

Then I ask them what their insurance guy would say? :D

I then tell them the story of a guy I know who built a headboard out of unsterilized, air dried cherry who had the joy of him and his wife being awoken a daylight one morning by bugs coming out of the wood.  The wife was NOT happy.




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Offline BenTN

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2018, 06:55:07 AM »
Not to down play the effects of kiln sterilization, but I wonder how well a borate treatment works in comparison on reclaimed or outdoor stored lumber. Kilns are hard to find these days for the average joe to sterilize a 100Bf of project lumber. Has anyone used borates such as Timbor to treat reclaimed/outdoor stored lumber successfully?

Online Don P

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2018, 07:20:42 AM »
From another angle, I work on houses and barns, often the bugs are already there. So I borate. On the current job there was a termite trail up the foundation to every joist end. We had to remove and replace the floor and I called the termite guys. For carpenter bees borate does nothing since they aren't ingesting the wood they are just nesting. For ppb's and termites it helps but only if there is enough and it gets them as they emerge and pass through the borated layer. I keep my eyes open for frass and inject those holes again. If I could tent and bring the heat up to that level I would. Conversely, when sterilized lumber cools it can be attacked by those same insects. When I was younger my Dad had a callback in one of his new houses, ppb's were emerging from the oak flooring. The rep told him that the kiln doesn't kill the eggs, baloney, they had a storage issue, the bugs were moving back into their stored lumber. So there is nothing wrong with doing both. My air drying lumber is often attacked, I've come back from lunch to find a party going on in late spring on my freshly sawn lumber, so I like to borate susceptible wood right off the mill, that does help.
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Offline BenTN

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2018, 07:30:42 AM »
Don that makes sense. I hadn't thought about the nesting insects such as carpenter bees and ants not injesting the borate. Sounds like kiln sterilization with an after treatment of borate is good but keeping lumber stored in controlled space directly after sterilization is best and only sure way.

Online Don P

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2018, 07:42:48 AM »
Actually do the borate before the kiln right off the saw, it travels on the wet by diffusion so penetrates green wood much deeper, also rewetting dry wood is not a good thing.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2018, 08:40:17 AM »
Good info from Yellow Hammer.

Two things that have been mentioned, but may be overlooked.

1.  To be effective, the borates need to essentially penetrate throughout the wood being treated. A surface treatment may prevent new insects from getting into the inside of the wood but will not control existing infestations.  The borates are in a water solution, so treating dry wood means that the wood will now be soaking wet and has to be dried again. 

 (Would you be happy if your child had a baby crib that you made with borate treated lumber?  As your child chews on the railing- -we called it teething- -are the borates he/she eats ok?  So, be careful on the uses that borate treated wood can potentially be used for.  In fact, I do wonder if you treat with borates if you also have to provide the customer with an MSDS paper.)

2.  Once wood is sterilized by heating to 133 F throughout, then any insects and eggs present are dead.  However, the heat treatment does not prevent future infestations.  The good news is that once dry, there are only 3 insects that like dry wood and in North America, these insects (except the termite) move from one piece to another and thereby develop a new infection by being in very close proximity.  So storage of dry, heated wood in a clean room without any infected lumber is a safe process.  This does mean that storage facilities should be vacuumed, as small wood particles can transmit eggs and insects.

It is always surprising how much concern about insects  that small operations have.  The big operations take no special steps, other than using heat in kiln drying and then clean storage.
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Offline BenTN

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2018, 10:22:20 AM »
Good info and food for thought. Thanks Don and Gene

Offline YellowHammer

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2018, 10:41:07 AM »

Picture of fried dead bug coming out of the wood during a kiln sterilization cycle.  Cooked before he knew it.  

Here my process for avoiding bugs. Use fresh logs.  Dont let them sit around to attract bugs. If there are bug holes in the lumber trim that off while sawing.

Then kiln dry and sterilize.

Then store in a closed building and keep the doors down.

The building gets professionally sprayed by our bug man, the same guy who sprays our house monthly. Crack and corner, kills spider and other critter.  Mice traps. 

No bugs in the wood, no mice, etc. basically a very low effort approach as long as I follow the routine.

I dont spray anything anymore or do any other major steps.  

I keep my eyes open and never bring green or unprocessed wood into the building. 

As another note, with live edge slabs, I dont think I have ever processed a kiln load of live edge wood that didnt have fried dead bugs laying on the boards when I inspected them after sterilization 
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Online Don P

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #12 on: December 20, 2018, 07:13:45 PM »
I suspect the heavy metals and real toxins in the finish will get them long before boron does.

Quote
Boron seems to affect the way the body handles other minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It also seems to increase estrogen levels in older (post-menopausal) women and healthy men. Estrogen is thought to be helpful in maintaining healthy bones and mental function.


  • Improves Brain Function. ...
  • Reduces Osteoarthritis Symptoms. ...
  • Prevents and Treats Yeast Infections with Boric Acid. ...
  • Helps Metabolize Insulin. ...
  • Helps with Kidney Stones. ...
  • Supports Metabolic Processes. ...
  • Protects Against Oxidative Stress. ...
  • Prevents Vitamin D Deficiency
Not to worry, it is available in relatively high levels in many foods we eat so you are likely getting enough from regular sources. Remember the very same borate is field applied to many crops that we then ingest in much higher quantities, even as infants, than you'll get from cribbing.

Edit;
While looking for a link on the USFPL website I saw some interesting research in progress;
https://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/rips/fplrip-4723-037-MichiganStateU-Nejad-Ohno.pdf
I've been curious what effect borate has on gluelines. Looks like we'll know in 2020. They are testing pressure treated borated lumber in cross laminated timber panels for interior use.
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Offline Brad_bb

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #13 on: December 24, 2018, 02:04:25 AM »
YH may not like my thoughts.  I've been using a lot of barnwood for trim and baseboard etc- Mostly oak, but a little hard maple, walnut, and ash mixed in.  I do not heat treat that hardwood.  The only thing I've found that can be in it is PPB.  From everything I've read and observed, they have a pretty slow cycle.  I've been installing and finishing the wood (General finish High Performance flat).  Once the existing larvae hatch out, they should not re-infest due to the finish blocking the adults from tasting the starch.  Also, the wood is inside conditioned space, so adults looking to lay should be greatly reduced.  Also before using the wood, I look for frass piles to know if there is significant infestation or not, which there really has not been.  I don't really mind some PPB holes in barnwood.

Now if the wood were pine, or poplar, which I do have some of, if I'd recently received it, I would consider heat treating.  I have been using some poplar barn rafters.  They have old signs of carpenter bees in places, but the boards have been inside for a year and a half, so thinking I'm pretty save, I installed them.  

I did resaw some poplar rafters in half and it exposed the bee tunnels perfectly.  Nothing live, but a really cool look.

The place where I'd be most apt to sterilize or borate treat is softwoods, and newly sawn hardwood(from the last few years) where I do see some evidence of frass piles.  Mostly in oak and cherry.  They don't seem to touch the walnut or Ash much at all.  I have been treating Ash T&G that's going up in my barn with Permachink's Shellguard - a borate in alcohol solvent to help it penetrate.  This is to reduce future PPB activity.  An oil finish is going on it too.

I think you just have to think about the situation and the conditions of your material.  I don't blame guys like YH at all.  If you're selling a product, you don't want a reason for customers to be put off, or that purdy QS oak to be blemished.

I wouldn't think heat treatment would have helped the original poster.  It seems that the bees/larvae were already in his wood.  If you then sterilized it, you would have killed them, but when you planed the wood, you would have still exposed them and their tunnels?
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Offline Percy

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #14 on: December 24, 2018, 12:23:49 PM »
  The wife was NOT happy.
:D :D :D :D :D :D no more home made stuff in his house :D :D :D :D :D IKEA be grinning :D :D :D :D I feel bad for laughing :D :D :D :D :D :D
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Offline gdaddy01

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2019, 03:27:32 PM »
with all of these problems is it worth it to saw ones on lumber as a hobby ? just bought a used wm mill and have been pulling logs to get ready to saw , but after reading the problems with checking , bugs etc. don't know if I have made a mistake .

Offline moodnacreek

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2019, 07:27:23 PM »
Carpenter bees and ppb are a problem for me. Our ppb's increase with wet weather and that's all we get anymore. Other than sapwood just under the bark they do not bother conifers, cherry, walnut, and oak unless it was infected in the logs. Not too bad in soft maple but hard maple, hickory [the worst] tulip and elm. I found that pine is safe from c. bees on 1" stickers the hard way.  My yard is a mess with rotten wood on the ground and shaded areas.  I have started to  notice [thanks Dr. W.] that my cleaner unshaded, windier piles have no ppb.  So have to clean up and cut more trees. As far as a kiln. never happen as I can't keep up with the logs coming in.

Offline barbender

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2019, 07:45:30 PM »
gdaddy01, whether it's worth it or not depends on what you're looking to get out of your sawing effort. There is a learning curve to all of it, for most of us it's part of the adventure😊
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Offline YellowHammer

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2019, 08:03:39 PM »
gdaddy,
Sawing lumber as hobby is a wonderful thing, but like anything, its best to know the issues.  Like piloting a boat up a river, its always best to know where the rocks are before you hit them. :P

The best way to avoid bugs is to mill logs that come from fresh, healthy, trees.  Then pick logs that are relatively immune to bugs like poplar, sassafras, walnut.  Don't let them sit around, mill them fresh, and when you cut the wood, stack it in an open, airy spot.  Spray it with Timbor or the like.  Put a cover over it.  Stack it on flat ground on concrete blocks.  It'll be OK. 8)

I have to take such extreme efforts because we sell wood as a business, can't use chemicals, and although its a little intimidating, I must have the confidence and chops to stand behind my product, to sell my wood to customers or builders who are buying it because they are replacing, under an insurance claim and lawsuit, wood that they bought from someone else which wasn't sterilized and had and caused insect damage.  That will give you second thoughts and make your skin crawl as a business owner, I guarantee it and make durn sure the old kiln hit the magic 150F for a day!

About not having a kiln, you just have to play the game a little tighter.  When I first started, I had a perfect place to stack lumber, I thought.  It was backed into the woods, on the edge of a field, never got any wind, always in the shade, etc.  Perfect.... Wrong....It was absolutely wrong for stacking wood.  What lumber didn't mold up got chewed up.  Bugs, mice, fuzzy toxic alien mold, a snake or two, etc.  I could not have picked a worse place to dry wood, unless it was in a cave. :D   Fast forward a few loads of ruined wood and I selected a spot on the Alabama clay, hard as a rock, on a hill, lots of sun, lots of wind, total 360 exposure.  I stacked the wood, Anchorsealed the ends, hosed it down with Timbor, put some tin on top, and presto, excellent wood.  The two places weren't more than a 100 yards apart.
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Offline gdaddy01

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Re: This is why you always sanitize lumber
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2019, 08:49:40 AM »
thanks for the info fellows , I was getting kind of discouraged and have not even started yet . I will stack the lumber as y'all have said and let the wood peckers take care of the bugs .


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