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    John Phillips

    Hi there! I have been given wood from an old covered bridge that was on my grandparent’s property. I have several massive oak beams and planks. This wood is fantastic and tells many stories of my family history that is so important to me. I have struck gold! I would like to bring this wood into my shop , which is in my basement. I don’t see any evidence of live bugs but before I bring it inside my home, what would be a safe way to ensure that there are no more bugs in this wood? Should I stack it properly outside with airflow and a tarp and leave it through the winter. Would a good hard freeze for a winter season take care of the issue or not? I’m not a fan of chemicals and don’t really want to introduce that to the wood if I don’t have to (unless there are organic options). Any ideas?

    Larry Geib

    This has been sitting here unanswered, but it is probably worth an answer for anybody recycling wood.

    The easiest method for killing hitchhikers is heat. The USDA says that a temperature of 56°C (133°F) for 30 minutes will kill most beetles and borers. Up it to 60°C (140°F) for an hour will sanitize the wood.

    Considering that a tin shed can get considerably hotter, it shouldn’t be too difficult to rig a method to do that in most climates in the summer.

    I built some cat trees out of driftwood a while back for a charity (it’s amazing what people will pay for cat related things at charity auctions) and used a steam chest at another guy’s shop normally used for bending wood. We Steamed for two hours and let it cool in the chest.
    Some woods like Apple and pear will turn a nice rosewood color if they are steamed.

    Before I fount the steam chest, I was considering pouring boiling water down the borer holes, but that was a small batch.

    Or you could send the wood to a drying kiln. Fees are pretty modest if you deliver the wood and pick it up. If you tell them it is to kill insects and they don’t actually have to dry the wood, you might get it cheaper. They usually work well above 60°C.


    This reply is a little off-topic @John, but quite funny.
    You’ve reminded me when one Christmas, I brought the tree indoors to cut the bottom few inches off the trunk, and stood it up for all to see!
    I gave it a gentle ‘thud’ on the floor to flare the branches, and THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of bugs, of all shapes and sizes, fell from the branches and scarpered in all directions, like a bug-blanket spreading across our cream carpet. Everyone screamed, then they ran…

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