How to kill woodworm

I’ve learned a lot about woodworm in these past few weeks, and I suppose if upholstery is going to be my thing then this is a good time to get to grips with these troublesome little creatures. Did you know that woodworm lie dormant for a vast proportion of the year? Or that they come out in late spring to start munching your furniture and then potentially your joists? Or that if you tap the offending piece of furniture and dust comes from the holes that’s a sure sign of live woodworm? No? Really? Well that’s a shame because you could have told me in the first place.

I have to admit that I was on a bit of a high after completing the ‘hare chair’ and eager to show it off. I had so many lovely remarks and it took pride of place in the living room for all to see, that is of course until I spotted a real, live woodworm sitting on the leg. Surprisingly, they’re not worms at all, they’re tiny grey beetles but irrespective of what they look like, this one was sat waving at me from across the room. Fearful for the future of our home I had to quarantine the chair without damaging the upholstery, the shower cubicle seemed like the perfect place – “it’s glass and resin and it has doors to contain an infestation” being the basis of my argument. Weirdly, putting it in what is effectively a glass case made it look like a museum piece which I quite liked, but the proximity to the loo brush sort of ruined the effect.

Long story short, I think I’ve fixed it. Options included smoking them out, painting the whole chair in highly flammable liquid or just setting light to it anyway. I settled on a treatment for squirting into the holes and studying on a regular basis for new ones appearing. This has been a real lesson learned and I’m viewing auction finds very differently as a result – had the seat frame been made from the same type of wood as the legs (they’re quite particular) I may have had to throw the whole thing away.

Anyway, onward and upward, bringing me to my next project (thoroughly checked for woodworm) an Adam style chair purchased some months ago at auction.

This one just caught my eye, and from what I can tell is well within my capabilities. It’s been re-upholstered recently and looks quite neat from the outside, but oddly enough it seems to be hollow in the middle with no support or stuffing. The challenge here is deciding how to rebuild it without the old upholstery acting as a guide, with the others I’ve been re-doing what was already there. This one might need springs which could be good fun!

I’ve also decided that this one is going to be for sale. At the beginning of the year I set a few goals in my head, and one of them was to have sold a piece before the end of 2011. While a couple of my chairs now reside in other peoples’ homes, no money has changed hands. Let’s see if I can make this the first genuine sale for The Cantin’ Patch.


5 thoughts on “How to kill woodworm

  1. oh now you have worried me – I have an old frame hanging on the wall that has woodworm holes and when I move it, dust comes out. Do I need to put it in the shower?

    The Adam style chair has a beautiful frame – cant wait to see what you do with it. And how exciting that it will be your first sale! You’ll have to do that whole tricky “deciding on pricing” thing though.

    So glad you are blogging all your progress – I love hearing and seeing what you are doing. Cant believe the pace you are moving at either – very inspiring Jon! x

    1. Put it in the shower immediately! You might be ok, but it could be worth treating it – I bought my treatment from amazon.

      We could get together and have a woodworm treatment party?

      I’m undecided on what kind of fabric to choose for this new chair – if you have any suggestions let me know!

  2. okay, so WHAT did you treat the chair w/? I live in Canada–where woodworm shipped over from the UK is supposed to DIE–and i am quite worried that an old cabinet I have has active woodworm. i noticed new exit holes and found a few bits of rickety wood inside the cabinet, and the sawdust. i think it’s all new, and so have moved the piece outside but suspect it’s probably now in my other furniture too

    so. what did you use? in Greece they inject petrol into the woodworm holes but there must be product. did you use s.thing called BoraCare? a borax based product?

    i am having a hard time sourcing anything in canada . ..


    1. Hi Kaz,

      I used an off the shelf treatment from a uk company – rentokil. It comes in a small tin and has a thin nozzle for squirting into the holes. Alternatively you can spread it onto the surface.

      I got it from Amazon – wonder if the Canadian amazon have anything similar or perhaps you could get it shipped from the uk site?

      Good luck!

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