this is my first time going from log to bowl, so please forgive me if I've made any really dumb mistakes.

I felled a birch and a beech tree (I'm in New England) and cut them into ~4-foot long sections to dry for a year or two before I put them on the lathe.

I made a double boiler and melted down some wax in order to seal the cut edges, and I think that part went OK.

However, a month after being sealed and left in my cool, dry barn for curing, I checked in and noticed many little cones of sawdust under the logs (see photo).

tiny holes and sawdust pile enter image description here

I don't mind wormholes or other small perforations in my finished products, but I certainly don't want to feed or shelter whatever pest this is if I don't have to.

I'd like to keep the wood food-safe, if possible, as I mostly make kitchen bowls and muddlers.

My question is: what is the best way to eliminate this pest?

Thanks for any help you can provide!


  • 2
    Might be helpful to include where in the world you are
    – mmathis
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 16:53
  • 1
    Potentially Related: woodworking.stackexchange.com/questions/821/…
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 3:55
  • 1
    It could be possible to pull some of the bark back and the more affected wood to see if something is hiding behind it.
    – Matt
    Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 3:57
  • We also have some home pests around here that eat out the wood of furniture, and buying petrol bottled at thr chemist and painting affected areas with it seems to drive them away. Commented Sep 10, 2016 at 7:51

2 Answers 2


There aren't a lot of pests that eat wood. This page provides a pretty good list, including:

Carpenter ants (see this page for id and control details) are large black ants that nest in structures causing damage.

Dry-rot fungi (see this page for id and control info) attack and weaken wood.

Powderpost beetle (see this page for id and control info) larvae bore in and damage hardwoods and softwoods.

Carpenter bees (see this page for id and control details) are large wood-boring bees that resemble bumble bees.

Termites (see this page for id and control info)

Your pictures rule out fungus. In my mind the lack of ants running around suggests it may not be carpenter ants, but I don't know. And termites in my experience leave finer sawdust than in your picture, usually mixed with droppings. If you could spot the actual insect it would be very helpful; look for bees, ants, beetles hanging around.

Wood wasps, certain types of moths, and other types of beetles are also possibilities.

You might also be interested in this write-up. Of particular interest is the section on wood borers, which may apply to your situation depending on the insect:

enter image description here

  • Thanks for the response! I think it's powder-post beetles, or carpenter ants...what should I do? As I said, I don't mind insect features, but I do mind insects remaining int he wood...
    – AKA
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 23:41
  • @AKA Well it's pretty easy to find tips for preventing or controlling infestations on the internet; so what you should do as a next step is just google for pest control tips. There's so much info out there about pest control, and it's easy to find, so there's not much use in me trying to put random bits of it in the answer. Example. Btw the first link in my answer has some prevention methods for the future. If you can't clear out the insects satisfactorily then unfortunately like the other answer said it's firewood now. Good luck!
    – Jason C
    Commented Sep 9, 2016 at 23:52

Looks like powder post beetles to me. If that is the case you have some nice firewood. Sorry.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.