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Essex Barn Workshop

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There was a recent barn find sell off close to me, a furniture maker died 40+ years ago and his huge stock of wood were put into a barn, which now needs demolishing. I got some great pieces, including a 3M long, 1 1/2" thick and 45cm wide double-live edged slab of oak.
I could see worm holes, but it had good weight so at a very low cost I took the risk and bought it. I think I gave around £30 for it, so had it been good, it would have been the bargain of the week!
It didn't enter my workshop until after I had heavily and repeatedly treated it with a wood worm killer, despite thinking that these holes were probably long extinct.

Yesterday I started sanding it, and as soon as I touched the sides this happened:

1634290238163.png


Rotten.

To be sure I cut it in half at the 1.5M point to see the centre.

1634290349810.png


Rotten through to the core. What a pity, it would've made a great table.

To be clear, I was aware this was possible when I bought it, and am disappointed rather that heart broken! The seller let me have it cheap because he recognised the risk I was taking, and even with the loss of this piece I am still delighted with the overall cost of everything I bought from him, including 120 oak batons (coffee table leg size) and another 10 - 15 smaller (and solid!) slabs.

Hindsight is a pretty exact science, but with the weight it was i defy anyone to, hand on heart, declare that at that price they wouldn't have gambled and bought it.

The polystyrene by the way is on the bench I use my track saw on, a cheap way of not damaging the work surface.
 

Doug71

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Wow, the second photo looks like chipboard!

I had something kind of similar a couple of weeks ago. A customer asked me to go and check out some of their architrave, their wife had caught the corner of it with her foot and it had just broken off revealing some woodworm holes. When I investigated it was just years of paint that was holding the architrave together, it looked fine but just crumpled in your hand, it was riddled with worm holes top to bottom. The architrave was typical old stuff made up of two pieces and the worm had only attacked the backing piece, there were none in the front piece or the door casing. It's amazing how much damage they can do which can be unseen.
 

Orraloon

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That's a pity but I think I would have taken the punt on the slab also. I got a marples jack plane on UK ebay that had a couple of holes that the seller pointed out so I took the chance. Turned out ok in my case. I gave it 10 days in the freezer to be sure they were dead.
We dont have them here in Australia but as life is never perfect we have these beasties instead.
2,380 Termite Damage Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock
Regards
John
 

Doug B

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It’s marvellous how much damage worm can do that isn’t immediately visible, I plastered a room a while back there were obvious signs of worm in some of the floor boards but the devastation they’d wreaked wasn’t apparent until I lifted a few boards.


735A8311-D283-479C-90D2-0B7DD31A4AF7.jpeg
 

clogs

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Vamos, Crete, GREECE.......
here's one for ya....Capricorn beetle.....
it'll eat thru a 200 year old Oak beams like they are cheese, these beams u normally only cut with carbide...these beams are so hard they wreck a chains saw chains.....

they are so disgusting even my chickens wouldn't eat em...
we also had Termites around, luckily not in my house.....
Unknown-6.jpeg
 

paulrbarnard

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I bought a house a while back and had a full survey done before the purchase. After I moved in I noticed the floor in one of the bedrooms was a bit flexible so pulled up a couple of boards to take a look. Net result was completely replacing all the timbers in the upstairs ceiling and the entire first floor. I essentially had to gut the interior and rebuild the whole lot. All while still trying to live in the place. Fortunately the roof timbers had not been touched and had been there for a couple hundred years. They all got treated though. That was a heck of a task that I was not expecting…
 

Yojevol

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Are you sure it's oak? I've used reclaimed oak from Victorian church pews where the manufacturers weren't too fussy about including sapwood. The sapwood was heavily eaten away but the heartwood was perfectly usable.
There is an indication on the right of the first pic that there is a core area which is fairly intact. Why have the little beasties avoided it?
A couple of other questions come to mind.
Were there other bits of oak? If so were they clean?
What is the angle of the wany edges? This will give an indication of the size of the tree and position of this slab.
I suspect the owner had this in store for many years and couldn't find a use for it. That could well be the case if it's something other than oak.
A few things to ponder on.
Brian
 

Cabinetman

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Are you sure it's oak? I've used reclaimed oak from Victorian church pews where the manufacturers weren't too fussy about including sapwood. The sapwood was heavily eaten away but the heartwood was perfectly usable.
There is an indication on the right of the first pic that there is a core area which is fairly intact. Why have the little beasties avoided it?
A couple of other questions come to mind.
Were there other bits of oak? If so were they clean?
What is the angle of the wany edges? This will give an indication of the size of the tree and position of this slab.
I suspect the owner had this in store for many years and couldn't find a use for it. That could well be the case if it's something other than oak.
A few things to ponder on.
Brian
I must say I was surprised, they don’t often infest hardwood in oak like that, are you suggesting that the majority of that piece is sapwood as it comes from close to the outside of the tree?
 

Yojevol

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I must say I was surprised, they don’t often infest hardwood in oak like that, are you suggesting that the majority of that piece is sapwood as it comes from close to the outside of the tree?
That was what was going through my mind but it would be an awful lot of sapwood, hence, is it not oak?
Brian
 

Essex Barn Workshop

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I'll take some pictures of the pieces left when I'm back in the workshop. I believed it to be oak certainly. Not sure what you are seeing in the first picture, it is all pretty well eaten.
Other pieces all had some localised rot, but have left perfectly usable great slabs.
 

Sgian Dubh

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Given enough time repeated common furniture beetle infestations or attacks will even turn all parts of oak, sapwood and heartwood into a crumbly mass. I've seen this at least a couple of times, and probably more, in such places as unheated and leaky sheds and agricultural buildings. In the cases I'm aware of the repeated infestations almost certainly occurred over decades rather than just a few years. Slainte.
 

Essex Barn Workshop

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Given enough time repeated common furniture beetle infestations or attacks will even turn all parts of oak, sapwood and heartwood into a crumbly mass. I've seen this at least a couple of times, and probably more, in such places as unheated and leaky sheds and agricultural buildings. In the cases I'm aware of the repeated infestations almost certainly occurred over decades rather than just a few years. Slainte.
Yes, and this was in an open fronted barn for at least 40 years!
 

Essex Barn Workshop

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Two pictures. Remember this is now halved in length, you can probably just make out the other half popping out around the edge:
.
E5772DFC-E8CF-4268-AA35-2AAD4F6E0A96.jpeg


And the bark:

B448E02B-B541-49E2-8E0D-DC3EED6789F4.jpeg
 

Cabinetman

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I may be wrong as it’s difficult to tell from a photograph, but I must say it looks as if nearly all of that plank is sapwood apart from the darker elliptical shaped pieces in the centre where there is hardly any woodworm but as I say it’s difficult to tell from the photo.
I suspect that the heartwood doesn’t even stretch to the other side of the board or is very small if it does and that’s why some of the woodworm have been able to come out through that hardwood. Ian
 

Yojevol

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I'm even more doubtful now that it's oak.
The bark has a horizontal character to it - possibly cherry. The wany edge is almost square to the face indicating that we are looking at a cross section through the middle of the tree, as such it is quarter sawn. If it was oak there would be medullary rays present and sapwood would be fairly obvious. This slab's appearance has very little character. It looks to me to be quite fast growing. I know from my own experience that cherry will be eaten throughout.
I'm for cherry
Brian
 
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