Woodworm-Infested Frame

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Woodworm-Infested Frame

Postby Moglet » Thu Nov 29, 2007 6:03 pm

Hello all,

One of my customers came in today with a stretched original oil on canvas which she had originally bought framed from a gallery about a year ago. It transpired that the frame had been infested with woodworm. The customer removed the frame and brought it in to get the work reframed.

Needless to say, I was automatically concerned about the status of the stretcher bars, and inspection revealed two suspicious-looking holes in one of the bars.

What would be the best way to proceed with this job? I would assume that the canvas should be restretched on new bars, but would the canvas need any treatment as a result of the infestation prior to reframing?

Secondly, the artist has painted over the staples on the sides of the stretcher. Could the removal of the staples on the sides of the stretcher bars devalue the work?

Thirdly, my customer advised that there is no evidence of any woodworm in her own home that could have caused the infestation in the frame. Would she have any recourse back to the gallery who sold her the artwork to recoup costs for treatment/reframing?
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Re: Woodworm-Infested Frame

Postby Bill Henry » Thu Nov 29, 2007 7:57 pm

I am certainly not an authority on “worm wood”, but you might find it worthwhile to check this web site for a bit more information. There is a lot of other good stuff on line concerning powder post beetles, too.

If the stretcher bars are fairly modern, chances are they had been kiln dried and any insects that may have infested the wood before drying have been killed due to the heat. These beetles prefer moist wood rather than dry wood, so it is unlikely (although slightly possible) that the infestation occurred after the drying.

However, if you notice any “saw dust” surrounding or just inside the holes, you probably have an active infestation. In this case, run, don’t walk to the nearest large plastic bag, place the canvas and stretcher bars in it, seal it tightly, and get it out of your shop immediately!

If the infestation is active, it could leap to other frames or moulding in your shop. When this “saw dust” evidence occurs over here, it is time for a major panic attack.

My understanding is that the beetles bore into the wood, lay eggs, and continue burrowing until they finally exit through a second hole.

I’ve never tried this, but you might try to thread some picture wire through one of the holes and see if any critter (or their remains) pops out of the other end. If not, you’re probably okay.

Since you indicate that there are only two holes, then your stretcher bars shouldn’t have any structural problems, so if you can convince yourself that the infestation is ancient history, I would probably leave the canvas alone. If it is active, dismount the canvas outside the shop, seal the stretchers back into the bag, and burn it.

Obviously, in this case, you’d have to restretch it over new stretcher bars.

If the infestation is active, you could attempt to aerosolize an insecticide (I’m not sure what kind, though) into both holes, but it would be safer to start from scratch and avoid the risk of ruining the canvas.

Moglet wrote:the artist has painted over the staples on the sides of the stretcher. Could the removal of the staples on the sides of the stretcher bars devalue the work?


Whoever painted the edges already devalued the art. Removing the staples shouldn’t reduce the value any further, although with paint gooping up the staples they could be a little more difficult to remove.

Moglet wrote:Would she have any recourse back to the gallery who sold her the artwork to recoup costs for treatment/reframing?


I’m not a lawyer (I just play one on TV), but my guess is no. It would be difficult to prove that the worm holes didn’t start in her place, despite her insistence otherwise. If the infestation is not active, the gallery can always counter, “No harm; no foul!”
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Postby Bill Henry » Thu Nov 29, 2007 8:35 pm

On the other hand, if you have real Wormwood, you could always make some absinthe, but from what I understand, chugging down insecticide is probably safer and may taste better.
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Re: Woodworm-Infested Frame

Postby Moglet » Thu Nov 29, 2007 9:32 pm

Hi Bill! Looking very dapper in your festive headgear, I must say!! :D

One of the few really "girlie" attributes I have is a horror of things with more than four legs. You could have warned me that there were pictures on that site! :shock: And as for bug-prospecting with picture wire, it'll be a cold day in Hades ... Yuk!!!!! :evil:

Back to the matter at hand. Thankyou very much for your very quick response and helpful advice, Bill. The infestation is definitely active, as my customer only noticed the problem when holes started appearing in the front of the frame! I had already asked the customer to take the artwork home, and that I would get back to her with advice on how to proceed. I think I may have come close to the land speed record in the dash to get the plastic bag from the workshop (thanks Arqadia!). There's a fine flat roof outside the workshop where I will perform the "surgery" when she brings it back in to me.

With regard to the live infestation and your comments about the nastly little creatures preferring moist timber, the customer did actually remark that there was a damp atmosphere in the place of purchase, so maybe it might be worth her while to at least approach them about compensation and see what the response is. I don't know whether she has disposed of the frame, but I plan to give her back the stretcher bars for disposal as soon as the canvas has been detached from same. I'd far prefer to do the whole job fresh, rather than have my customer run any risk of any future problems from re-infestation.

My remaining concern is the canvas itself. Is there any chance of re-infestation from anything left on the canvas? (Desperately trying not to think of the "e" word...... megayuk!!!!)

In the meantime, I think I'll pass on quaffing the insecticide and green fairy both! :wink:
........Áine JGF SGF FTB
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Postby prospero » Thu Nov 29, 2007 11:43 pm

I have had occaisional invasions of ww, but mercifully not a lot. The trouble is, once you see the holes it means the adult form has left the wood and is looking for another egg-laying site.

A strange thing is that they always seem to prefer munching on the more expensive stuff. £8.00 a foot? yum-yum :twisted: I recently had a reframing job from another gallery where they had infested a very nice h/f frame. Must have cost a fortune.

btw. Lion do woodworm traps. :wink:

(seriously)
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Postby Bill Henry » Fri Nov 30, 2007 3:48 pm

If you got the offending piece out of your shop quickly enough, you should be fine.

Your customer, on the other hand, may have returned the horse to the flaming barn. Even if she keeps the frame/canvas in a bag, but the infestation did, indeed, begin at her place, the creepy crawlies may have already found other tasty treats on which to munch – like her woodwork or furniture.

She might be advised to at least contact a pest exterminator to see what they have to say … and hope that she doesn't want to shoot the messenger.
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Postby Spit » Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:11 pm

prospero wrote:btw. Lion do woodworm traps. :wink:

(seriously)


I find them a bit fiddly to use.

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Postby Moglet » Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:29 pm

Being "helpful" now, are we, Spit? :P

Status Update
Good news! The gallery where my customer purchased her artwork has agreed to take the piece back for the required remedial work. Indeed, they accepted her request to have the work sorted out without any argument. Hmmm..... :wink:

Thanks again for the further advice! I've recommended to my customer that she should contact a professional pest controller with regard to getting her home checked out. I've also suggested to her that the originating gallery provides some form of certification with the replacement frame confirming that the work is free from infestation, otherwise she could end up back at square one when the work is returned.

To be honest, this is a job that I'm not one bit sorry went elsewhere. Nasty, leggy critter things. Ick! ('m such a wuss! :roll: )
........Áine JGF SGF FTB
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Postby fineedge » Sun Dec 02, 2007 9:31 pm

Brilliant idea the trap! How many traps per box? does one bait it up with a chip of moulding or would a shaving do ?
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Postby Moglet » Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:23 pm

:lol: :lol:
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Postby prospero » Mon Dec 03, 2007 7:05 am

:? Now I may have halucinated the whole episode, but I know Lion used to do woodworm traps. I can't find any trace in current catalogue.
I tried a couple once. Didn't catch any. :? But the idea was sound enough. Some chemical stuff was supposed to attract the flying adults into a little box which was sticky inside. It didn't actually kill the larva that do the munching. The idea was to break the breeding cycle.
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Postby markw » Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:15 am

prospero wrote::? break the breeding cycle.


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Postby prospero » Mon Dec 03, 2007 8:30 am

:P Well I wouldn't have thought so, but it's begining to look that way. :wink:
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Postby w00dward » Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:50 am

Have you not seen them?


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Postby Spit » Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:56 am

:lol: But wouldn't a breeding cycle have been a tandem? :D
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Postby prospero » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:40 pm

I think we are starting to go off on a tandem. :wink:

The only sure way to get rid of woodworm is to wack them on the head with a baseball bat or other suitable blunt instrument. :twisted:
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Postby kaptain.kopter » Mon Dec 03, 2007 2:24 pm

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Postby Roboframer » Mon Dec 03, 2007 11:42 pm

prospero wrote::? Now I may have halucinated the whole episode, but I know Lion used to do woodworm traps. I can't find any trace in current catalogue.
I tried a couple once. Didn't catch any. :? But the idea was sound enough. Some chemical stuff was supposed to attract the flying adults into a little box which was sticky inside



I bought a handful of these from Lion when we moved in here. plenty of (thankfully loose and/or unwanted) fittings had wormholes.

They consisted of a circular soft rubber tube set in the centre of a very sticky board - you just peeled off the foil covers from the tubes and the realease paper from the board - insert tube to board and put them near the problem areas. The traps were sort of 'tunnels' - the bugs could not drop on to them.

We had seven males on just one of the traps and we used a plug-in sonic thingy for a few years after and have not had a problem (touch wood :) ) since.

Pheromone traps - poor little bugger thinks he's going to get his legs over - ends up getting them stuck in gloop - that's just so cruel - can you imagine what must go through the poor sod's mind "Please - PLEASE - just free ONE leg - just one leg.

I remember those seven males -

No 1 - stuck right at the perimeter of the trap.

No 2 - a bit further in - but one tiny leg left behind

No 3 - further still - two legs left behind

No 4 - not much further - 3 legs left behind.

No 5 - dead on top of No 4 - 4 legs left behind and turned gay before he died.

No 6 - you don't wanna know about No 6 - trust me! But he only had the one leg left.

No 7 - a trail of six legs behind him - his teeth sunk in to the rubber tube - a woodworn after my own heart - respec' man.
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Postby osgood » Tue Dec 04, 2007 1:35 am

Roboframer wrote: we used a plug-in sonic thingy for a few years after and have not had a problem (touch wood :) ) since.

I tried one of those sonic things once and I think it had about the amount of success as the guy who was standing on his 20th floor balcony throwing confetti over the railing.
Someone saw him doing this and asked "What are you doing that for?" the confetti hurler said "it's to keep the elephants away", the other guy said indignantly "there aren't any elephants up here" and the confetti hurler replied "effective, isn't it?"
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Postby prospero » Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:44 am

Wot I know about woodworm. :roll:

The main prob is that you can't tell if wood is infected until the little larva change into adults and emerge leaving the tell-tale holes and dust. They might have been munching away for years and totally destroyed the interior of the wood. If you see holes, then it is no use trying to inject pesticide down the hole as the offending critter has left. There may well be others still in the same wood but they are very small and you can't tell exactly where they are. Saturating the whole piece of wood is not always possible or practical.

The adults like to lay eggs on rough wood or in a fissure. The breeding time is in the spring: March-May. They don't like smooth finished surfaces so you can prevent infestation by spraying the ends of a length of moulding with aerosol woodworm treatment around this time.

Any infected wood should be isolated asap and preferbly burned. :evil:

btw. They love plywood but hate MDF. :wink:
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