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My friend Carmen asked me to visit and see why white dust keeps appearing under her Sheraton side table. They sweep it up and there is more the next day. The table was in a warehouse before it was given to her. I looked at the table with a magnifying glass. There were tiny holes and old signs of damage. The table could have been refinished or cleaned with furniture polish. A look at the “dust” showed tiny transparent worms wiggling on the floor. Wood-boring insects had hatched after time inside a hole in the wood. Not a common problem in the North.

What to do if you have the same problem as Carmen? The damage (holes) is permanent, make sure no more insects hatch. Take the table outside. Sometimes it’s enough to leave it in bright sunlight for a few days. If there are still signs of droppings, put the table in a large box in the garage. Buy borax powder. Mix a solution and spray the table then leave it in the closed box for a few days. There is also a way to use orange oil. Carmen used the borax method, put the table on a dark cloth and made sure there were no signs of activity before putting it back in the house.

Don’t store poisons and be sure no one — not even the dog — will be near the poisonous sprays, fumes, and applications for several days. Always wear gloves and wash your hands, face and exposed skin and clothes as soon ASAP. If you are not a DIY person, hire an exterminator or an antiques restorer.

We know about a lot of strange problems with care of antiques: Worms in the Japanese woodblock prints; baby birds in the attic; and even cockroaches in a folk art painting. Solutions to come.

Send us your unusual story to share!


mahogany sheraton side table with glass top

Similar Sheraton side table (DuMouchelle)

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