DJ Delorie replies: When using epoxy to fill holes and gaps in wood, the best way is to fill the holes before turning or planing. As you fill each hole, cover the hole with tape to contain the epoxy. Plastic packing tape is probably best, as it’s wide, lightweight, and clear. To dye the epoxy, you can mix in any variety of dry pigment dyes (lamp black, powdered food dye, wood dust, ground pencil leads, etc).
Note that epoxy fumes are hazardous. Please take appropriate precautions.
Bruce Hamilton replies: There are many insects that make holes in wood, the termite and carpenter ant being the most notorious. The ones you are referring to are most likely a species of what is commonly known as the powder post beetle. The “dust” they leave behind is called fras and, as far as I know, it’s non-toxic. It is not the beetle that makes the holes but the larva. The larva feed on the wood, develop into a beetle, the beetle flies away to mate, the female lays her eggs in the wood and the cycle starts all over again.
Whether or not you have an active infestation takes a little detective work. You may see fras dust on the floor under the object. Sometime you can actually hear the lava eating! The larva have to have a certain level of moisture to survive. Fortunately for us, our homes are generally too dry in the winter and the larva dehydrate and die. This is the best and least toxic way to get rid of them.
Controlling the epoxy can be done in several ways. You’re going to have to experiment. I’d start by taping over the filled holes and cracks after I filled them. If you chill the epoxy it may stiffen sufficiently to prevent it from running. I think you can use just about any dye stain or pigment to color epoxy but I would do a test sample to verify that it will dry properly. You could also call the manufacturer for info as well.
Roy Noyes replies: This is a difficult question to answer fully. The holes that you refer to are undoubtedly Powder Post Beetle holes. The holes are due to the larvae which feed on the sugars in sap wood; the adults do very little damage. I would expect that even if you sealed up all the holes with epoxy, that there will be new holes appearing as the eggs inside the wood hatch and the adult beetles emerge. As far as I know, the dust is not poisonous, however the emerging beetles may attack other wood in your home.
I do not recommend using wood infested with powder post beetles and suggest that the best thing to do is burn it.
Control & Recommendations:
The following points should aid in discouraging powder post beetle infestations:
Courtesy of the Do-It-Yourself web site.