A trend that is becoming increasingly popular when designing and decorating homes is upcycling furniture. It brings with it several environmental benefits such as reducing the production of raw materials and reducing waste sent to landfills. It also gives people the opportunity to create a unique style in their homes through attractive vintage furniture that can’t be seen anywhere else.

There is a financial benefit to upcycling. Rather than purchasing new expensive furniture, it is much cheaper to purchase older materials which can be transformed into beautiful furnished items, or so it may appear.

Vintage furniture should be properly examined for woodworm prior to purchasing or salvaging it. Woodworm will not just damage the vintage furniture it currently lives in but could possibly spread to other items of furniture and even the timber frame of your home.

Woodworm is a common name for the larvae of wood boring beetles and these beetles will eventually emerge from any furniture they have lived in as grubs and find a suitable place to mate and lay eggs. Therefore, it is important that anyone looking to upcycle furniture knows how to identify woodworm before bringing vintage furniture into their property.

 Holes left by woodworm on a very old wooden desk.
 Larva bark beetle (Scolytinae). Larva of Bark beetles legless isolated on white background.


Burrow Holes and Tunnels

Keep a close eye on small burrow holes in the wood. These small holes will resemble those in a dart board and are a clear indicator that the furniture has been infested with woodworm. However it is worth noting that while these holes are evidence of an infestation, this could be the result of a previous infestation that is no longer active. These holes are where beetles have burrowed out of the wood so it is unclear if any more remain in the furniture.

You may also notice raised “tunnels” within the furniture. This is an obvious sign of woodworm as it is evidence of the beetle’s journey within the timber.

Fine Powdery Dust

Fine, powdery dust also known as frass may be evident near the exit holes, on the back of or on the underside of the vintage furniture. Frass is the faeces left behind by larvae beetles and is a clear sign your furniture is infested with woodworm. This material will be similar to moist sawdust.

Crumbly Edges

If the woodworm is not treated, there will be an ever-increasing amount of burrow holes and this will cause the timber to appear crumbly as a result. Crumbly edges suggest that the infestation is a long-term problem and therefore must be treated fast to avoid further damage to the furniture.

Dead or Alive Beetles

If you find beetles emerging from the wood or dead beetles in close proximity of the furniture, this is a guarantee that the furniture has been infested with woodworm. The most common “woodworm” beetle is the Common Furniture Beetle which is small and brown in colour and die after mating so it is not uncommon to find dead beetles near the furniture or even in parts of the furniture such as drawers.


If you are looking to purchase vintage furniture but notice the furniture has evidence of a woodworm infestation, then it is recommended that you do not go ahead with the purchase due to the dangers of the woodworm spreading and seek advice prior.

By Jake Ryan of Wise Property Care