Picture This XXVIII

I recently came across this provincial tripod table dating from the end of the eighteenth-century; made from mahogany and what, from its colour, appears to be alder or Scots mahogany.

The circular dished and moulded table top is made from an attractive cut of mahogany (fig. 1).

wormy_tripod_table_c1790_01aFig. 1. Mahogany table top.

The table base, however, is made from a cheap mahogany substitute which is riddled with furniture beetle flight holes (figs. 2, 3 & 4).

wormy_tripod_table_c1790_01bFig. 2. Column perforated with woodworm holes.

wormy_tripod_table_c1790_01cFig. 3. Widespread worm damage.

wormy_tripod_table_c1790_01dFig. 4. Crumbling wood.

The table base is essentially a fragile honeycomb structure encased in a delicate skin comprising the unpalatable outer layers of wood fibres, polish and grime. Indeed, worm infestation has caused the failure of one of the legs (figs. 5 & 6).

wormy_tripod_table_c1790_01eFig. 5. Somewhat compromised.

wormy_tripod_table_c1790_01fFig. 6. Friable wood inside leg.

The table top’s bearer is made of oak and, due to its proximity to the worm infested column, has itself been attacked by woodworm (fig. 7).

wormy_tripod_table_c1790_01gFig. 7. Wormy oak bearer.

Jack Plane

About Jack Plane

Formerly from the UK, Jack is a retired antiques dealer and self-taught woodworker, now living in Australia.
This entry was posted in Antiques, Picture This and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Picture This XXVIII

  1. confur says:

    Is it yours ? Is the foot missing ? Consolidation can work……..


    • Jack Plane says:

      No, the table is not mine.

      I agree though; the table could be consolidated by conventional means. It’s a pity the seller didn’t do something about it before advertising it for sale!



  2. Jim Pallas says:

    I’m not very knowledgable on this subject but would like to know.
    Did these infestations take place in the homes of the era or is it due to improper storage at some time. I have seen insect damage when wooden objects were stored in barns and such but I don’t know about living conditions in a home of the time. This inquisitive mind needs educating. I’ll but doing some study myself also.


    • Jack Plane says:

      Furniture beetle will attack the dry wood (of some species and just the sap wood of other species) if conditions are favourable. Their larvae (woodworm) are as happy munching their way through furniture in a house as they are eating firewood or boards in a shed.



  3. John Wolf says:

    What do you mean by “consolidation”?


    • Jack Plane says:

      Consolidation can be achieved with the use of proprietary resins that are injected into the wood. It’s a laborious process, but can produce excellent results.

      In the past, I have also had some success using size.



  4. Cleremont says:

    Jack, I recently consolidated a worm damaged and water rotted Elm seat of a ‘Gothic Windsor settee using animal glue size. I added a fungicide to the size and crated a vacuum attachment to pull the hot size through the seat. I used a dental pick open every exit hole and managed to get through 3 pints before I was satisfied that I had covered every inch of the seat. I would have preferred to disassemble the piece and consolidate the seat with a water based epoxy resin under vacuum but my client would not agree to the cost. I was afraid of compromising the leg/seat joints with epoxy so I stuck with the animal glue. I often use this method to consolidate and I will use my shop vacuum and bin liner/trash bag to help. I now have a worm damaged bun foot that is from a breaker and I intend to use the size/shop vac /bin liner method to consolidate it. I will then cut through it to see how effective this low tech method is. I will let you know .
    Thank you for your most informative blog.



    • Jack Plane says:

      Cleremont, that’s a sensible approach (considering the leg joints).

      When using size, I find using a retarder in the size works best when treating large objects. Hot size alone, can cool and set before it fully penetrates all the worm tracts.

      Have you ever weighed a worm damaged piece pre- and post treatment?



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