Why Does Wood Have Small Holes in It?

Wood is a durable material that can outstand stone and rocks. It is versatile and can be used for a multitude of things, from making tools all the way to building houses. This is why it is imperative one must understand what makes wood the way it is. At times you will find wood covered in very tiny holes that you can barely see. At times the holes are big enough that you can fit a finger through them. Is having small holes in wood normal? In this article, we will understand all the things you need to know about why does wood have small holes in it.

There are a few reasons why there are small holes in wood, one of which is naturally occurring pores. These pores can vary in size depending on the species of the wood. Another big reason for small holes in wood might be because of insects burying their eggs inside. When these insects hatch they dig out causing holes inside the pulp. Lastly, some bigger holes might occur in wood due to knots. These are called knot holes and can cause small to big holes in wood.

Most of the time when you find a hole in wood, it does not make it weaker. However, there are some factors that should be a cause for concern. For instance, there are some insects, for example, termites can weaken wood. Though they don’t burrow small holes, instead make whole tunnels and pathways. So they are easily identifiable, which allows you to avoid such wood altogether. Other than that, if you find a wood species has knot holes, large pores, or small holes because of insects that have dug out after getting hatched from their eggs, there is an easy solution for that.

3 Reasons For Why Your Wood Has Small Holes in It

1. Pores

A tree is a living thing, it feeds on water and minerals from the soil. The minerals and water are transported throughout the tree using tubes. When trees are cut, saw, and milled, these tubes are still visible in the shape of pores. These pores are very tiny holes that can be found throughout the whole wood. These are naturally occurring and do not make any wood weak. Some species of wood have bigger pores which are clearly visible to the naked eye, while some wood species have pores so tiny you can hardly see anything. 

2. Insects

There are many insects that burrow deep into wood to lay their eggs. This is a way for these insects to protect their offspring since wood is a durable material and will give the eggs shelter. Once these eggs hatch the new insects dig their way out of the wood. Even though some people might think it is a cause of concern, in most cases it isn’t. Depending on the type of insect, these just make a small hole as they dig out and don’t necessarily weaken the wood at all. However, if these wood worms or larvae have riddled the wood with holes then you might want to consider treating it immediately.

Now if it was something like a termite, that would be a cause of concern since they would form a whole colony inside the tree. As we said before, termites are easy to identify, so it is pretty easy to avoid getting wood that might have been attacked by wood eating insects like termites. Also if insects are a cause of concern for you, buying wood that acts like a natural repellent would help out. Teak is a great wood that is used in outdoor furniture for its water and insect repellent nature.

3. Knot Holes

Many times you will see wood riddled with knots. Some species of woods have more knots than others, it varies from species to species. These knots are natural and when you cut into a tree, saw it, and mill it, very rarely the wood in the knot falls out. You will end up with what most woodworkers refer to as a knot hole. These are naturally occurring and are quite bigger than small holes any insect might make. Knots are very easily identifiable, so the holes they leave can also be distinguished from those of an insect attack.

What Eats Holes in Wood?

Most insects like a few species of beetles, carpenter bees, and ants, make holes in wood. They don’t eat the wood but they dig out holes which they either use for shelter or to make a dwelling. In case of beetles, when their larvae, usually referred to as woodworms, eat their way out of the wood but once they hatch, they leave the wood. If a wood is riddled with these then there will be a lot of holes in the wood.

Carpenter ants form tunnels or galleries as woodworkers call them, in wood. They make it their primary place of living then. Same goes for carpenter bees as well, they make perfect round holes in wood and live inside these.

However, when it comes to termites, they literally eat the wood. The cellulose found in wood is their primary source of nourishment, which is why they eat wood from the inside. Usually when a termite attacks wood, you can see a pattern forming inside of it. They weaken wood from the inside which can be problematic. If you find signs of termites or if your wood is riddled with woodworms then you should immediately spray insecticides. While spraying please maintain safety protocols, wear an industrial grade mask, goggles, and gloves, also avoid skin contact.

How Do You Fill Holes in Furniture and Wood?

Filling any kind of holes in wood and furniture is easy. There are a few ways in which you can fill any kind of hole in wood. When it comes to pores, it is best to use a wood filler of the similar colour. A wood filler can also be used for holes made by insects that have hatched their way out of wood leaving behind holes. You can also use sawdust and glue to fill holes in your furniture and wood. Engineered boards are made similarly from chips or dust of wood mixed with glue and compressed under tight pressure.

You can use sawdust and glue to fill in bigger holes, cracks, and holes in furniture and wood. Just make sure that there isn’t any insect inside the hole first by either spraying an insecticide or some other repellent first. Because if you fill the hole with a filler or sawdust and glue and later the larvae hatches, it will make another hole again which will just waste all the work you have done so far.

Final Thoughts

It is hard to find wood without a flaw, so finding holes inside wood is pretty common. It is not a cause of big concern unless you can clearly see galleries or tunnels inside the wood that run deep. There are many causes of holes inside wood, if you can identify them you can deal with them accordingly. Using wood fillers, putties, and sawdust and glue are great ways to deal with such holes. Having a good eye for such things can help you choose wood better. So checking out images of how insect holes, pores, and knot holes are different can be of huge help.

Martin Swizz

Hi! This is Martin, I like to research, experiment, and learn new things related to wood carving and other kinds of woodworking.

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