Nutrients are attractive to insects and when wood is aging, protein and carbohydrates are broken down, leaving 30-50 year old buildings immune to infestation. It is important therefore to allow wood to season slowly and naturally before working with it.
It is best to use wood which has been harvested at the right time. Treat all wooden components before installing them with a boric salt preparation. Boric salt is a naturally occurring substance and is classed as harmless in the ecological building industry.
It doesn't like conifers at all and only the light colored types of leafy trees (like maple) or the periphery of some trunks are edible. In the northern hemisphere, this tropical migrant can't fly from one home to the next; therefore, new infestation is hardly possible.
The Common Powderpost Beetle is not native to Europe; most likely it was introduced with imported wood from the tropics. Even though it is able to infest dry wood in our cold climate, it doesn't feel at ease here. It doesn't enjoy the European species of trees.
At first this appears as a danger to anything made with wood. But only at first glance! Let us have a closer look at why constructive building methods have defied this trio for hundreds of years:
Common Powderpost Beetle
Natural wood protection against insects
Here the situation is similar, a dry and protected build doesn't offer any chances of survival to most insects. There are only three specialists for dry wood:
Only those three species are able to live in dry conditions.
I am not demonizing all norms and regulations here; however, it simply is erroneous and destructive to reduce our relationship with trees to numbers and regulations. Sorting out and grading the quality of building wood by counting the branches of the trees doesn't result in buildings which last for centuries.
In a carpentry workshop in Salzburg I found a carpenter family where four generations worked together. Of course they only laid floorboards when the moon was waning: "My great grandfather has done this successfully and obviously we too make sure we use the moon phases to our advantage." Those were the words the young carpenter used to confirm the longstanding tradition in his wood workshop.
The ideal time to set fence posts is when the moon is waning and in an earth sign like Virgo, Capricorn or Taurus.
Professional carpenters can make good use of this gravitational pull the moon has on earth. A wood floor laid when the moon is waning doesn't shrink creating gaps and also makes less sound when walked on.
You yourself can try out these energies in other contexts as well. Wooden fence posts never should be erected when the moon is waxing. After the next frost they will loosen and decompose faster. Fence posts set when the moon is waning or new seem to sit tighter in the ground and also last longer.
The moon's gravity directly influences the absorption and the release of moisture in any being or object which contains water. While human, animal and plant cells absorb when the moon is waxing, the earth absorbs water and nutrients when the moon is waning and the earth releases moisture and nutrients when the moon is waxing. It is a perfect symbiotic process.
When the moon was waning however, it seemed additional and unseen powers were released. The water gouges deeper ditches and trenches into the roads, landslides occurred more often and afterwards, much more maintenance and repair works were necessary.
When I was a forester in my district at the 'Karwendelgebirge', I was looking after a wide work of graveled roads. Dirt roads always experience the biggest damage when we have heavy thunderstorms in midsummer.
I noticed then, that thunderstorms and heavy rains created less damage when the moon was waxing. Usually there was just some gravel debris to be removed.
"I just had a look at them", explained the father. "The three which you put in at the right time, are still filling up nicely with water. The other two however, don't have a drop of water in them. The water runs past behind and underneath the trough."
When the carpenter told me this story, it was clear to me why.
It was after the snowmelt in spring when the farmer finally made his way up there. When he came back and asked knowingly why two of the troughs have been dug in later than he specified, his son asked surprised: "How do you know, you weren't up there all autumn last year?"
The father however insisted: "those troughs need to go into the ground today and that's that." His son then went up to the alp and after he finished digging in the third trough, he left and went dancing. He installed the remaining two troughs a couple of days later and was confident his father wouldn't notice.
Those troughs are dug into the ground and positioned right at a spring or little creek so that the water flows over the rim filling the trough without the trough needing its own intake. The son wanted to postpone this job because right on that day was a dance in the neighbouring village.
Flowing Water and the Sign of the Moon
Another story by the above mentioned Tyrolean carpenter appropriately shows the influence the moon has on nature.
"One autumn, this farmer in the Tyrolean lowlands asked his son to go up in the mountains and install five wooden water troughs for the cattle which are staying up there in the summer months.
By using several examples, I'll show how practical it is to consider our yearly seasons and the moon phases when harvesting wood. In early times, everybody who was involved with the forest and wood knew this. However, today there is an imminent danger that this very valuable knowledge and skill will be lost. Let us remember and record it so we can pass it on to future generations.
The moon moves ocean tides, it influences the fertility cycle of women and animals and the growth of plants. Sometimes, it also prevents us from getting a good night's sleep. I now want to illuminate the fascinating correlation between the moon and wood.
A wooden frame with a saw blade tightened to it was run by three men. One man was standing on top of the tree trunk and two men were standing below the trestles. This gang of three sawed one plank after the other, in a steady and rhythmic way, for weeks and months until all trees felled were transformed into wooden boards and beams.
After settling in, we built trestles from round wood. On those trestles, we processed the trees which had been cut down and prepared the previous winter. The trestles were placed at the side of the hill in a way that allowed us to lift the heavy tree trunks without hand tools onto the trestle and lock the trunk into place. Then we used a colored string to mark lines on the tree trunk.
Many of our building sites didn't have any access by roads, like the farmsteads and small alpine cabins high up in the mountains. We needed to be inventive and help ourselves with what was available. Yes, yes, these were long days... But then, no one was fussed about the tempo of our work. There was no rush. We steadily worked along with our hand tools.
The even better days are when the moon is waning and just before New Moon in Capricorn which falls around Christmas and mid-January every year. This wood has the least sap and moisture content; it will dry more evenly, won't warp and won't attract fungi and wood bugs. After the trees were felled, it took several months before they were further processed.
"The trees were always felled in winter! You see, if you log a tree in spring, when the sap is pumping, the log contains heaps of moisture and nutrients. The wood won't be good for building because it warps, attracts fungi and termites. The best time to log trees is in winter when the tree is hibernating.
Holz100 Canada Inc.