How to Tell if Worm Holes are Real
Over time, wooden furniture is susceptible to scratches, burns, or
other damage. The wood beetle poses a particular threat to wood furniture,
because it lays its eggs in crevices of the wood. The eggs hatch, and the
larvae (woodworms) eat through the wood, before developing into beetles
and flying away. The small tunnels they create are called worm holes.
While worm holes can be treated and filled, they're often viewed as
evidence of the long life of a piece of antique furniture. One interesting
note: Some modern furniture manufacturers actually synthesized worm holes
to make their pieces look older.
There were cases in the 1940s, 1950s, and even 1960s where
cabinet makers and dealers tried to make 19th-century furniture
appear to be 18th-century. They added worm holes, added wear, and
used chemicals to enhance the oxidation of secondary woods — all
to simulate an age of another hundred years. There were several
different ways of adding holes, including with ice picks.
The first thing that comes to mind
with worm holes, is to question whether they're still active and
whether there is a real threat to the piece of furniture in
question. There is probably less concern about whether they are fake.
Fake worm holes are not very prevalent. You just don't see them
much anymore. Most auctioneers haven't seen fake worm holes in the past 15-20
The best way to test to see if a worm hole is real is with a
straight pin — if it goes straight in, then the hole is not a
real worm hole. Worms are erratic, they go in all directions —
left and right etc. — and not straight.