All About Wormy Chestnut
The American Chestnut Tree
What was once known as the queen of Eastern America—the American Chestnut tree—is now nearly extinct?
The American Chestnut dates back to 1800 and was an economic staple of the original homesteaders in the Appalachian Mountains. The wood was lightweight, weather-resistant, and very easy to chop and hand mill. Homesteaders used the tress for not only their homes but for fencing, rails, and the nut they produced. Trees were known to grow up to 26 feet in diameter, and if your farm had many American Chestnut trees, you were considered to be a very wealthy farmer.
It is believed that in 1904, a forester from the Bronx Zoo brought in Asian chestnut trees to decorate his homestead. It was in these tress that a blight called Endothia parasitica was born. The fungus, which was unintentionally brought into America, quickly spread to the native chestnuts. In less than 10 years, the American Chestnut was all but extinct. The root bases below the disease were still alive, but the saplings produced did not live long. Researchers have spent the past 100 years trying to revive the species, to no avail. It is believed that only five chestnut trees have ever survived this blight.
The Worm Holes in Reclaimed Chestnut
The worm holes you see when you look at reclaimed chestnut were created by a beetle that bored into the deadwood, finding it a great source of nutrition. These beetles quickly mass produced and soon infected not only the American Chestnut, but much of the oak, pine, and black walnut tress in the Appalachians. It was then that wormy chestnut was born. The trees had such great strength that they remained standing, and the wood was still harvested to build many homes and barns here in the mountains.
Worm Holes Created by Beetles After the Blight
American Chestnut Now Extinct
Today there is a law against cutting down the chestnut trees, but it may be too late. Although researchers are still working to revive this amazing tree, they now believe it is not likely to happen.
Wormy Chestnut 2
Saving the American Wormy Chestnut
We are dedicated to saving as much of this wormy chestnut wood as we can find. We are using it to build generational pieces of rustic furniture. This will allow the American Chestnut to live on for generations to come.
Wormy Chestnut Furniture
De-Nailing Wormy Chestnut Boards
Patrick Removing Nails From Reclaimed Chestnut
We spend many hours carefully removing old nails, and bullets from centuries old wood. We take pride in saving as much of the rich history in the boards that we can, and passing that history onto our customers.
These huge beams were the main supports of an 1820 barn in Eastern Tennessee. The wood was then used to build a farm table that we call "Grace."
Rustic Farm Table "Grace"
Saving the American Chestnut
Pat and I are dedicated to saving not only the history of the wood, but the wood itself. The American Chestnut tree may never be seen again in all it's mass or beauty, but it can live on through generational rustic furniture. It is so sad to see all these wonderful old homes, and barns being torn down daily. There is little regard for the history these centuries old homes, and barns have. Please remember the American Chestnut and buy a generational piece of history for your home today. Sadly there is so much mass production that custom furniture is going by the wayside. That is why at PK Woodworks we design and build affordable rustic furniture. It should not be only the rich that can afford to own such a unique piece of American history.
Wormy Chestnut Bench
Why American "Wormy" Chestnut?
Remember that "wormy" chestnut is a defective grade of wood that has insect/beetle damage, having been sawn from long-dead blight-killed trees. This "wormy" wood has since become fashionable for its rustic character. Consider building your next custom piece of rustic furniture from this amazing wood. It will not be around for many more years and owning a true generational farm table or bench would be a great way to save the great history of the American chestnut.