Q: I have some oak lumber that has a faint odor to it. The odor is not very pleasant. Any ideas?

A: There are bacteria that get into wood through the roots of the tree. These bacteria produce fatty acids that then turn rancid (smelling like wet goats, if you know what they smell like.) Chances are that it is just a few pieces that have the smell, as the bacteria do not infect all the wood in the tree, but usually are restricted to small regions near the ground. If you notice the odor to be widespread, then it is likely that the logs were stored in a pond before sawing. Ponding results in extensive bacterial growth.

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.