Soft patch on oak bookcase

I've just bought an old open bookcase made of oak at auction and found that the wood is quite soft along a short length of the back edge of one of the sides. The area seems dry and both the stain and polish on and around this patch are good. Does anyone have any idea what has caused this softness? Could it be rot? I'm loathe to cut out this area as it still looks fine but would welcome some advice. Argent.
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Argent wrote:

Woodworm?
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Argent wrote:

Could be any of the things others have mentioned.
I'd actually get a bottle of thin cyanoacrylate from your local model shop - the really thin stuff - and apply to the back of the wood. It sokas up like fury into porous soft wood, and you end up wih a fairly decent composite matrix that will hold the wood solid against normal wear and tear, and also seal it agianst wood worm if it has any.
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