Pecan is a member of teh Hickory family if I remember correctly. It
takes a nice finish and , I think, you can buff it before hand to give
it a beautiful luster or hand-rubbed finsihas you see on many OLD
handrails. Doesn't blotch,
I used an oil varnish (unfortunately, it contained poly due
to the church's wishes) on a pecan plywood bookshelf and it
finished very nicely. It's very hard and not prone to
blotching, but anything will blotch with a stain involved.
I hope you're not staining it, too. Natural Watco, tung oil,
or Waterlox would be just great. Watco is perfect out of the
can but I tend to degloss the shinier oil mixes/varnishes.
Strip your hammer handle and try your choice of finish on it.
Hickory and pecan are kissin' cousins.
"i" before "e", except after "c", what a weird society.
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It's been a really long time since I've worked with pecan, but it is
pretty hard-- It's a member of the Walnut family-- as are butternut
and hickory. Walnut & butternut are the softer woods & hickory and
pecan are the harder woods. The grain is really nice. The last pecan
I saw had a lot of knots. Use a sharp blade. The color is more like
hickory. I believe it is an open grained wood like black walnut, but
could be wrong. I just did a quick search on Google using
as a search string & came up with 15000 hits
A lot of wood stores that sell you pecan are really selling hickory and
vice-versa. Almost impossible to tell them apart with just the naked
(or dressed) eye
Second the sharp-blade comment. It does finish beautifully. Hope to
one day redo kitchen cabinets in the stuff.
Realistically, you don't. Pecan is in the genus "Carya". So are all
the hickories. There are many species of "hickory", pecan being one.
BTW, walnut and butternut are in the genus "Juglans"...there is no close
relationship between them and the hickories.
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Greetings and salutations...
On 11 Aug 2005 13:41:41 -0700, "Phil at small (vs at large)"
a really nice workbench out of some 8/4 Pecan from a local
lumber yard (Jeffery's Woodworks...a GREAT source of wonderful
wood of all sorts...not cheap but great stuff). It was VERY
hard, and, very dusty to run through the planer, but, produced
a spectacular workbench top.
As it worked out, we were able to book-match slices
across the bench, so, it looked rather like a slice from a
trunk that was about 30" thick. One FINE looking workbench
if I say so myself.
My experience is with hickory, but as someone else said, they are pretty
much the same. It is very very different than walnut.
It is very hard and brittle; it tears out badly when routing and is tough to
For the right application it is a pretty wood; but I wouldn't use it
anywhere that required a lot of work. Making a frame out of it would be a
real exercise; probably a poor choice even when free.
Thanks for the replies. Your responses were fairly consistent. I saw a
country club house done with the pecan (paneling, solid wood doors, window
casements) and it was nice looking. I'll give it a try on something that
would use the wood as a facing and see how it does.
(from: http://www.exotichardwoods-northamerica.com/pecanhickory.htm )
Category Green Dry Units
Weight 47 lbs/cu.ft.
Density (air-dry) lbs/cu.ft.
Specific Gravity 0.60 0.66
Hardness 1820 lbs
Stiffness 1370 1730 1000 psi
Bending Strength 9800 13700 psi
Shearing Strength 2080 psi
Max. Crushing Strength 3990 7850 psi
Work to Maximum Load 15 14 in-lbs/in3
Radial Shrinkage (G->OD) %
Tangential Shrink. (G->OD) %
Volumetric Shrink (G->OD) %
Pecan is rather widespread, abundant, and secure globally, although it
may be rare in some areas at the periphery of its range (Source - The
Nature Conservancy - Rank of relative endangerment based primarily on
the number of occurrences of the species globally).
This species is reported to be distributed in Alabama, Arkansas,
Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland,
Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Great Smoky Mountain National
Park, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee,
Texas, and Virginia. It is usually found in mixed hardwood forests, and
prefers to grow in moist, well-drained soils of river flood plains and
It is not known at present whether timber from this species is
obtainable from sustainably managed or other environmentally responsible
Pecan is reported to be available at a moderate price on the U.S. market
in the form of lumber, veneers and plywood.
The state tree of Texas, Pecan is reported to occur in the wild and is
also cultivated. The largest member of the Hickories, it usually grows
to heights of about 160 to 170 feet (49 to 52 m), with trunk diameters
of about 72 to 84 inches (180 to 213 cm). Pecan trees are reported to
have very long lives, with some trees reaching the age of 350 years.
The sapwood is white to pale brown in color.
The heartwood is rich reddish brown in color, and may contain streaks of
slightly darker hue.
Grain is reported to be typically straight, but may occasionally be
irregular or wavy.
The wood has a coarse texture.
There is no characteristic odor or taste.
Ease of Drying
The material is reported to dry fairly easily and rapidly, although it
requires care because of fairly high shrinkage.
Slow drying with poor air circulation may cause chemical sapwood stains.
End checks and hairline splits may also occur.
T8 - D3 (4/4); T6 - D1 (8/4) US
Movement in Service
The timber is reported to have high dimensional stability, and holds its
place well in use.
Pecan is reported to be vulnerable to the hickory bark beetle, and also
succumb easily to frost damage. It is also susceptible to attack by
fungi and insects.
Resistance to Impregnation
The wood is moderately resistant to preservative treatment.
Magnesium carbonate deposits are reported to be often present and 'Bird
pecks' leave residue that crystallizes.
Blunting effect on cutting edges is reported to vary from moderate to
The wood is reported to be rather difficult to saw.
Pecan is reported to require careful machining, but it planes well,
although a reduced cutting angle of 20 degrees is recommended in working
stock with irregular grain.
The wood is characteristically very easy to turn.
A reduced cutting angle of 20 degrees is required in moulding wood
containing irregular grain.
Boring properties are reported to be very good.
The wood has exceptional mortising properties.
Gluing properties are reported to be satisfactory.
The material is reported to respond rather poorly to nailing.
The wood is fairly easy to screw.
The timber is reported to require careful sanding to achieve the
The wood responds to polishing to yield a smooth finish.
The material takes stains well.
Steam bending properties are reported to be generally good.
Pecans can be differentiated from true Hickories by weight, and by the
narrow bands of parenchyma, which appear between the rays and between
the large earlywood pores. (In hickories the band occurs after the first
row of earlywood pores). Strength properties of C. illinoensis are
reported to be similar to those of other hickories. Bending strength in
the air-dry condition (about 12 percent moisture content) is high, and
maximum crushing strength, or compression strength parallel to grain, is
also high. It is hard - harder than Teak, and does not marr or dent
easily. The wood is very heavy.
That sorta makes sense. Seems to me that once upon a time I was told
that hickory and pecan were the male and female of the same species. I
don't know that ot's true, but it *would* explain why you don't see
preggers pecans. Unless I'm wrong about what burls are...
Dave in Fairfax
reply-to doesn't work
use: daveldr at att dot net
My maternal grandfather, who passed away in the late 50's, left behind a lot
of "native" pecan furniture cut from his farm in S. Louisiana.
Wonderful wood for furniture, IME (though you need sharp tools/blades) -
especially if you like a natural, unstained finish (pecan takes an oil/poly
finish that looks terrific)... personally I'd take all I had room for, then
There must be a regional thing about pecan and hickory being the pretty much
the same. Depending upon the variety, there is a notable difference between
pecan and hickory in the tone of the final product when finished, at least
in the species we get down here in S.E. Texas.
... and despite the "native" variety still being relatively easy to find, it
is not cheap at the wood suppliers hereabouts.
My dream dining room table, as yet unrealized, is made from pecan, finished
with a hand rubbed oil/poly ... one of these days.
It is a fairly common hardwood in SE Kansas/NE Oklahoma area. Very pretty
grain and works about like walnut. When finshed close to natural color it
is similar to Hickory but has a look of its own.
Others have responded with specifics, but I'll note this: pecan is a
short-trunked, "limby" tree, branching prolifically. The bulk of the
lumber is likely to be from limbs, thus only available in
short-to-medium lengths. The growth rings will be assymetric, as is
common in all limbs.
That aside, it's lovely wood. But to be honest, I think it's best used
to fuel the smoker when a brisket or butt is meeting its fate. :-)
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