Pecan wood

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Forum topic by Dan Hux posted 10-21-2009 06:55 PM 12382 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Dan Hux

577 posts in 3403 days

10-21-2009 06:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

I don’t have a lot of experiense in woodworking and I’ve only played around with a few different woods. Mostly red oak (what you buy at Lowes) some Poplar, lots of Southern Yellow Pine, some walnut and maple. A buddy I work with has some Pecan he’s had for a bunch of years rough cut, I haven’t seen the wood, he brought me a piece, looks kinda like Oak, feels like Oak. Is Pecan any good to work with as far as finishing and durability? Thought I’d get a few opinions from some folks that have more experience than I do. Thanks in advance.


-- Dan Hux,,,,Raleigh, NC

13 replies so far

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Daren Nelson

767 posts in 3934 days

#1 posted 10-21-2009 07:14 PM

Pecan is great wood… hard though. As far as finishing I don’t believe in a stain of any kind, especially on something as pretty as pecan. You won’t have any durability problems with the wood. You said you are familiar with red oak, it’s Janka hardness is about 1290…Pecan is 1820.

View a1Jim's profile


117128 posts in 3606 days

#2 posted 10-21-2009 07:18 PM

It’s a new wood to me.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View reggiek's profile


2240 posts in 3299 days

#3 posted 10-21-2009 07:19 PM

I have turned alot of pecan on a lathe…and it turns very nicely (it is one of the better woods for turning by the way)....I have not had enough around to use for other types of projects – but I have used alot of Hickory which is in the same family.

Pecan when turned…iis durable, stable and takes a beautiful finish – it makes beautiful bowls, vessels, pens and other projects….I don’t think you could possibly go wrong using it for any woodworking projects unless the wood was not treated correctly after being cut…..Hopefully it was properly dried and cut…..otherwise it would probably only be good for making pallets or such.

The grain can be very beautiful and it has a nice butterscotch color when left natural…..when spalted it is even more stunning….

Just remember though, if it is rough cut, (it will not be dimensional like the box stores sell) you willl need to surface, size and square the material prior to use….this requires at least a planer (or hand planing..and lots of time)....a jointer would be nice too…to do the squaring…If you need to get different thickness…you may need to resaw on a bandsaw….(or alot more planing…)

-- Woodworking.....My small slice of heaven!

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Lisa Chan

147 posts in 3179 days

#4 posted 10-21-2009 08:25 PM

reggie has me wanting to find some Pecan wood for turning now!

-- Lisa Chan, custom cafts and yarn accessories,

View Jim Crockett (USN Retired)'s profile

Jim Crockett (USN Retired)

852 posts in 3762 days

#5 posted 10-21-2009 10:05 PM

If I recall reading correctly, hickory and pecan are pretty much interchangeable at the lumberyard. Ask for one and you may get it or the other. Anyone know anything about this?

I know I’ve used hickory for a box and won’t do that again. Lost two 1/8” router bits and was taking very thin (1/16”) cuts and wasn’t feeding hard at all. That is just some HARD wood!


-- A veteran is someone who, at one point in his/her life, wrote a blank check made payable to "The United States of America," for an amount of "up to and including his/her life".

View tbone's profile


276 posts in 3713 days

#6 posted 10-21-2009 11:01 PM

You’re right, Jim. The pecans and hickories are commercially similar—and sometimes interchangeable.
I just did a Tour of Homes in Austin a couple of weeks ago, and one of the kitchens I saw used native Texas pecan cabinetry with a natural finish. I was very impressed with its’ beauty.
By the way, the true pecans are somewhat easier to work than the true hickories.

-- Kinky Friedman: "The first thing I'll do if I'm elected is demand a recount."

View danr's profile


154 posts in 3214 days

#7 posted 10-21-2009 11:20 PM


I have built many projects from pecan (small treasure chests for my son to entire built in wall to wall shelfs / bench window seats). Pecan is a great wood to work with. In particular, I like to use it for a piece that is refined but has a bit of a rustic look (similar to some of the things that I see made out of mesquite). The wood grain pattern can vary quite a bit (from a very light almost milky look with no pronounced grain pattern to an almost cherry like dark color with wild / pronounced grain). You should take a look at your friends wood. If it has some interesting color and grain you could make some very nice items with it.

Good luck.

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Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3315 days

#8 posted 10-21-2009 11:55 PM

You guys are right. The lumber dealers basically call it whatever you’re ordering, and nobody knows the difference.

It is a beautiful wood, makes a great looking kitchen, and is a pain in the——to work. We hate making raised panel doors with it, but I would almost be tempted to use it in my own house.


View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3576 days

#9 posted 10-22-2009 12:32 AM

Wow, now were talking about a wood I truly love. We have just recently built 3 kitchens out of Pecan here in San Antonio. They turned out very nice. Actually we are in the middle of finishing the 3rd kitchen. What a wonderful wood. I compare it to hard Maple in terms of hardness. I can raise a red oak panel a lot quicker than I can a hickory panel. Everything said so far seems right on. I have had some minor issues with chip out while on my shaper but that is probably more to the fault of the operator. When shaping it just don’t take big bites. Take a look at this page on my website: Scroll down to see some pecan/hickory doors natural

The color variation is truly amazing and the BF cost is great! I have noticed though that some boards can be a solid creamy color lacking any real charactor while other boards are full of color variations and charactor. Yesterday I bought a load Hickory and I picked through the boards because I am looking for color and charactor in the wood. It is considered our favorite wood species in our small family shop!

Oh, and it takes stain really nice. Never any issues with staining, takes it nice and even. I would only recommend a light colored stain, maybe more of a tint, so as to not take away from the natural beauty. 2 of the kitchens wanted a light stain and the natural beauty of the wood was not lost because the stain was light color. This kitchen we are doing now I talked the customer into going natural with a lacquer finish. It is a hard wood and so I did not go any higher than 120 on the grit so as to not close the grain to much and that worked great for us.

-- .

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 3397 days

#10 posted 10-22-2009 12:45 AM

Dan, watch out for that pecan wood, stuff is terible to work with and finish. I just can’t let you get stuck with that junk. Tell me where it is and I’ll dispose of it for you!

View Abe Low's profile

Abe Low

111 posts in 3875 days

#11 posted 10-22-2009 06:20 AM

I did most of my kitchen cabinets with pecan. It is very hard, heavy, strong and beautiful. NOT easy to work. I wouldn’t even think of using it with hand tools other than some minor hand planning. It tends to have a large amount of internal tension so beware of kickback when ripping on the table saw. Also, let it sit a day or so after ripping to stabilize, then re-joint as necessary. It is also excellent for use as a secondary wood for cabinet making – but about twice as heavy and three times harder to work than poplar.
I have turned some of it when wet and it is super for than. It seems to become much harder when dry.

-- Abe Low, Fine furniture, Sacramento, CA

View russdesignsinwood's profile


1 post in 552 days

#12 posted 01-04-2017 02:03 AM

Well, new to central Georgia from the west coast, I have some younger pecan trees too close to each other so I will have to chop some down to get better trees and pecans. I look forward to working with this wood green and wet for making blanks to dry. My thing is making wooden spoons and bowl sets to match. It ought to be fine stuff for sure.

-- Russ, Central Georgia,

View ColonelTravis's profile


1806 posts in 1923 days

#13 posted 01-04-2017 04:10 AM

It tends to have a large amount of internal tension so beware of kickback when ripping on the table saw. Also, let it sit a day or so after ripping to stabilize, then re-joint as necessary.
- Abe Low

It is beyond irritating if you’re not aware of the moisture content. I sliced a 1-inch chunk of pecan on a bandsaw last year and the next day it looked like a potato chip. I haven’t touched the rest of what I’ve got ever since, I want to make sure it’s dry, and the guy I bought it from said it was – but, uh, no it wasn’t.

Even so, yes, it does have unusual stress compared to other common furniture woods. It is very comparable to hickory in hardness. I’m in Texas and I wonder if the pecan here is different than the eastern kind? The stuff I have, and the furniture I’ve seen, can be incredibly swirly with multiple color changes and crazy grain – also adding to the difficulty of working it. Definitely not oak-like.

But when it’s worked and finished nice, man, it’s real nice.

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