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Forum topic by shopmania posted 08-15-2011 06:57 PM 4253 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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701 posts in 3146 days

08-15-2011 06:57 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question milling

A cousin of mi wife’s recently took down a very old pecan tree on his property. The main party of the trunk is about 28” across and 7+ ft long. there is also a 14 ft long piece that tapers from 28 ” to about 12”, and a 3 piece 10’ long, 17” on the fat end that flattens to 12×18 on the “skinny” end. According to a calculator I found online, it should come to about 500 board feet, in addition top some turning blanks from some smaller branches. He says I can have it if I want it. A local portable saw mill guy says that he can cut it up for me. He charges a minimum 1/2 day at $400.00. At first blush this sounds like a good deal, pecan lumber for less than $1 per board foot. It seems that Pecan (or Hickory, which seems to be interchangeable) goes for about $4 per board foot.

My Questions: How long would it need to season. are my calculations accurate? I used the “International ” scale, instead of Doyle or Scribner. Does it make much difference? I have one buddy who is interested in sharing the cost. Any other lumberjocks in the Myrtle Beach area who might be interested in a cost share for some pecan lumber?

I guess AI can always sell some on Craigslist. Has anyone had experience of luck with that?

-- Tim, Myrtle Beach, Just one more tool, that's all I need! :)

12 replies so far

View Nomad62's profile


726 posts in 2922 days

#1 posted 08-15-2011 07:56 PM

Pecan is volitile as it dries, it loves to crack and warp; it is also very hard and beautiful wood. I would recommend air drying it for several months before putting it in a kiln, something I would deem necessary as pecan also is good for bug infestation. It sounds like a great opportunity! As far as the board footage goes, don’t worry about it; just slice it up and get what you can. Most scales are designed for circular saw work, band saws can help or hurt depending on the sawyer and the blade condition. It is hard to sell wood retail, but not impossible; takes patience and luck…and always deal in cash on-the-spot.

-- Power tools put us ahead of the monkeys

View Tim Kindrick's profile

Tim Kindrick

369 posts in 2518 days

#2 posted 08-15-2011 10:22 PM

A couple of years ago a family friend who owns a pecan orchard was cutting up trees to make wood flooring for his house. I helped him one day and he gave me about 5 nice planks of this beautiful pecan. After letting it dry for a couple of years, I noticed that 4 pieces were so badly infested with borers that they were unusable!! The one That didn’t have borers ended up with a spalling fungus or “spalted” because I left it out in the open to dry. At first I thought this piece was ruined but after turning it into a serving tray it actually turned out quite nice.

My advice would be to make sure it’s free of insects before spending the money to cut it. How did the tree die? Or was it just cut down to remove it? Pecan is pretty hard but not any harder that say Ash, which I use all the time. I have heard that you should let wood dry at the rate of 1 year for each 1 inch of thickness. Good Luck!!!

-- I have metal in my neck but wood in my blood!!

View Jim Jakosh's profile

Jim Jakosh

20280 posts in 3069 days

#3 posted 08-16-2011 01:42 AM

I would air dry it on sticker for a year. Check the moisture then and see if it is around 8%. That is where I use it.
Pecan does crack and maybe if you cut it green and lay it out to dry you can eliminate some of the cracking. I use round stock from the orchards in Arizona and if it is left to dry too long on the branch, it breaks down into little squares and then it is called firewood.

That is a lot of wood you’ll be getting out of the deal so the price seems okay. The risk is on you if it cracks, however.
Good luck…...........Jim

-- Jim Jakosh.....Practical Wood Products...........Learn something new every day!! Variety is the Spice of Life!!

View WDHLT15's profile


1730 posts in 2440 days

#4 posted 08-16-2011 03:51 AM

I have cut and dried a good bit of pecan. It will air dry to about 12 – 15% moisture in your area, and that will take about 4 – 6 months. It will not air dry below that level no matter how long you leave it stacked. After air drying on stickers, you can dead stack it under a shed or in a garage, workshop, etc. If you plan ahead, you can bring what you need for your next project into your house or workshop, if it is temp and humidity controlled, re-sticker it in an out of the way place for about 3 weeks, and the wood will continue to dry and will equilibrate to the equilibrium moisture content inside your house. Put the very best grade on the bottom of the air drying stack using 1” stickers (3/4 ” minimum). The weight of the lower grade wood on top of the better grade wood will keep the best boards flat from the weight. Also, good air flow is paramount. The stack must be outside under a top cover or under a shed with open sides so air can circulate. If you have poor air circulation, pecan will gray stain due to an enzymatic reaction that takes place when the humidity in the stack is too high. This is also a common problem with maple, hackberry, and some other species.

The next thing is that powder post beetles love pecan. They infest the wood after it is air dry, not when it is green. You have to either heat the wood to an internal temperature of about 160 degrees for 4 to 6 hours in a kiln or either you can spray the green lumber with a borate salt solution. There are several borate products out there. TimBor is one and Sol-u-Bor is another. They have the same active ingredient, but Timbor is a good bit more expensive since it is labeled for pesticide use while Sol-u-Bor is labeled as a boron fertilizer supplement for agricultural crops. Mix one pound of Sol-u-Bor to one gallon of hot water (makes it easier to mix) and spray it on the green lumber until the entire surface front and back as well as the two sides are totally wet. This will retard any infestation of powder post beetles.

It is a beast to sand, is rough on blades and knives (pecan is a hickory), but it is very beautiful wood. Good luck with your project!

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3267 days

#5 posted 08-16-2011 04:14 AM

yea i have some also that i had cut down about 4months ago…went to plane a small piece and use it for a small projects…man, and ive got fairly new blades in my planer, which is a 5 hp delta 15 inch planer…and that stuff is hard…...i was getting a little tear out so be careful to talk very little off on each pass….,,drying time…one year per inch of thickness…..or if you can get around 8 percent…that would be good…good luck…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4177 posts in 2525 days

#6 posted 08-16-2011 04:24 AM

If you do not mind you could also put alittle anchorseal on the ends and it really keep the splitting and cracking to almost nil.
If you do not mind me asking, could you save me 3 pieces of limb 5”x5”x12” long. I would send you some money for postage. They make great mallets.

Thank You

-- Please help me help other Vets click..> is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View shopmania's profile


701 posts in 3146 days

#7 posted 08-25-2011 09:12 PM

Thanks everybody for your great information! I really appreciate the help!

-- Tim, Myrtle Beach, Just one more tool, that's all I need! :)

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 2641 days

#8 posted 08-28-2011 06:29 AM

Tim, there is a good sawyer north of you in Burgaw, NC if you’re able to transport the logs.

Danny’s (WDHLT15) advice, as usual, is right on target, except that if you mill in the next week or two in your area you’ll be down below 20% MC in about 65 days. If you wait two months to mill, then as Danny mentioned air drying will require about 4 – 6 months.

Re the temp required for sterilizing – technically it’s 133F and the core of the boards need to reach that temp for 4 hours. This generally requires at least 12 hours in order for the temp to sink in; however if you use 160 per Danny the core of the boards will reach 133 much quicker, and hence 6 hours will do it.

Two years ago I obtained some pecan logs and let them spalt for a year before milling. Some of the wood was absolutely spectacular, if you’re into wood with a lot of character.

To determine the actual yield of your logs, use the calculator in the Toolbox on The Forestry Forum. Here is a link to it – select the “board foot Log”

Use the small end diameter for the calculations. Either Doyle or International scale. If your miller operates an older style circle mill, Doyle will be more accurate. If they have a band mill, International will be closer.

Once your boards are air dried, if you don’t mind driving for 3 hours I can sterilize them in my kiln for you. You can also build a sterilization chamber yourself (see the plans in last December’s FWW magazine).

Danny – thanks for the tip about Sol-u-bor. I recently ran out of Tim-bor, and would like to try your suggestion. Do you have any on-line suppliers that you’d recommend?

-- Scott, North Carolina,

View greenhorn712's profile


6 posts in 2424 days

#9 posted 08-31-2011 07:21 PM

Shopmania, you mentioned a board footage calculator that you found online that looks from your description that it is using both the fat and skinny end of a log. From what I’ve read online this is a “Two end conic rule?” I’m looking for an online calculator that uses that rule to calculate board footage and weight of trees/logs as I’m going to do some small scale logging in the near future. Do you or anyone else know of an online calculator using the two end rule? I’ve been unsuccessful in finding one. Thanks!

-- Nancy~~Washington State

View WDHLT15's profile


1730 posts in 2440 days

#10 posted 09-02-2011 04:24 AM


I buy the Sol-U-Bor from an Agricultural Feed/Seed/Fertilizer co-op in a farming town in Middle GA. Since this is cotton and peanut country, these farmer-oriented AG supply places exist. Not sure if that is the case in your area, but someone around has to sell chemicals and fertilizer, and they should be able to order it for you. I paid $45 for a 50# bag, or a little less than $1.00/pound.

Having to spray for powderpost beetles is a major pain, but I have to do it in my area for the ring porous hardwoods (oak, ash, hickory, pecan) or they will get in it every time.


-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 2641 days

#11 posted 09-05-2011 05:05 AM

Nancy, re your quest for an online calculator try the Forestry Forum. ( About half-way down the page on the left will be an icon for the “Toolbox”. Click on that, and several different calculator options are available.

-- Scott, North Carolina,

View Scsmith42's profile


125 posts in 2641 days

#12 posted 09-05-2011 05:05 AM

Danny, thanks for the info – I’ll check with my local ag stores.

-- Scott, North Carolina,

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