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Hey guys, a friend of mine had several Pecan Trees come down in the last storm. He has only looked at one of them and says it has a 24" trunk and is not rotted anywhere. Since I have a sawmill, I'm considering pulling it over there for the lumber. Since I'm new at this, I just wanted to ask if anybody has used any Pecan lumber for projects. Is it worth sawing up? He says I can have it for free. If so, what dimensions do you guys think I should saw the boards. The guy I bought the mill from tells me it is like a lower grade of Hickory. He also tells me to saw nothing wider than 4" because no matter how long I dry it, it will warp when used in furniture of cabinetry. I'm thinking I'll saw it 4 1/2" X 1 1/2" X ?ft. I'll have to look at the log to see how long the boards can be. This will leave me room for finishing later. Any thoughts, recommendations.
 

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yes...
it's often mixed/confused w/ hickory...
tools and finishes the same...

Common Name(s): Pecan
Scientific Name: Carya illinoinensis
Distribution: South-central United States and Mexico
Tree Size: 100-130 ft (30-40 m) tall, 2-4 ft (.6-1.2 m) trunk diamete
Average Dried Weight: 46 lbs/ft3 (735 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .60, .74
Janka Hardness: 1,820 lbf (8,100 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 13,700 lbf/in2 (94.5 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,730,000 lbf/in2 (11.93 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 7,850 lbf/in2 (54.1 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 4.9%, Tangential: 8.9%, Volumetric: 13.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.8
Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be light to medium brown, with a reddish hue; sapwood is a paler yellowish brown.
Grain/Texture: Grain is usually straight, though occasionally wavy. Texture is medium, with a low natural luster.
Endgrain: Ring-porous to semi-ring-porous; large to very large earlywood pores in a single intermittent row, medium to small latewood pores solitary and radial multiples of 2-3, few; tyloses common; parenchyma reticulate (bands absent from earlywood row in true hickory group, but present in pecan hickory group); narrow rays, close spacing.

Rot Resistance: Considered to be non-durable to perishable regarding heartwood decay, and also very susceptible to insect attack.
Workability: Difficult to work, with tearout being common during machining operations if cutting edges are not kept sharp; the wood tends to blunt cutting edges. Glues, stains, and finishes well. Responds well to steam bending.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with Pecan. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Pricing/Availability: Various species of Hickory and Pecan (Carya genus) are typically mixed together and simply sold as Hickory. Prices are usually in the low to mid range, depending upon local availability. Hickory prices should compare similarly to other utility hardwoods such as Red Oak or Soft Maple.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Tool handles, ladder rungs, wheel spokes, and flooring.
Comments: Pecan has slightly lower strength values than some of the other species of Hickory, but it is still among the hardest and strongest of woods native to the United States. The wood is commonly used where strength or shock-resistance is important. As the common name implies, Carya illinoinensis is the tree responsible for producing Pecan nuts commonly used in snacks and cooking recipes, and is the state tree of Texas.

Pecan falls into the Pecan-Hickory grouping, which tends to be slightly stabler but weaker than the True-Hickories, and is considered to be a semi-ring-porous wood. The strength characteristics of Pecan are somewhat influenced by the spacing of its growth rings. In general, wood from faster-growing trees, with wider spaced growth rings, tends to be harder, heavier, and stronger than wood from slower-growing trees that have rings which are closer together.

In addition to strength and hardness applications, the wood of Carya species also has a very high thermal energy content when burned, and is sometimes used as fuelwood for wood stoves. Additionally, Pecan is also used as charcoal in cooking meat, with the smoke imparting additional flavor to the food.

Related Species:

Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)
Mockernut Hickory (Carya tomentosa)
Nutmeg Hickory (Carya myristiciformis)
Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra)
Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)
Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa)
Water Hickory (Carya aquatica)
 

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He says I can have it for free.
If it is wood, and free, take it. If you get some good for nothing else, you can likely sell it as firewood, or just burn it in a bonfire. I would have started loading it as soon as he said free. Get it, before he changes his mind, and figure out the details later. Better yet, send it to me.
 

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If it's free and you have the means to saw it and dry it, go get it. Pecan can make some beautiful furniture.

TI tend to avoid tree cutting and trying to harvest wood because I don't have the equipment or the muscle power at my age.. I now purchase all of my wood at lumber yards all cut into planks and dried. It's easy for me to take it from there and make things from it.

Charley
 

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I have a stack of pecan for a tabletop that I'm finally going to finish this winter. The guy who gave the lumber to me said that pecan is a first cousin to hickory, and you know what they make with hickory. It also makes nice pen blanks.
 

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Personally, I love pecan wood - it isn't too commonly available around here. Thick boards do tend to twist a bit, but planed-down to 3/4" to 1", it is one of my favorite woods to work with. I built a room of furniture for our middle daughter with pecan and it still looks and functions as good as it did when I finished building and delivering it. Pecan, technically is in the hickory family - along with walnut. You will want to work with straight-grained lumber - it gets a bit wild around limbs, etc. And it takes a finish nicely!

Otis Guillebeau from Auburn, Georgia
 

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If it is prone to twist then treat it like I do white birch. Dry pile it with stickers every two feet and no more than 12" from the ends of pile it high so that there is lots of weight on the lower layers. Old timers here told me to restack the pile every month or so so that all the boards would have weight on them but that's too much work at my age. Maybe stack something else on top of the pecan if you can. One of the things about using it for furniture is that you rarely need something more than 3-4" long and as someone told me years ago, "the shorter you cut it, the straighter it gets". A jointer will straighten out a little twist and the planer will make it uniform and you plan on leaving enough material to deal with that so go for it.
 

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CC, know what you mean. I do one sit-up a day- half when I get out of bed and the other half when I get into bed.
Could you use ratchet straps in several places to hold the boards in place to keep from warping?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks guys, I'll go ahead and saw it. I guess I'll try 1 1/2" X 4 1/2" by whatever length the log allows. That should give me plenty of leeway for irregularities. Maybe some 1 1/4" X 4 1/4" as well to cut down on planning if it turns out good.

And if anybody is close to Tallahassee, I'm always ready to get rid of some wood cheap! I will be trying different wood as time allows. Right now all I have is Red Oak, Hickory and Laurel Oak (and of course Slash Pine). Quite a bit of Cedar, but I have plans for that.
 

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Quenten I like 5/4 material. By the time you flatten and plane it`s around 7/8 to 1". I've compared projects built with 3/4" to ones built with 7/8 or 1" and the thicker material gives the project a more custom look whereas the 3/4"material looks like lumber from a lumberyard. That little bit of thickness makes a big difference. You might want to include some 9/4 in there too for things like table legs.
 
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If you are going to use it to make something out of it then okay, but if you are going to burn it please use it for grilling and nothing else. It gives the food a distinct flavor that many people like. Please just don't use it for firewood, that would be such a waist.
 

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Thanks guys, I'll go ahead and saw it. I guess I'll try 1 1/2" X 4 1/2" by whatever length the log allows. That should give me plenty of leeway for irregularities. Maybe some 1 1/4" X 4 1/4" as well to cut down on planning if it turns out good.

And if anybody is close to Tallahassee, I'm always ready to get rid of some wood cheap! I will be trying different wood as time allows. Right now all I have is Red Oak, Hickory and Laurel Oak (and of course Slash Pine). Quite a bit of Cedar, but I have plans for that.

Quenten, I wish I did live close. I would like to have some oak.
 
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