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Lumber Guide: Pecan Wood Uses And Properties

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Pecan (Carya illinoinensis) is a deciduous hardwood tree belonging to the hickory family. There are about 18 species of the hickory family and pecan is one of them. Pecan nuts are not strange to us but here we’re talking about the pecan woods.

Pecans have a close resemblance to true hickories, in fact, pecan (expect bitter pecan) cannot be separated from hickories on the basis of the structural appearance. In detail, the sapwood of Pecan is white, relatively thick and the heartwood is dark, with a reddish hue.

Pecans are the wood for strength, hardness, and toughness. It increases your woodworking convenience – holds the nails and screws well. Just a drawback of this wood while at work is that you can encounter difficulty in gluing operation, but not that serious.

There are similar other characters, uses of Pecan wood that should be praised. It is also used as a substitute for oak when at a high price. We’ll outline all those in this article, along with which, we’ll be providing you some guides for Pecan flooring, veneering, and furniture making.

Quick Glance at Pecan Trees

pecan trees

Pecan trees and the true hickories are kindred species. Pecan is a monoecious plant bearing both male and female flowers on the same tree. However, they develop at different times. These trees are the largest in the hickory family and can reach the height of 70 to 100 feet spreading their canopy between 40 to 75 feet.

To understand the wood and the characteristics that might mean something to you in your woodworking, it really does pay to know a few things about trees.

Pecan Leaves

Pecan leaves are about 18 inches long with each of nine to seventeen leaflets. The outer ends of leaflets curve like a falcon’s beak. Leaves are lustrous and are dark green on the top and pale green underneath.

Pecan Fruits

pecan fruits

Pecan fruits/drupes are like the fruits of all other hickory genera, surrounded by a husk. At ripening, these husks split open into four sections, exposing nutshell inside.

Woodworking Properties of Pecan

Woodworking Properties of Pecan

The perfect execution of your woodworking projects depends on three major factors: your craftsmanship skill, your tools, and the nature of wood you’re working on. You should pay special attention to their properties as you don’t want to waste your money on the wrong product. Don’t worry, we’re here for you.

The reason Pecan to be preferred in woodworking is because of its excellent properties. Here’s what we are talking about:


In the biological study, wood density is simply the ratio of the oven-dry mass of wood and the mass of water displaced by its green volume. The density of commercial pecan is 0.59 which also determines the strength of wood. This can be a substitution for oak, birch, and maple for many uses.


The Pecan wood is blessed with numerous uniform pores throughout the growth ring. So far as the knowledge goes, the structure of bitter pecan somewhat resembles those of black walnut. So, in case you can’t buy walnut lumber, you know what to do.

The close resemblance to true hickories makes the use of Pecan interchangeable with the former. If your project does not require extreme toughness, you can undoubtedly use Pecan as your substitute for the hickories.


Pecan wood with proper density is best in strength, hardness, and toughness, already mentioned. Having said that, Pecan can be someones in pick sled, ax, and similar handles.

Dense Pecans are also used in the construction of auto truck bodies, automobile passengers, posts, and pillars. The wood gives very good service in various uses for which it is put in the truck building.


One of the accurate ways to determine the durability of any hardwood species is the Janka rating. The scale ranges from 0 to 4,000 in softness. A zero rating means the wood is too soft to be used and 4000 means the wood is hard to work with.

In the case of Pecan, the Janka rating is 1,820. This means it’s not as easy to work as other hardwoods but once it has proceeded to woodworking it is quite durable.

Pecan Wood Uses

Pecan Wood Uses

If you’ve made it this far, we’re sure you’ve figured out the ways to use your Pecan lumber. Pecan wood being this versatile is a popular choice for flooring, furniture, paneling, veneering, and cabinets. This wood is extensively used in barbequing as well.


Pecan is the number one wood replacement for walnut and mahogany in furniture and chair factories. Let us say this is the most consumed wood in these factories. In situations where hardness and strength are required, Pecan woods are used in design for slender parts.

Strength and resilience are the keys in the chair work where dense Pecans fit very well. The stretchers, rungs, rocker runners, and spindle in the chair work are the majority of Pecans. Many office chairs have a slight bend are made by the Pecans to imitate Mahogany.


Pecan gives you the best color – the heartwood is reddish-brown and the sapwood is white with pink undertones. Either way, it serves you with the best. Another distinctive feature of Pecan wood is its grains. If your flooring is of Pecan woods, you’ll see a beautiful swirled grain, with pecked streaks. With the excellent durability of Pecan wood, you’ll not need to worry about the flooring in any way.

Kitchen Cabinets

You must be very careful while choosing the wood for your kitchen cabinets. In that sense, you should choose those woods that will not affect your health, are environmentally friendly, that are heat resistant.

The contrasting appearance of Pecan woods adds to their appeal with pecan wood cabinetry making for beautiful kitchen cabinets. Those who choose Pecan wood know that it is a smooth, extremely strong, close-grained wood with a beautiful grain pattern. Rustic Pecan cabinets have irregular and wavy grain patterns giving you a more pleasing look.


The rustic appearance of unstained Pecan wood due to heartwood and sapwood color contrast gives dramatic coloration. Along with that, it contains bird-peck details. If this doesn’t attract you then I wonder what does. Your Pecan veneers are more attractive when left unstained and protected by a clear finish.

Pecan for Smoking

Pecan wood is one possible nominated lumber variety. It gives an aromatic flavor and grants you a strong bite to the meat cooked within its smoke. Pecan trees yield a very subtle flavor when smoked and give you an overwhelming experience. If you’ve got Pecan wood around you, do not forget to use it as a smoker to these foods:

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Pork
  • Beef
  • Ham
  • Smoke Spare Ribs

Pecan for Firewoods

In spite of having a higher moisture content, Pecan wood, because of its good drying property seasons quickly leading to a drop in moisture level. It is one of the best options for firewood because of its smoking qualities and low amount of leftover ashes.

British Thermal Unit (BTU) is the factor that determines the quality of firewood. The BTU value of Pecan is 28 million/cord which means it has really good burning properties.

Seasoning in Pecan Woods

Seasoning in Pecan Woods

As mentioned above, the moisture content in the Pecan trees/woods is somewhat higher (25%) than in other hardwoods. Therefore, proper seasoning and drying are recommended on these woods.

While drying your Pecan woods, you must be very careful to store them above the ground and in a dry area where the wood can dry out in the natural sun and don’t get rained on. The moisture plays a damaging role in the flavor, smoke, and overall taste the wood can bring to your food.

For using the Pecan woods in barbequing/smoking, you should dry the lumber for12 to 18 months. This will be an ideal time and the wood will bring a more mellow flavor to the food. If you want to use the Pecans for the campfire, 12 months of time will be appropriate.


Question: Is Pecan Affordable?

Answer: Pecan wood is the best substitute for expensive woods like mahogany, walnut, oak. It is a medium-priced wood also used to imitate the former woods. However, the price may differ according to the dealer.

Question: Is Pecan Fire Resistant?

Answer: Pecan is in the hickory family, answering this question- yes this wood is fire resistant. That’s the reason it can be used in kitchen cabinets and in making your dining table.

Question: Is Pecan a Hardwood?

Most of the deciduous trees are considered hard. Easy identification of deciduous trees is that they lose their leaves in winter. When in doubt, you can take a look at Janka Rating System.

Question: Is Pecan Wood Easy to Split?

Answer: If you dry the wood and season it properly, the woods can split up easily. However, it really depends on the wood. Some are easy to split while some wood contains twisted grain-resisting the split.

Question: Can I Stain Pecan Woods?

Answer: Many woodworkers apply paints, stains, and gloss to obtain a lustrous look in their woods. Same is the case in Pecan woods. But, because Pecan woods have their own pronounced look, we suggest you keep it unstained. The natural staining process for Pecan wood is- keep your wood on hot water, let it dry, and voila you’ll see great grain patterns.


Pecan woods being in the Hickory family and the Walnut group serves you with great appearance and strength. As we mentioned already, it imitates the expensive woods- so why waste money on something big when you can buy a similar product at a fairly low price.

This wood will never fail to impress you with its grain patterns, color, strength, stiffness, and durability. Not to forget the amazing aroma it give to your food in Barbequing. We hope this article was quite a help to you and to know more about trees and wood guides please check out The Forestry Pros.

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