Hickory or Pecan

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Ideas for telling two highly similar plywood faces apart. February 25, 2005

I have a friend that is doing a hickory job. He ordered B2 grade plywood - one side is hickory and the other is pecan, but he can't tell which is which. Can anyone help? I have never worked with hickory. How much trouble is he in for?

Forum Responses
(Cabinet and Millwork Installation Forum)
Pecan and hickory are related and they are difficult to tell apart. I have read that industry standards allow for pecan and hickory to be sold without specification of the exact species.

Other than being able to determine a difference in the quality of one face or the other, I am not sure if one could always determine which was which by the eye.

As far as working with hickory, it is a very hard wood that is hard on tools. I enjoy working with it - but you must have very sharp tools. I have also noticed that hickory is prone to tear out, so if you are using any router profiles, prepare to use a greater percentage of overstock to accommodate.

I can't tell you which is which, but I would wet each face and then match the colors. Right now they may not be visibly different, but when you apply a finish, it might just bite ya.

Most sheets will have the grade and species on one end or edge. The writing will always read upright, as you are reading this message. So the top of the sheet would be your good side.

Hickory or pecan, you will never be able to tell which is which a month down the road. Hickory is good wood. Solid stuff will warp on you sometimes, when you think that is all behind you. If you get a piece with nice wavy grain and stain it a mahogany color, you can call it bubinga, and the smartest guy you know won't be able to tell the difference without cutting or scraping it.