Sawing and Drying Pecan Wood

Advice on handling a Pecan yard tree including the story of hitting a couple of nails. December 12, 2008

I am ready to cut a 33" x 8' 6" pecan log on my bandmill. Any advice on cutting this into boards or cants? I had planned to air dry it, but if a kiln is necessary, I can get it dried locally. I read that due to excess moisture it has problems drying.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Pecan and true hickory are dried the same... carefully to avoid checking, but not too slowly to avoid staining. "Drying Hardwood Lumber" has advice. Air drying can be used if the wood is protected from the rain. Kiln drying from the saw is often the best quality. I think that it is easier to dry 1" than 2" or thicker. Higher than typical moisture indicates bacterial infections that do cause slower drying, weaken wood, checking, etc.

From contributor W:
I sawed up a large pecan log for use as wainscot paneling in my mudroom. I quartersawed the log and air dried the boards. With such a large log, I suggest you have it quartersawn. The grain is nice, and the wood is more stable in drying and in use.

From the original questioner:
Thank you. I used your advice and cut the log today into four cants, 10.25 x11.50. Will quartersaw tomorrow. Came out just fine except a nail on the first cut. About a 12 penny at 90 degrees. Finished the cutting with the band but will change out before cutting boards. I will sticker in the shade in Oregon, with all the weight I can find. I've cut a lot of our western woods but eastern trees out here are rare and have bastard growth compared to out east.

From contributor B:
Flatsawn pecan can be sort of interesting too.

My guess is the Good Dr. would say this had some bacteria in it? It has a little more than normal distinction between sapwood and heartwood.

Click here for higher quality, full size image

From Professor Gene Wengert, forum technical advisor:
Looks more like heartwood and sapwood from the picture.

From the original questioner:
Well, bad news boys. I cut the cants today and made a shower of sparks with the fourth band while sawing the first outer slab. I've had yard tree problems before but this is the worst. I did get all quartersawing done and the wood is beautiful, but as you know, once you get into a log like this, it's hard to let it go. I haven't ruined (broken) any bands, but they sure went south. Cut the wood 1.125" to give some to drying and except for a handful of nails I am okay with this trade.

From contributor B:
For those new to the forum check out these past posts on the subject of what is in these logs - my favorites are the gold dust and the fence post about 60 feet in the air.

Strange Stories From the Sawmill