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Pecan- worth the effort?

Discussion in 'Woodturning Discussion Forum' started by mrGeeze, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. mrGeeze

    mrGeeze

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    Location:
    Hatteras Island NC
    A couple of months ago I had access to a pecan tree. Went out with my chainsaw & got a pile of it. Roughed out 20-30 bowls from 6" - 16" of varying depths. Wrapped them in newspaper like I always do & put them away in the shop for a month or so.

    Today I started unwrapping them and was somewhat disappointed. A lot more cracks & checks than what I usually get from other woods i turn (cherry, walnut, maple). A few bowls got pitched right in the firewood can. I reckon more will end up there before I finish them out.

    I'm thinking either I got a bad piece of tree (wind shakes? etc ) or pecan should be used for firewood and pies.

    Anyone else out there who regularly turns it in some quantity?
     
  2. Gary R Webb

    Gary R Webb Guest

    a freand and cut up two huge pecas last year panited all the end stored it corectly six mounth alter huald it all to the dume we will never mess with it agin
     
  3. charlie knighton

    charlie knighton

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    put a little wear on the chainsaw i bet :D
     
  4. Steve Worcester

    Steve Worcester Admin Emeritus

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    I don't think I have seen a pecan with wind check.
    The wood is very nice, turns easy wet, called "Pecancrete" when dry. A little dusty when dry. I typically coat the entire wet bowl with anchorseal and let it sit a year or so before finish turning. I have dome some bowls up to about 16" with pretty good success. If there are any knots in the wet piece, it will crack.You have to be good about setting up the bowl blank so when cutting the side grain bowls you have pretty even rings on both sides with no heart in it.

    As for branches, it is for the smoker, the trunk though, close to the ground is very nice, usually creamy with pinks and little red dots in it, sometimes some good figure.
     
  5. john lucas

    john lucas

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    I haven't turned a lot. A friend had a tree cut down accidentally and I got some of it. Turned bowls for the family. I don't remember having any troubles with it. It was a little harder than some woods but with sharp tools I really didn't notice that much difference. I always coat all endgrain surfaces after rough turning and coat the entire tenon area inside and out. This has stopped much of my losses.
     
  6. Dave Roller

    Dave Roller

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    Pecan and hickory are in the same family. I've just turned @ 30 bowls from a hickory tree taken down in my yard. I coated them all with Anchor Seal before storing them in the attic of my garage.

    Needless to say, I hope I don't have the splitting normally associated with hickory.
     
  7. waltben

    waltben

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    I was fortunate to get all the branch wood from a very old and very large pecan tree that blew over during hurricane Isabel some years back. Most of the wood spalted before I could get it turned. None of it cracked significantly. I've made and sold pieces from it up to 22" diameter and 14" tall (photo attached). All were highly figured and had great color. I've still got several medium sized blanks left that are completely dry after four years sitting in my garage. It is a fibrous kind of wood that is difficult to hollow, but it does turn fairly well otherwise by my experience.
     

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  8. waltben

    waltben

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    Forgot to add a finished photo.
     

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  9. bob elliott

    bob elliott

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    Dave,
    That sounds like a scary situation. If I were you, I'd be popping my head up in the attic to check on those bowls. Here in Florida, they would be toast!
     
  10. Bill Pottorf

    Bill Pottorf

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    I have not had any problems with cracking or splitting from Pecan and have turned a lot of it. I do boil the rough turnings (another thread in this forum), let those air dry and then coat with endgrain sealer, bag them for a year or so before finish turnings. If you would go to my gallery and look at the Dodecasette Deviled Egg Platter, that is a piece of Red Pecan (Water Hickory) which had undergone this treatment before turning and carving. Very nice and beautiful wood to turn. Your luck may be with the individual tree or not preparing the wood for drying properly? Don't know for sure.

    Bill
     
  11. Bill Boehme

    Bill Boehme Administrator Staff Member

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    Pecan seems to be a favorite among our club members. It turns wonderfully when wet and as Steve said, it is somewhat dusty when dry. Dry pecan is not nearly as hard as dry hickory -- I have turned hickory wet, but I am not sure that dry hickory can even be turned. There is a very good reason that hickory is used for axe handles, but pecan simply is not tough enough to be used for an axe handle. I have some hickory that is about three years old that is stored outdoors if anybody would like to try turning it. I figure that in another ten years or so that I might be able to turn it when it begins to spalt.
     
  12. Dave Roller

    Dave Roller

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    Bob, you make a good point. The attic has stand-up room (indeed, the area above my workshop is an enclosed room) and good air movement. Right now, its below freezing, and I don't expect the temps to get above 80* up there until April. By then, I'll be moving them down and weighing them again.

    The garage-workshop is a stand alone building, and the only heat is in the workshop (wood-burning stove) and the room above (electric, on demand).
     
  13. Charles Henderson

    Charles Henderson

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    Here in Roswell we have hundreds, if not thousands, of acres of Pecan orchards

    I consider myself lucky to have a supply of it whenever I feel the desire. It is a great wood. It is excellent when wet, and when dry the term "Pecancrete" is very apt. If you can handle the repeated sharpenings and abuse of turning, it is well worth it.

    As far as drying goes, if I can do it in the desert with 20% humidity, then anybody can make it survive. The best idea really is to boil after rough turning, cover in Anchorseal, AND put it in a bag with shavings for a few months. Every precaution must be made, and the failure rate will still be annoying.

    If you plan to store it in log form, then expect to lose more of the ends than you would with typical hardwoods. If you split the logs, take a wider pith cut than usual to remove at least the first four or five rings.

    The limbs, imho, aren't entirely worthless. I've made several goblets and boxes out branches that turned out fine.
     
  14. Virgil Young

    Virgil Young

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    Pecan turning

    I usually only turn seasoned wood. But, when I get green pecan I slather both ends of the log and let it set on the shelf with only the air I breathe to cover it. After three to sox months I turn to this finish. No cracking, no splitting. I do like to turn pecan.
     
  15. ken belanus

    ken belanus

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    Pecan turning in OKlahoma

    i find it is best to get ice storm wood so the sap is down. this way it is easier to lift and you will get beautiful white background and the highlights mentioned by other admirers. youhave about three days to get all the bark off all of it here in OK. on the fourth day, the borers take over and your wood will become swiss cheese wiith 3/16 diameter holes. pecan is bug candy. keep in mind that if the bark wood is in your house, so are the borers, so carefully dispose of all of it or use it for smoking only if you store it away from your home.

    i got 90% success with last winter's storm wood after roughing it within the first week after cutting. i coat end grain and chucking spigots areas with white elmers glue. walmart gives it away at the end of the school year for like 8 cents for the 4 oz packages. i store the bowls on the floor in their wet shavings for a few days while cleaning the shop and wd40-ing all the tools and lathes. Next, keep them cool for a week in paper sacks and then in the open in an unheated shop for a month. last, into the dry house for about three months. i guess it is only about 12% mc but i turn it before it becomes like cast iron. this takes advantage of pecan's extreme strength, which you can exploit and save some steel. they were all perfectly white, no cracks, no warping...wish i had saved some for a chess set. i also got great lidded boxes on the same schedule, but they were small and turned to half inch max thickness.

    spalting the main crotch by keeping a huge piece covered in plastic for two years caused grey mold on the outside 8 inches waste all around...but pure gold would be not as fine, and this wood sells 100% of the time. got some to share? i'dtake all you can get and take the hickory too. if you are fighting the wood, sharpen the tool and keep the rest within 1/8 of the surface. not moving the rest close to the wood is what keeps people from succes...you can turn steel with M2...keeping overhang minimum maximizes your leverage for cutting this great timber.

    enjoy
     
  16. Tony Batemon

    Tony Batemon

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    Hello All:

    I'm new to the board so imagine my delight when I found this post about pecan. I acquired about a 1/2 pickup load in October 2007. I've turned several bowls with good results and have now started turning some hollow forms out of the same load. The worm holes and spalting give the pieces a lot of character. As I read on this post, it turns great when wet and is sort of like turning a rock when dry. I'll post some pics when I get the chance.
     
  17. Marc Ruby

    Marc Ruby

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    Location:
    Michigan
    I just posted a spalted pecan bowl in my gallery and came here and saw this thread. Please - if anyone doesn't want their pecan please SHIP IT TO ME!!!!

    Marc
     

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  18. Tony K. in NC

    Tony K. in NC

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    here are a couple

    These came from a piece of almost gone pecan that someone gave me, wish i had more.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Tony
     
  19. JDaniels

    JDaniels

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    Lexington, SC
    Anchorseal is the way for me

    I got an entire truck load of pecan from a friend. I anchorsealed the logs, it eventually weathered off, but not before minimizing any cracks, even as whole logs. I've never had much of a problem with pecan and have gotten some really nicely feathered grain patterns out of some platters as well. I would have to agree that it might have been that particular tree or the preparation. I have friends who use the paper bags once the bowls are rough turned. I just use anchorseal, let it dry on the wood, and put them in my "drying bowl bin" until i decide to turn it.

    To date, I have not had a Plum bowl not crack. Beautiful wood, but it cracks everytime. All I can hope is that it cracks at the top of the rim, not very deeply, and I can still turning it down to an area that isn't cracked.
    Thanks,
    Jay
     

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