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What Is Pear Wood?

By C.B. Fox
Updated May 17, 2024
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Pear wood comes from any species of tree in the genus Pyrus. The wood from these trees is very hard and can be carved into intricate designs without splitting or breaking. Woodwind instruments have historically been made of pear wood, which is also used to make furniture. When burned, the wood gives off a distinctive odor and imparts a flavor that makes it useful for smoking meats.

A relatively expensive wood, pear wood is harvested from pear trees, which grow slowly and do not reach great heights. These trees are usually cultivated for their fruit, and in most cases, the wood is harvested once fruit bearing trees stop producing. It can take decades to grow a pear tree from seed and wait for it to stop producing fruit. Though the wood can be harvested earlier, the trees are valuable for their fruit and are not often grown solely for lumber.

Most of the time, pear wood is a shade of yellow or pink. There are often many different colors within a single piece of wood, blending together gradually rather than appearing as distinct lines. This makes it relatively easy to match pieces. Occasionally, pear trees have dark purple heartwood.

With its extremely hard consistency, pear wood is prized for its ability to hold up to heat, moisture, and woodworking tools. It is difficult to break or crack and can be carved into intricate designs that would be impossible in softer woods. Though its usefulness is limited by its small size, furniture that is carved out of this wood is often ornate and will hold up well over time.

Small pieces of pear wood are also useful as kitchen tools because they withstand heat well and do not add flavor to the food if they are not allowed to burn. When burned, pear wood will release a distinctive smell and flavor. Meats are often smoked with wood from pear trees.

Historically, pear wood has often been used to make woodwind instruments. Clarinets, oboes, recorders, and other instruments have been made out of this wood, which is strong and easy to work. Woodwind instruments require precise carving, and working with a wood, such as pear, that will not crack easily when drilled, helps instrument makers make changes to the wood without breaking it. It also holds up well when wet, which is an important quality for woodwind instruments, as they become filled with condensation when they are played.

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Discussion Comments
By anon334278 — On May 11, 2013

There are also a lot of fine, intricately carved smoking pipes made from pear wood. They polish up very nicely and have a beautiful color and luster.

By stl156 — On Dec 19, 2011

Just recently I was taking a tour of a yacht as part of a business trip. All along the bar area, they had a beautiful wood. I asked the person about it, and he said it was Swiss pearwood veneer that they had gotten. I had never thought about it, but most boats use veneer for their wood just because having solid wood would make things too heavy.

Anyway, the wood was really nice. It was kind of a light brown toffee color. It was sort of the same color as oak, but didn't have as much grain to it.

I don't know anything about the veneer industry, but I would be curious to see one of these Swiss pear trees. They must grow to be fairly large if they are able to make veneer from it. Not to mention, I wouldn't have even expected that a pear tree would grow in Switzerland. I was afraid to ask at the time, but I'm curious how much something like that would have cost.

By jmc88 — On Dec 18, 2011

@JimmyT - Where I live, there is a specialty wood shop that wells all kinds of different wood types. One of the things they have is pearwood lumber. Usually you can just find short boards. I guess that would just be because the trees don't grow very tall like the last person mentioned. Also, they tend to branch pretty low, so it is hard to get longer boards from them.

I do really like the look of the wood, though. It is pretty unique. I don't know any other types of common woods that have the yellowish tint to them.

The boards can be kind of expensive, however, just from the fact that the supply is pretty low, and a lot of woodworkers really like using pear. Probably the best way to get the wood if you wanted to use it would just be to find someone with a pear tree that didn't mind losing a branch or two or was going to get rid of the tree anyway.

By cardsfan27 — On Dec 18, 2011

@JimmyT - My grandfather was actually a really talented wood carver, and he used pear wood for a lot of different carvings. In his back yard, he had a few pear trees that he said his father had planted when he was younger. When they were full grown, they were probably only 25 feet tall. About the same size as an apple tree. Since the fruit from them wasn't really harvested for anything, what he would do is just go out and lop off a branch of the pear tree and then use that to carve out his decorations or whatever he was making at the time.

He made a lot of carved Christmas tree ornaments, so I still have some of those that I put on my trees every year.

One of the trees finally started to die, though, so he went and cut it down and sawed the trunk and a lot of the larger branches into different sizes and made a lot of different projects with it.

By JimmyT — On Dec 17, 2011

I guess I never really thought about people being able to use the wood that comes from fruit trees. It kind of makes me wonder what the wood is like from things like apple and orange trees now.

I'm not sure I have ever seen an pear tree. How big do they usually get? Are there ever any that grow in the wild, or are pear trees always just yard trees?

If you wanted to go about using pear wood for something, how would you get hold of it? Are there special places that sell it, or would you just have to find the tree yourself and get the wood from it?

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