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Pecan wood is wood from the pecan tree, a North American native which belongs to the hickory family. Sometimes pecan wood is labeled as hickory wood, and woods from other hickory species may be mixed with it at some sawmills. Use of this wood is primarily isolated to the United States, with most of the timber produced in North America remaining there. In the United States, pecan is one of the bestselling wood products for finishing such as flooring, counters, and trim.
This wood has a golden to creamy color, with reddish heartwood. It is close grained, dense, and very hard; pecan is one of the hardest woods readily available, making it especially suitable for applications such as flooring, in which soft woods are not ideal because they tend to break down. Pecan's hardness can actually be a problem, as it tends to dull saws and bend nails.
The primary drawback to pecan wood is that it has a high moisture content, and it can shrink dramatically. When using this wood, people should make sure that it is fully cured, or they may run into problems as the wood shrinks. Green pecan wood can also warp as it shrinks, which can create other issues. This wood also tends to take best to screws, rather than nails, and it can help to predrill it to facilitate the process of joinery.
A number of finishes can be used with pecan wood. The wood takes stain well after drying, and it can also be varnished with both dull and matte varnishes. Many people like to simply sand it to smooth it and lightly finish it, allowing the natural grain of the pecan wood to show. Pecan wood can also be painted. In some construction projects, it may be used with other visually interesting woods to create a rich pattern of textures and colors, as seen in pecanwood tables, chairs, and other woodworking projects.
In addition to being used in construction, pecan wood can also be used for smoking and other cooking tasks. Like other members of the hickory family, it can impart a rich, complex flavor to foods smoked over pecan logs or charcoal with pecan chips. It can also be used to make grilling planks for foods such as seafood. Pecan wood chips and grilling planks should be soaked before use so that they will release their scent slowly over time, rather than simply burning.