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Thread: Pecan wood stocks?

  1. #1
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Pecan wood stocks?

    4 years ago we had a freak summer storm with a harsh downdraft/ wind shear that broke two huge limbs from our tallest native pecan tree. A friend has a sawmill so he cut several bench top size 3" thick slabs for me. I have made knife handles and pistol grips and they turned out fine. Will this wood make a decent rifle stock? It has been drying for 4 years inside my shop.
    Thanks in advance for your answers.

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  2. #2
    Boolit Master

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    Yes it will. A friend of mine made one in my shop and it turned out quite well. I'm going to qualify the answer though, and state that I don't know if there are different species/varieties of pecan -- but if there are, like walnut I'd think that they'd all work. The stock my friend made was dense, heavy, and light brown with a greenish tint to it and with yellowish streaks of grain. Very attractive. The wood came out of Arkansas.

  3. #3
    Boolit Buddy
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    Pecan is closely related to hickory and is often sold as hickory by sawmills. It's hardness and strength is the same as hickory so it can double as a stock and as a hammer handle. Probably harder to inlet than walnut but should wear very well.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    One of the best allaround woods to smoke meats with too !

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by telebasher View Post
    One of the best allaround woods to smoke meats with too !
    Oh I know this for sure!

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  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy knifemaker's Avatar
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    Make sure your slab is heartwood and not sapwood and you want the moisture content around 6%. Drying for 4 years in your shop should have the wood dry enough to make a gun stock that will not warp if you seal it good after finishing the stock.

  7. #7
    It should be very strong and resilient, but there is a quality that is hard to assess when you simply have a piece of it.

    There is a very good article on unconventional stock woods in "The NRA Gunsmithing Guide Updated". (It is an excellent book, updated unfortunately only up t the early 80s or thereabouts, but the woods haven't changed. It includes an index of expansion in different degrees of humidity between green and 6% moisture content. Quite a few woods, mostly with disadvantages for at least some applications, score worse than walnut.

    Obviously it isn't going to become green again, but I imagine the difference between different degrees of atmospheric humidity might be related to this. It might be worth cutting, smoothing and precisely measuring a couple of small samples, and seeing if the measurement changes in a week or two adjacent to a heating radiator and the kitchen sink.

    If the colour is light, it might repay extra care to make sure you don't accidentally include some sapwood. It might also, like oak, split easily if you exert levering force on an embedded tool, despite being very strong when the job is done.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by telebasher View Post
    One of the best allaround woods to smoke meats with too !
    You got that right! The finest.
    It ain't rocket science, it's boolit science.

  9. #9
    Boolit Buddy
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    As one who uses Hickory to build longbows, I can tell you that splitting is not one of the problems you’re likely To have with hickory! Hickory is one of the hardest to break the woods in the lumberyard where Bow building is concerned.

  10. #10
    Boolit Buddy
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    Sorry, not thinking clearly. Pecan, by extension, being a relative of Hickory, should have the same properties.

  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy knifemaker's Avatar
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    Texas just about any wood used for gunstocks will shrink or swell due to amount of moisture in the air, or being out in a rainstorm. I have made many rifle stocks over the years and do not have a problem with the stocks warping due to absorbing moisture. I prefer a Tru-oil finish on my stocks and the outer surface will get about 8-10 coats with the first 2-3 coats going on heavy to soak into the wood.
    I also apply several coats in the barrel channel, magazine box & trigger cutout and even at the butt under the recoil pad. Seals the rifle up very well. If you have a slab of pecan that has the brown wood with dark, almost black streaks, you will have one very beautiful gun stock. Another beautiful wood that many do not think about using for gun stocks is Mesquite. My son has two Weatherby rifles that have custom mesquite stocks and they are very beautiful in color and very dense wood.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    I have used pecan for several woodworking projects but not gun stocks, pecan is sometimes used for that purpose on cheaper guns. Those who have said it is similar to hickory are right, it's not quite as hard as hickory but very similar in almost every other way including color. Here is my opinion on using it for a gun stock, factory production using automated machinery it will produce a bland but very tough utility grade stock and may be OK for that but hand carving a stock from it???? It's not all that difficult to work but it is harder than common stock wood such as the various walnut woods and I would think it to be about the same as using Maple as far as hardness. The real question would be "why"? For all the time and effort you will be rewarded with a bland so-so looking stock that will be utility grade at best, a plain straight grain piece of walnut (for example) would be easier to work and a heck of a lot more attractive! Just having the pecan on hand is little reason to go to all that effort for such a plain looking stock unless you just want to practice stock making but there are much better woods for that.
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  13. #13
    Boolit Master Dan Cash's Avatar
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    I agree with old red. A hickory/pecan stock will give you a heavy club with all the beauty of an axe handle that has (maybe) some figure. Hickory/pecan is hard on tool edges and difficult to work with a tendency to tear when carved.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    Thank you all. I thought it would be cool to have a stock from it since my family's been here more than a century but I don't want a hard to carve ugly stock.


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  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy bdicki's Avatar
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    If it looks anything like this I would say go for it.

  16. #16
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    Hicory (Pignut) is Juglandaceae Carya glabra with a density of 52lb/sqft. Shrinkage: Radial: 7.2%, Tangential: 11.5%, Volumetric: 17.9%, T/R Ratio: 1.6
    Pecan is Juglandaceae Carya illinoensis with a density of 46lb/sqft. Shrinkage: Radial: 4.9%, Tangential: 8.9%, Volumetric: 13.6%, T/R Ratio: 1.8
    Black walnut is Juglandaceae Juglans nigra with a density of 38lb/sqft. Shrinkage: Radial: 5.5%, Tangential: 7.8%, Volumetric: 12.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.4
    English walnut is Juglandaceae Juglans regia with a density of 40lb/sqft. Shrinkage: Radial: 5.5%, Tangential: 7.5%, Volumetric: 13.0%, T/R Ratio: 1.4

    Pecan, hickory, and walnut are all in the same family but in walnut is a different genus. Pecan will work like hickory with a bit less weight. It will be prone to burning and tear out but if your tools are sharp it should make a nice if slightly heavy stock. The tangential shrinkage is a bit high so be sure to seal the stock well.

    For reference: http://www.wood-database.com/pecan/

  17. #17
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    Texas by God,

    Texas pecan tends to make just two sorts of firearms stocks: Really "Plain Jane" & "Downright PURTY". = A custom smith out from Ennis has made any number of GEORGIOUS custom rifles using pecan, that was cut on his family farm at Cumby, TX.
    (I cannot afford his custom-made hunting rifles!!!!)

    ADDENDA: I asked the smith about his Texas Premier Rifles & he finally said, "They start at just over 10K & go up from there." - Like I said, I cannot afford any.

    Wishing that I had a BIG pecan that I could afford to cut down on our family farm but we SELL our pecans, when we get a good crop. = When I lived on the place years ago, I often sold 700-800 pounds of shelled pecans each year at Canton's First Monday.
    (You wouldn't believe what Alaskans will pay by the pound for shelled pecans. = An old school chum of mine is a home missionary up there & always wants me to ship all the pecans that we are willing to ship him for resale.)

    yours, tex
    Last edited by texasnative46; 04-15-2018 at 08:50 PM. Reason: add

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    The cool factor of having a stock from a tree that came from your own place is priceless! I'd do it in a heartbeat.

  19. #19
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    ShooterAZ,

    AGREED 100%.

    yours, tex

  20. #20
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    On my .22 bolt action to shoot squirrels out of pecan trees...........
    I'll take some pics of the blanks.
    Tex, what caliper trunk are you seeking?

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