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Hickory and Pecan are virtually indistinguishable species within the Walnut family of trees. The appearance of Hickory/Pecan sapwood is white, and quite often tinged with brown. The heartwood ranges in color from pale brown, to brown with red tinges. The heartwood occasionally takes on deeper reddish-brown tones, and is referred to as “red” Hickory. Both the sapwood and heartwood are course in texture, usually with a fine, straight grain.
Formal Name: Carya Spp
Hickory/Pecan is primarily an American wood, with growth concentration throughout the eastern Atlantic states, including Georgia, Tennessee, and the Carolinas in the South, continuing up through areas of southeastern Canada. Although not an abundant species, Hickory is readily available.
Hickory is the hardest, heaviest and strongest American wood. Known for strength and shock resistance, true Hickories are stronger than Pecan. The heaviness of Hickory/Pecan can make it difficult to machine and glue, and much more difficult than average to work with hand tools. It’s strength and nail-holding ability make it a popular, hardy wood. Although Hickory/Pecan holds nails and screws well, pre-boring is recommended to prevent splitting. The wood sands well and offers a handsome appearance with medium to darker stains and bleaching.
A popular use of Hickory is as chips in smokers and barbecues to flavor meat. It’s resilience and strength makes it an excellent choice for tool handles and wooden ladders. More decorative uses include furniture, paneling, flooring and cabinets.