It all began back in 2009 when a neighbor was having a pecan tree taken down. I came over to watch the arborist at work, and I asked if I could have part of the trunk. He kindly dropped a 5-foot section in my front yard. My family was amused.
I immediately set to work trying to split the log into billets.
Before I got very far, I threw out my back while working on it. I painted the ends with some latex paint I had on hand and hoped I could get back to it soon. The log sat in the yard for several months before I managed to split it into eight big pieces and drag them into the shed to keep out of the weather.
It was nearly a year before I was able to cut one or two up on my little bandsaw. When I did, though, I found that much of the sapwood had spalted beautifully. (The red stuff on the ends is wax to seal the ends and prevent checking–I salvaged the wax from the remnants of an old pillar candle.) The darker, harder heartwood does not spalt.
It has now been four and a half years since the log came to me. Since then, I’ve been cutting it up slowly, and I have made quite a few items–mostly tools and tool parts–from my stash of spalted pecan.
To answer two common questions up front: No, this spalting doesn’t significantly weaken the wood. Pecan is very strong anyway, and when it does rot, it’s obvious. And no, the spalting is not dangerous or allergenic. The fungus that causes spalted figure dies as the wood dries out, and by the time I’m building anything with the wood, the organism is long dead.
Here are a few items I’ve made with spalted pecan.
Scratch stocks. The gauge-style stock on the left is pecan and cherry.
A number of marking gauges. The ones in the middle have since migrated to other homes.
Chisel handles. Pecan is an ideal chisel handle anyway, being hard and quite difficult to split. The spalting gives it a unique character.
I made a few mallets out of the wood, but this was my favorite. It has also since been sent to a good home.
A turning saw made with the kit from Tools for Working Wood.
A stair saw. The metal components are a kit from my friend Dominic at TGIAG Toolworks.
And, of course, a pecan-and-cherry tool chest to put them all into.
I’m nearly half way through my stash of spalted pecan now, but I should still have lots more to use for several years to come.