Color & Oxidation of Wood

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Forum topic by CSmithWoodturnings posted 10-09-2014 03:45 AM 2173 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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24 posts in 2793 days

10-09-2014 03:45 AM

Topic tags/keywords: wood woodworking woodcraft woodturning bowl bowls

So I have been watching a lot of videos of other woodturners bowls on youtube, and I’ve noticed something interesting. The pecan bowls I’ve turned were from a tree cut down about a year ago, and the wood is a light color. I assumed this was normal, but every other bowl I’ve seen people turn on youtube, pecan has been a dark brown color.

I know that oxidation and direct sunlight over time causes certain woods to darken, but is this why their pecan bowls are darker. I’m not even talking about a shade darker that could be caused from the oil finishes. Even when they are rough turning them, they are a dark brown. Does anyone have any knowledge on this topic?

9 replies so far

View LiveEdge's profile


600 posts in 3075 days

#1 posted 10-09-2014 05:25 AM

Heartwood vs. Sapwood.

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4497 days

#2 posted 10-09-2014 05:32 AM

I have never had any of my Pecan turn dark even sap or heart, I don’t do any turning but have used it on other projects. I have used pecan straight out of the orchards from here in town. Would be interesting to see if anyone else has had this issue.

View cax's profile


12 posts in 2796 days

#3 posted 10-09-2014 09:04 AM

i dont know about that.

View WDHLT15's profile


1819 posts in 3931 days

#4 posted 10-09-2014 11:57 AM

Yes, heartwood. It takes a pretty long time for pecan to develop that dark brown heartwood. Here is a bench that I just made that shows the sapwood and heartwood contrast. Sometimes there are swirls of darker brown in the lighter brown. That is especially beautiful.

-- Danny Located in Perry, GA. Forester. Wood-Mizer LT40HD35 Sawmill. Nyle L53 Dehumidification Kiln.

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4497 days

#5 posted 10-09-2014 05:26 PM

Nice piece Danny, definitely a bit darker, Certainly not really dark more of a tan. Most of the stuff I have is either near off white to light tan. I guess I was figuring the OP was talking darker, more like a mesquite or dark walnut. Certainly the heart wood will be darker.

View bold1's profile


371 posts in 3302 days

#6 posted 10-09-2014 10:19 PM

CS it may have been heartwood that was steamed for a longer time in the kiln. Steaming tends to darken the color. I know some people will tell you the opposite, because when you steam, the grain opens more and it looks lighter fresh out of the kiln. But it’s one of the ways we used to darken lumber when I was drying for Wood-Mode Inc.

View Yonak's profile


986 posts in 2976 days

#7 posted 10-09-2014 10:47 PM

I bought several hundred board feet of pecan from a guy in Georgia some years ago that was pretty light colored. For a very long time I assumed pecan was a light colored wood, then I saw a cabinet someone posted, made of pecan, that was quite dark and had a pronounced grain. Unfortunately, I can’t find that post now.

It seems to me that if it was a difference between heartwood and sapwood I would have gotten some heartwood in the wood I got. I suspect, as with other trees. such as poplar and maple, it may depend on where the tree grew.

Here’s a specimen a few shades darker than the color of pecan I have :

Here’s an example I found where the heartwood is lighter than the sapwood :

Here’s a bed that was made from pecan (not mine) with a different grain :

This may or not be stained.

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24 posts in 2793 days

#8 posted 10-10-2014 02:58 AM

Yes the pecan I’ve had is definitely lighter than those. I believe I have some pecan bowls in my projects for reference to the color I am talking about.

View Woodknack's profile


13593 posts in 3835 days

#9 posted 10-10-2014 06:08 AM

I’ve never used pecan but curious I googled “pecan wood” and there were a variety of colors from creamy light tan to dark brown. Now I want some pecan to turn. I’ve had maple where the heartwood at the base of the tree was medium brown while heartwood higher up was normal light tan.

-- Rick M,

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