Hickory Lumber Guide: Characteristics, Pricing, and More

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Looking for good lumber as the framework for your next wood project can be challenging. While many wood species are available today, hickory lumber may be the perfect timber for your project. 

Hickory has earned its popularity in the woodworking community, and I totally get why. Let me break down its traits, pricing, and other details in this comprehensive guide.

Hickory Wood Characteristics at a Glance

What is Hickory?

This wood is acquired from the hickory tree–commonly found thriving in temperate rainforests. This lumber is popular among craftsmen for its unique characteristics. 

Hickory wood

The combination of strength and straight grain makes it a good choice among different types of lumber. It’s also popular due to its thick, dense, and resistance to shock. This wood can be used in several products and projects, whether it involves applying stains in wet conditions.   

Appearance: Color and Odor

Generally, its colors range from reddish hue to reddish brown to white. But its sapwood has a darker color. 

Its sapwood, indigent to the temperate region, results to clear aging rings found in its trunk. There is no odor from this type of wood. 

Wood Texture and Grain Pattern

Hickory is a straight-grain wood, commonly linear and occasionally wavy, with a certain texture. Furthermore, hickory trees have growth rings that have pores in the earlywood and latewood portions found on each ring. 

Endgrain

The ring is porous with large pores found in the earlywood in an intermittent row. The wood is also characterized to have medium to small pores found in the latewood pores, with solitary and radial pores in multiples of 2-3. In fact, tyloses are common in this wood. 

Hickory grain pattern

This specie has parenchyma reticulate bands absent from the earlywood row for the true hickory group. However, these bands are present in the pecan hickory group. 

Workability and Mechanical Properties

In terms of workability, Hickory is particularly challenging to work with. Unlike walnut, hickory tends to fight back if your tools aren’t razor-sharp. You’re likely to face tear-out issues, and the cutting edges can dull quickly. But, hickory is popular for steam bending [1] So, it’s not all uphill with Hickory; you’ve got to know how to handle it.

Durability and Rot-Resistance

This lumber is known to be non-durable to perishable with regard to heartwood decay and is also highly susceptible to insect attack. If you’re planning to use it in areas prone to moisture or pests, you’ll have to take preventative measures.

Wood Toxicity

There are no health risks and reactions associated with Hickory timber other than the risks associated with its dust.  

Sustainability

This specie is not listed under the CITES Appendices or the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 

milling Hickory lumber

Related Tree Varieties and Species

Related tree varieties and species include the following:

Uses & Seasonings

The list of Hickory’s uses is long and varied. In my experience, it has a firm place in both commercial and residential projects. You’ll find Hickory in wheel spokes, flooring, tennis racquets, and even ladder rungs. Its unique characteristics make it adaptable for a range of applications.

Hickory dining room furniture

Hickory Pricing

You can easily gain access to hickory in the market. If you have permission to purchase Shagbark hickory, you can easily order it online and get it in the mail. Some wood can be on sale, so it is best to look for it. Take a look at the top places to buy lumber in this article!

Wood type

Thickness

Figure Type

Grade

Grain

Orientation

Length range

Width range

Estimated price per BF

4×4 

13/16”

Natural Hickory

#1COM or better

Straight grain

12’-16’

4” to 10”

5.99 USD

Images of Genuine Hickory

Here are some photographs to help you distinguish genuine Hickory visually.

Hickory
Hickory logs
milling Hickory
slab of Hickory wood

FAQ

Why hickory wood is popular?

Hickory wood is popular among craftsmen due to its unique combination of strength and rustic aesthetic. Also, hickory wood’s tight grain structure allows it to take on stains and finishes exceptionally well, providing versatility in achieving desired aesthetics.

Is hickory timber more durable than maple?

Hickory timber is more durable than maple due to its higher Janka hardness rating of 1820 over the latter’s 1420.

Conclusion

Trees are a goldmine, particularly if you’re into woodworking like I am. If you’re looking for a hardwood that can be sanded for a good finish, then hickory lumber might be suitable for your next construction task.

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Robert Johnson is a passionate furniture maker & carpenter, sought after for his knowledge on the craft.
You’ve probably seen his down-to-earth wisdom in USA Today, Bobvila, Family Handyman, and The Spruce, where he has shared commentary and guidance on various woodworking topics.

Robert is the brain behind Sawinery, where he aims to share tips, tricks, and a passion for all things carpentry.

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