What Is Hickory Wood Used For?

Last Updated on October 24, 2021 by Liam Bronson

Raw Hickory wood lumber

A hickory tree is a type of tree that produces hickory nuts. This tree produces hickory wood that is considered a hardwood. Hickory trees typically grow in the eastern part of the United States. The central, southern, and northern parts have different climates in which at least twenty species have already adapted to their climates. Lately, hickory woods have gained popularity because of their notable sapwood colored in cream, which perfectly complements the dark-red colored duramen of the hickory woods. Duramen is also called heartwood or central wood of trees.

In North America, hickory woods are considered valuable and well-known hardwood in their region. The eastern part of the United States has hardwood forests in which you can commonly find these expensive hickory trees. Before the composite materials were considered the industry standard, hickory woods were heavily utilized to manufacture tennis rackets, skis, golf club shafts, bats, and other sports items requiring durable materials. Due to hickory woods’ weight and extreme durability, a wide variety of tool handles are created from hickory woods.

Hickory Wood Characteristics

If you want to create cabinets, hardwood flooring, or any other furniture type that requires durability, hickory woods are one of the best types of wood for this job. Hickory woods are proven and tested to have extreme durability and long-lasting economic life, making them the ideal material for such uses. Nowadays, designers are fond of using hickory woods as their material for their masterpiece.

The complimentary light shades of its sapwood and the dark shades of its heartwood give it the attractive appearance that many describe as “calico”. The hickory board with differing amounts on each side of sapwood and heartwood is often described as calico. Calico gives such an aesthetic and distinctive appearance on your household design which makes it in demand on the market.

You will not end up disappointed if you will use hickory wood for your next woodworking project. To achieve the aesthetic image that you want, you should look for a calico-quality product. It might be more expensive, but the catchy appearance of it will surely satisfy your art standard.

Major Uses of Hickory Woods

As a dry wood, hickory quickly absorbs dyes and adhesives and finishes to a glossy texture. Due to its extreme durability and eye-catching textures, you can find that cabinets, sports items, hardwood flooring, tool handle, and other home decorations are now usually made out of hickory woods. 

Home Furniture

In the past, hickory woods were not ideal for making hardwood flooring, cabinets, and other home furniture due to the difference in the color of its sapwood and heartwood. However, during the late 1990s and beyond, it was found out that the contrasting color of its sapwood and heartwood gives an aesthetic and rustic touch to your home interior. The positive impact of the unique appearance of the contrasting color of heartwood and sapwood made the hickory woods in demand. Now, woodworkers and manufacturers hold great value for hickory woods. Because of this, both small and big woodworking enterprises continue to increase their demand for hickory woods. This is the main reason why the price for hickory woods has exponentially increased over the years.

Nowadays, it is not surprising to realize that the kitchen cabinets are mostly made out of hickory woods. Cabinets made from hickory woods have a rustic appearance and durable materials. They do not break easily compared to other cabinets made from another type of wood. If you want a durable and rustic kitchen, then hickory woods would be the perfect material to build your kitchen cabinet and flooring.

Hickory wood is used in a unique way in Indiana’s ‘Old Hickory Furniture’ style. Old Hickory continues to be popular because the items are comfortable, durable, and have a rustic design. The chairs are handmade in Indiana, as they have always been for more than a century.

Tool Handles

Shovels, hammers, axes, and other types of tool handles are usually made of hickory woods. The hardness and durability of hickory woods make it the ideal material to create tool handles even in extreme activities. The wooden handles made out of hickory woods are proven to be strong and will not break easily. It would definitely be easier for you to use this tool. If you use a hammer, the wooden handle will absorb most of the shock, and it would mean lesser impact to your hand while hammering. Indeed, hickory woods are the ideal tool to create comfortable and durable tool handles.

Firewoods and Flavoring?

Knowing the fact that hickory woods are expensive, this may sound ridiculous, but hickory woods were actually used as firewood in the past. The aroma it releases when used as firewood actually adds up to the taste and smell of the meat you cook through it. But since the price for hickory woods exponentially increased, most producers are now using other cooking processes and flavorings to produce the taste the customers are looking for. There are still a small group of meat suppliers left who are still doing the traditional way of smoking meat through hickory woods. You can even find hickory chips for barbecue grills and other hickory products in a lot of local and online stores.


There are difficulties that you can face with hickory woods. The carbide-edged of power tools and the sharpness of hand tools should always be maintained. The cutting speed should be adjusted to keep the safety of the woodworking process and to avoid burning. It is recommended to make the speed slow when drilling to avoid damages. You should conduct pre-drilling for screws to prevent the hickory woods from splitting. Exercise caution when using clamp pressure as it may cause a glue starved joint.

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