Rustic Hickory Lumber Adds Character.

Hickory is prized for its characteristic color variation and vibrant grain patterns. Rustic hickory takes those properties and turns up the volume with color variations that are even more dramatic, from nearly white to dark brown, and swirling grain patterns more bold than those seen in regular hickory. Knots, burls, and mineral streaks also come with the package, adding extra challenges but also tons of character.

Rustic hickory’s primitive good looks and hard-wearing properties are causing it to grow in popularity as a choice for hardwood flooring, cabinetry, and furniture. Hickory is the second hardest hardwood species in North America. The durability and sturdiness of hickory cabinets and hardwood flooring makes rustic hickory a good choice for home and commercial projects. The strength and moisture-resistance of rustic hickory also lend it to use in areas like kitchens, laundry rooms, and high-traffic areas. Rustic hickory is a beautiful choice for furniture projects that will stand out with show-stopping color variation, grain patterns, and character-adding knots and marks.

Woodworkers will sometimes air dry hickory at home, but kiln drying is a better option for this refractory species. Air drying hickory in hot, dry summer months can cause hickory boards to dry unevenly, with the outer shell shrinking faster than the inner core, leading to excessive checking. It can also cause discoloration. Learn more about air drying vs. kiln drying here. All hickory sold at AHC Hardwood is properly dried in a kiln.

Hickory, the heaviest and second hardest of American hardwoods, deserves its reputation as a difficult species to work. Some have compared the experience to hammering nails into cast iron. Hickory is 41% harder than red oak, so it is extremely strong and tough. Carbide-tipped saw blades are recommended for cutting hickory, as it is difficult to work with normal saw blades and hand tools. Just like regular hickory, rustic hickory holds nails and screws well, but pre-drilling is required to prevent splitting.

Rustic hickory will have more knots to work around than higher grades of hickory. As long as knots are centered in an appropriately wide board, they should not cause problems. Avoid placing knots on the edge of a cut, where they can cause the board to kink, or in slender pieces, such as delicate table legs.

Knots can be filled with epoxy to create a smooth surface without covering up the wood’s character. Light stains will show off rustic hickory to its best advantage, highlighting its intense color changes. Rustic hickory is sometimes glazed to make it look older and more primitive.

Rustic hickory is a good choice for projects that benefit from the strength and durability of hickory and the “wow factor” imbued by its incredible character.

Read more about hickory here.