American hickory is a hardwood that is native to the eastern States of the USA. Its main commercial areas are the central and southern States. It is considered to be one of the most important trees of the eastern forests, due to its combination of strength, toughness, hardness, and stiffness.
The hickories are split into two botanical groups – the true hickories and the pecan (fruit-bearing) hickories. However, the wood of both groups is almost identical and is usually sold together. Sapwood is white with a brownish tinge; heartwood is a pale to reddish brown. The texture is coarse and usually with a straight grain, however it can be wavy or irregular. Bird pecks and mineral streaks are common characteristics of the timber and are not considered to be defects.
American hickory timber is quite difficult to work with hand tools or to machine and glue. It takes nails and screws well but care must be taken as it has a tendency to split. Pre-boring is recommended. The timber sands and polishes to an attractive finish.
American hickory is most commonly used in tool handles, drumsticks, furniture, flooring, cabinetry, ladders, dowels, and sporting goods. It is increasingly exported from the US as flooring, given its rustic appearance and naturally occurring hardwearing properties.
Sawn American hickory timber is readily commercially available throughout the central and southern States of the US but is yet to be imported into Australia in any significant quantities. Supplies are more limited if the timber is selected for its color and sold as red or white hickory or pecan.
In Australia, American hickory is largely available as drumsticks, for which purpose it is considered the premium timber, or through special order for custom furniture or DIY. The pecan hickory is grown in Australia for its fruit.
Botanical Name: Carya glabra
Preferred Common Name: Hickory, American
Species Type: Hardwood
The American hickory has sapwood of white tinged with brown and heartwood of pale to reddish brown. Its grain is usually straight but can be wavy or irregular on occasion. The wood is coarse in texture with bird pecks and mineral streaks a common occurrence that is not considered to impact on the quality of the timber.
The most common applications for American hickory are tool handles, cabinetry, furniture, flooring, wooden ladders, drumsticks, and sporting goods.
Working with American hickory requires some care, as it is difficult to machine and glue. While it takes nails and screws well, it has a tendency to split so pre-boring is recommended. It has good strength and shock resistance, and good steam-bending properties. It sands and polishes well. It has a high shrinkage value and can be difficult to dry; this can affect the timber’s stability in conditions with variable moisture.