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Finishes for Hickory

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Forum topic by drcodfish posted 03-27-2016 04:02 PM 778 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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drcodfish

124 posts in 525 days


03-27-2016 04:02 PM

I have been making boxes recently, western hemlock and QS White oak. I have a nice hickory board I’d like to use next and need a little advice. I have zero experience with this wood, from all outward appearances it seems to be similar to oak. Any advice on finishes would be appreciated. I don’t have any preconceived notions; a light, medium or darker finish are all acceptable to me.

Would ammonia fuming have an effect similar to oak?

My last couple projects:

The hemlock box

and an oak box:

-- Dr C


19 replies so far

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joey502

493 posts in 1091 days


#1 posted 03-27-2016 04:58 PM

If you stain, dye or color the hickory would depend on the look you are going for. If going for the natural look i would stay away from oils. Hickory yellows terribly when oil is applied on raw wood.

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Fred Hargis

4259 posts in 2066 days


#2 posted 03-27-2016 10:02 PM

I believe the oak darkens with the ammonia fumes due to the tannins in the wood…and I think they are not present in hickory. I’m surprised to hear you say that “from all outward appearances it seems to be similar to oak”, to my eyes they are distinctly different. Personally I like the look of hickory as it is (don’t much like trying to machine it, though). so I’ve never colored it.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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drcodfish

124 posts in 525 days


#3 posted 03-28-2016 12:23 AM

Joey:
Thanks for the insight, the kind of information I’m looking for. So are you thinking a clear poly finish or something like that? This board has some heart and sap wood so there is some color variation which I like.

Fred:
Didn’t mean to say they are the same, but they look similar to me. Sort of like different varieties of pine are similar. And too, I only have this one board to look at so perhaps I have something a little out of the norm. I’m in WA State and we don’t see this wood out here unless we go looking for it. My first experience so thought I would ask for advice before I start hacking up this pretty board.

-- Dr C

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joey502

493 posts in 1091 days


#4 posted 03-28-2016 01:03 AM

“regular” poly is oil based and will have the same yellowing effect on light colored woods. To keep the natural look and color of the wood I would use either clear shellac or lacquer. Waterborne poly would also work well but the shellac and lacquer can be recoated in minutes and don’t have the plastic look to them that built up poly does.

I suppose if you plan to color the wood then the yellowing is not as much of an issue.

That board you posted does not look like hickory to me. Hickory does not have such an open grain as the board in your pics. The amount of light makes it hard to tell the color but that board does look like oak to me.

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gfadvm

14940 posts in 2263 days


#5 posted 03-28-2016 01:34 AM

You are in a different part of the country from me but I have never seen hickory that looks like your pics.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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drcodfish

124 posts in 525 days


#6 posted 03-28-2016 03:09 AM

My apologies, I think this is an oak board.

-- Dr C

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gfadvm

14940 posts in 2263 days


#7 posted 03-28-2016 01:05 PM

No apology needed. That’s what this site is all about: learning and helping other woodworkers.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

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splintergroup

1056 posts in 795 days


#8 posted 03-28-2016 03:00 PM

Could that board be Ash (if not oak)?

Anyway, Hickory is very dense, and stains don’t penetrate very well. Best bet for coloring is to use a dye.

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DirtyMike

587 posts in 475 days


#9 posted 03-28-2016 03:43 PM

that board looks like ash to these eyes.

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dalepage

175 posts in 414 days


#10 posted 03-28-2016 09:04 PM

I’ve used hickory several times in boxes, both for the sides and for panels in the lids. Since the hickory log was spalted, I use it sparingly. It is exactly the yellow color mentioned above that I like about it. In spalted wood, the black lines contrast nicely with the yellowed wood when I use boiled linseed oil. I oil just about everything and never stained anything. Instead of splotched cherry, I get instant deep red.

Having said this, I find hickory so dense that I don’t like to use it when something else will do. It burns easily, even with sharp, high quality blades like Forrest or Freud.

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English

523 posts in 1050 days


#11 posted 03-28-2016 11:58 PM

I love to use both the sap wood and heart wood in the same project. The contrast is beautiful. I finish it natural. Just clear gloss poly.

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

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drcodfish

124 posts in 525 days


#12 posted 03-30-2016 01:53 AM

So I took a little time off work and went to the only hardware store within 45 miles that sells ‘exotic’ lumber. It’s a nice little place I’ve bought wood there before. They happened to have a nice wide 10’ hickory board which they were willing to sell me a 6’ piece of.

So here are the comparisons:

board on the right: Hickory, board on the left: Mystery

Hickory

Mystery

It’s obvious to me now that those of you who know this wood could see that it wasn’t hickory, thanks for setting me straight.

-- Dr C

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shampeon

1771 posts in 1756 days


#13 posted 03-30-2016 02:03 AM

Yeah, that mystery wood is red oak.

-- ian | "You can't stop what's coming. It ain't all waiting on you. That's vanity."

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Fred Hargis

4259 posts in 2066 days


#14 posted 03-30-2016 10:56 AM



Yeah, that mystery wood is red oak.

- shampeon


That would be my guess as well.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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splintergroup

1056 posts in 795 days


#15 posted 03-30-2016 01:57 PM


That would be my guess as well.

- Fred Hargis

Ditto!

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