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Hickory - Carbide tooling required?

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Forum topic by William Shelley posted 06-21-2014 11:12 PM 678 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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William Shelley

103 posts in 159 days


06-21-2014 11:12 PM

I’m working with hickory for the first time and it seems that my shop is not appropriately equipped to work this species. I’ve got some 4/4 stuff, not sure of the exact species of hickory (I have read that there are quite a few subspecies with different properties), but it was quite cheap and I picked up this board when I was at the local hardwood dealer because I figured it might be good for making jigs with since it is so stiff.

It’s fairly warped so it definitely needs to be jointed. My jointer is a tiny Grizzly benchtop model with 6” cutting capacity and two high-speed steel straight knives. I ripped a piece about 3” wide x 22” long to face joint and I have to feed extremely slow or else there is a huge amount of chatter. I get the feeling that either A) my knives aren’t sharp or set right, or B) a spiral cutterhead with carbide knives would handle this wood better.

Is this one of those times where I should build a jig to flatten the pieces with a router or something?

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective


10 replies so far

View gfadvm's profile

gfadvm

11242 posts in 1380 days


#1 posted 06-22-2014 12:39 AM

I have planed and jointed hickory with HSS knives with no problems at all. Have also used a card scraper made from an old saw blade with no problems. I suspect either your jointer knives are dull or you are taking too deep a cut.

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

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johnstoneb

731 posts in 863 days


#2 posted 06-22-2014 01:26 AM

Sharpen your knives. Hickory is hard. The little bit I have worked with it it seems to chip or tear out easily so you need shorp tools to work it.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View English's profile

English

241 posts in 167 days


#3 posted 06-22-2014 01:39 AM

I built a complete set of kitchen cabinets from hickory, 300 bft. I had to replace the blades on my dewalt 735 planer twice and on my table saw blade once durning the build. It tears out very baddly on the router table. I had a lot of scrap from the router table. End results is I have a beautiful kitchen

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View TiggerWood's profile

TiggerWood

197 posts in 296 days


#4 posted 06-22-2014 01:47 AM

“I built a complete set of kitchen cabinets from hickory, 300 bft. I had to replace the blades on my dewalt 735 planer twice and on my table saw blade once durning the build. It tears out very baddly on the router table. I had a lot of scrap from the router table. End results is I have a beautiful kitchen
- English

And this is why I like working with Hickory. Absolutely beautiful.

I don’t use machines to square my wood (I would if I could afford them). When planing Hickory, if it was impossible one direction, I would turn the board 180 degrees. I’m guessing this usually doesn’t apply with machines but Hickory is one of the hardest woods we will ever work with. Hard enough that if the grain is flowing against the blades of even a machine….

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William Shelley

103 posts in 159 days


#5 posted 06-22-2014 02:21 AM

I adjusted my jointer knives and got a bit better results but I have to take such light passes it will take a while to flatten these pieces out. I was considering just building a ‘jointing sled’ for my tablesaw but I don’t want to start on another project in the middle of one that is already behind. The end result (20” bandsaw wheels) will require a lot of manual adjustment anyway for balance that I suppose getting a 22” long board perfectly dead flat and straight isn’t a big deal.

@John – I am only running a few board feet but that’s a little scary what it did to your poor 735. Part of me wants to see how well my 735 handles the twisted grain in some of the pieces I have, the other part of me doesn’t want to replace knives :P

If I was doing a whole kitchen I would use that project as a justification for upgrading to carbide helical cutterheads on planer and jointer.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View English's profile

English

241 posts in 167 days


#6 posted 06-22-2014 12:43 PM

You have to have infinate patients when working with hickory, very small cuts, lots of passes. I did have to purchase a drum sander durning that project, hand sanding the doors to 320 grit with a random orbital sander was taking 5 hours a door.

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

View Rick  Dennington's profile

Rick Dennington

3474 posts in 1884 days


#7 posted 06-22-2014 02:51 PM

Hickory….....Makes good firewood….........!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

-- " I started with nothing, and I've still got most of it left".......

View William Shelley's profile

William Shelley

103 posts in 159 days


#8 posted 06-22-2014 08:19 PM

Well I got my stock surfaced but it wasn’t fun. lots of tearout because the grain of the hickory I have changes in the middle of most of the boards. This would have been a lot easier if I was in my dad’s shop—I’m sure his 25HP, 37” wide belt sander would have been able to hog down hickory with ease.

On the other hand, all the maple I ran through at the same time came out looking great, even some pieces that had a lot of twisted grain.

Hickory is just a bully, I don’t think I’ll let it around my current batch of tools again.

-- Woodworking from an engineer's perspective

View DLCW's profile

DLCW

527 posts in 1344 days


#9 posted 06-26-2014 01:59 AM

Hickory is a tough wood to work with. It dulls cutting edges (even carbide) very quickly. It splinters horribly, even with super sharp tools.

I just did three large projects (kitchen, dining room set, island countertop) with rustic hickory and went through 5 8” jointer knife sharpenings and 3 sets of Dewalt planer knives. I also had to sharpen my shaper cutters a 3 times. Personally I hate to work with the stuff, but I have customers that love it. When done right rustic hickory, when finished, is beautiful. Most of the time I do finish thincknessing with my wide belt sander. Removes all the chip out from the jointer and planer. More time consuming though..

I do charge for all the blades and sharpenings in the project.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - http://www.dlwoodworks.com - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View RogerM's profile

RogerM

451 posts in 1089 days


#10 posted 06-27-2014 01:55 PM

Without question, it sounds like your knives are very dull. They need to be sharp for hickory but they do not have to be carbide.

-- Roger M, Aiken, SC

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