Shagbark hickory characteristics

September 6, 2000

I was wondering if anyone out there has a lot of experience working with shagbark hickory? I am going to build a set of cabinets out of some, and want to know if there are any special problems with hickory. What kind of nail gun should I use?

Hickory is very hard. It also has a tendency to split when machining with the grain, particularly when shaping door stiles and profiles. You can also have some problems with tear-out when you shape the raised panels. It's just a fact of life; deal with it and price accordingly.

If you have feeders on your shapers, climb cutting is something you may want to consider. (DO NOT ATTEMPT CLIMB CUTTING WITHOUT A FEEDER.)Other than that, make sure all tooling is sharp. We don't usually do anything different with hickory.

As far as a nail gun, is there any brand besides Senco?
Brian Personett, Forum Moderator

Just an added note: Hickory lumber includes four species of hickory and four species of pecan. The pecan species are weaker and slightly lighter in weight.

We experience less tearout with pecan than hickory.

I have a done quite a bit of hickory work and have learned a few tricks along the way: If you are running a lot of screws into it, buy screws with a cutter on the tip, and use a Makita cordless impact screwdriver, they are wonderful and save a lot of broken screw heads.

You can also try routing it backwards but BE CAREFUL! It will reduce tear-out, but can throw the piece of wood.

And yes, there is another brand of nailer besides Senco, it's called Fastco, and is well worth the extra money you'll pay up front.