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Hickory’s stands out for its color and character


The hickory market enjoys stable prices and moderate demand, according to hardwood dealers interviewed by Woodshop News.

“Right now, we’re sitting on more FAS than rustic as far as what we have in stock. It’s not a huge mover,” says Scott Limone of Keiver-Willard Lumber in Newburyport, Mass. “My buyer was saying that a lot of mills are sawing less of it because they’re prioritizing other species to meet demand for things that have more value and are more expensive. I’d say as far as cost goes, it’s creeping up slowly, but not so much as other species.”

“A lot of hickory has been going into flooring,” says Chad Muterspaw of C.R. Muterspaw Lumber in Xenia, Ohio. “I think the only thing we’re doing differently is we’ve been color sorting it a lot more. We used to do a complete unselect for color, but right now we’re doing a lot of sorted for heartwood where they want it all brown, or occasionally white.

Hickory is a dense hardwood, often chosen for its dramatic, rustic appearance.

“When people are looking for hickory, usually they are looking for something a little more organic than an FAS lumber,” says Rick Hearne of Hearne Hardwoods in Oxford, Pa. “Hickory is not as refined or have a refined grain as some of the other domestics. It has the same grain pattern that red oak has, but it has a lot more variety of colors to it. Some people who come in for hickory are looking for all the light sapwood color, others are looking for the heartwood color.

“There are about seven different species of hickory that are generalized and put into one category, and it’s usually in the grade books denoted as hickory/pecan. We carry a little bit of hickory here for when somebody only needs a few board feet to do a project. It’s readily available if we need more. The part that we do specialize in is if they’re looking for true pecan, not the orchard tree, but bitternut wild pecan. It has a real lively heartwood color that looks actually more like a maple than an oak, and it can have some beautiful purples and reds in it.” 

This article was originally published in the February 2022 issue.

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