Tips for Sawing Hickory

Quick tips on getting good lumber from Hickory logs. November 8, 2007

I've just been given a 55' hickory trunk brought down by a windstorm. I'm not sure of the exact species, here in central North Carolina. Trunk diameter starts at 23" at 20' up it's 19", so lots of board feet should come from the log. What is the best way to saw this species (plain, quarter, etc)? This is my first try sawing and drying hickory.

Forum Responses
(Sawing and Drying Forum)
From contributor A:
For the most part it is best flat sawn by the grade rules. Only shagbark hickory has any real qsawn ray flake. You will only want to take one or two cuts per face before turning the log, as it will often have stress. It is a hard wood to saw and a sharp blade with 10 degree or less hook will cut it best.

It is prone to sticker stain, so dry stickers work best. I often lean the boards up against the saw building out of the sun for a few days before stickering. This helps by removing the surface moisture some and cuts down on sticker stain. Bugs love hickory and it will stain and get infested quickly this time of year. Remove all bark from boards not edged completely.

From contributor D:
I would add that I've found the best way to cut good (non-wavy) lumber from hickory is to use 4 degree bands, with lots of lube (water) and a slow to medium feed rate, paying attention to knots within the log. I've had fair luck getting good lumber with 9 and 10 degree bands, but by far and away the easiest way I've found is to use 4 degree bands.

From the original questioner:
My bands are Wood-Mizer 10 degree, so I'll have to use them and see what happens on the first few cuts. I don't sharpen or set my bands, so I don't have a way to reduce the tooth angle. I begin cutting with a new blade too.

I always use dry stickers on all my stack piles. Thanks for the turning/stress tip. Is there a good chemical treatment I can spray coat the wood with that prevents insects from attacking? I'll make sure there is no bark edging left on boards too.

From contributor U:
I've applied a water solution of boric acid to lumber to keep off bugs. It probably won't help if they're already in there, but it should keep new ones out. Also, it's non-toxic, long lasting, and cheap.