Spend some time with wood and you come to know it like you know your best friends—its quirks and personality, its failings and its strengths. I just completed a kitchen cabinet for Cousin Loretta that was made from hickory. Over the course of weeks I got to know Ol’ Hickory pretty well. Hickory is a beautiful, hard, wood. It is considerably harder than white oak or maple (Janka 1820 vs 1350-1400). Did I mention it is hard? I think people discovered fire when they tried to drill a hole in a piece of hickory. Router bits, drill bits, saw blades—hickory laughs at them and spits them out in a thin cloud of acrid smoke. This may also be where people learned to smoke meat with hickory—after running boards through the planer the shop smelled like a barbecue. Hickory’s stiffness and hardness lead to tearout if you even look at the grain backwards. This may all sound like criticism but it is simply the facts. You learn the facts about your friends so you can get along with them and enjoy the relationship. This cabinet is never going to fail, the wood won’t scratch or dent or wear with daily use, and the character of the grain (even with a bit of tearout around the knots) will whisper to Wayne and Loretta about the Midwestern forest where the tree grew.