Hickory from Tree to Chair

So far we have pics of both young and mature trees. Then the trailers that take them to a plant. Then drying in containers. Then sorted waiting to be called upon. Then used for planes, legs, arms, posts, rails or added decoration. Shaped, finished and assembled to make beautiful pieces of furniture. The U.S. Forest Service gives great detail on the Carya ovata hickory.

After the hickory nut germinates it becomes a seedling. By age 3 its taproot could reach nearly 3 feet down, while above ground could be less than 1 foot. A sapling becomes useful in furniture, making the arms and legs many chairs featured here. As it ages the hickory tree gets wider and taller, making great poles and planks seen in tables and bed frames here. By age 60 it can produce seeds itself, and can continue to do so for another couple hundred years.
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Once trees are harvested, they are shipped to the lumber yard or furniture maker. A manufacturer with their own kiln enjoys significant advantages over those that can only purchase prepared wood. The drying process requires an expertise similar to that of actual furniture-making : a master craftsman. Balancing numerous factors as the wood reacts, the kiln operator dries the wood over a week to a month. This takes out the moisture and the bore bug. (So if you ever see tiny piles of sawdust by the legs of your low-quality wood chair, that's a bug chewing its way out of your furniture.) A double-dose of kiln drying at 180 degrees ensures the hickory for your furniture is properly removed of moisture.

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After hickory has been chopped, gathered, cut to length, and kiln dried, it's time to start preparing the wood for use in individual pieces. They need de-knotted, eliminating knots that hamper the intended need of the stick. Then each stick gets cleaned - no, not with soap and water - rather sawed free of branch ends and any growth outside the radius and shape the furniture requires from the stick. Next comes sanding, seen on the belt sander below.

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The final finish desired for a furniture piece determines where the wood goes next. If the Natural Bark finish is selected, the stick is ready to be ready for assembly. If the Dakota finish is chosen, that requires sanding through one layer of bark, enabling the stain to adhere. For Tamarack or Black Forest finishes, a medium sanding is applied. The fully-sanded ultra-smooth Sonoma finish gives the lightest and cleanest look.

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The right tools are essential to get the wood in the shapes necessary to complete each type of furniture. Slice planes from vertical poles to create the smooth boards needed for table tops and seat bottoms. Carve tenons (shown above) to create mortise and tenon joints, making the furniture sturdy. Hand carve and sand detailed pieces that will be used as decorative add-ons. Then after you have made all the right shapes and sizes out of what used to be a hickory tree, assemble the furniture. Lastly, the spray room is where the piece is varnished or lacquered, giving it its final cover to ensure a fantastic appearance and usability for a lifetime. 

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