Hickory is one of the hardest of the commonly available North American hardwoods and as such it makes for an excellent turning wood.
I have worked with Hickory before and I have had great experiences so I was looking forward to working with this piece. I did experience extensive cross-grain tear-out issues with this piece which I found a bit surprising and I had a difficult time removing it through dedicated sanding even after many careful light passes with an extremely sharp bowl gouge which took out some of the worst of the damaged areas but certainly not all of it.
I was particularly pleased with the dramatic and obvious contrast between the dark heartwood and the light sapwood in this piece. Most of the time, I would turn a piece such that the heartwood would appear in the bottom of the bowl with the lighter sapwood forming a contrast ring at the top but for reasons perhaps of pure chance, in this case I reversed that typical pattern and I am quite happy with the outcome. I hope viewers enjoy it as much as I do.
This piece also features a good deal of a type of figure that is known as “bird-peck.” This is similar in appearance to the more widely known “bird’s-eye” figure found in Maple. This piece was not sold to me as a piece of “bird-peck” Hickory and it could be that the figure wasn’t visible until the wood was turned down (this happens quite often to the frustration of vendors who can’t charge for what they don’t know is present) or perhaps the extent of the figure wasn’t considered sufficient to market it as such. No one knows for certain what causes “bird-peck” figuring to appear, nor does anyone know for certain why any other figures appear in wood, but some believe that it is a response to stresses or ill health of the tree. Whatever causes these figures to appear, wood workers are grateful for it when they can find it.
While this piece of Hickory presented its own unique challenges that had to be overcome, I think the final result was worth a bit of extra effort. I enjoyed making this piece and I will look forward to working with Hickory again in the future.
Whatever your particular wood working interests may be, but especially to all my fellow wood-turners out there, I wish everyone a good turn today.