Hickory is one of the most popular and ideal woods for making tool handles.
Its exceptional strength, shock resistance, and durability make it perfect for impact tools that need to absorb repeated blows.
There are several key properties that make hickory the top choice wood for tool handles.
- Hickory is known for its shock resistance, making it ideal for absorbing impacts from tools like hammers and axes. The wood's ability to dampen vibrations protects tool users.
- Hickory rates very high on hardness and durability. Its dense grain can withstand repeated strikes over many years without splitting or breaking. This makes it perfect for high-use tools.
- The long, straight grain of hickory provides strength against both direct and angled impacts. This resistance to splitting makes it suitable for tools used at odd angles.
- Hickory is an ideal wood for impact tool handles including hammers, axes, pickaxes, sledges, mallets, and hatchets. Its properties stand up well to repetitive heavy striking forces.
- Hickory may be heavier than woods like ash. So it's better suited for high impact tools than lighter precision tools like chisels.
- For tool handles that need to absorb high shock loads, hickory's strength, durability and impact resistance make it the top choice over any other wood. It's the ideal material for demanding applications.
1. Shock Resistance
One of the stand out qualities of hickory is its high shock resistance. This refers to its ability to absorb and dampen impacts.
When a hammer, axe, or other impact tool strikes a surface, the hickory handle absorbs that shock efficiently.
This helps reduce the vibration and impact felt by the tool user with each strike.
Hickory has a combination of stiffness, resilience, and flexibility that makes it excel at shock absorption.
2. Strength and Durability
In addition to shock resistance, hickory possesses excellent strength and durability.
Its dense grain structure gives it the ability to withstand repeated impacts without cracking or breaking.
Hickory rates very high on the Janka hardness scale, which measures the resistance of various woods to denting and wear.
The dense, rigid grain of hickory allows it to stand up to years of regular use and abuse.
Handles made of hickory have a long lifespan compared to less dense woods.
3. Resistance to Splitting
Hickory displays high resistance to splitting and splintering.
When struck at an angle or with off-center impact, most woods will split down the grain.
But hickory's tight grain structure helps keep it intact where other woods would split.
The long straight grain gives hickory handles added strength against side impacts.
These properties make hickory perfect for tool handles that endure diagonal strikes during use.
Ideal Tools for Hickory Handles
Hickory is the ideal wood for handles on high impact hand tools.
Any tool used for striking, hammering, or smashing is a good fit for a hickory handle, including:
These tools see repetitive impact forces from multiple angles. Hickory has the ideal properties to withstand such forces over long periods.
Hickory handles help transfer force from the head to the target without absorbing too much of the impact.
This protects the user while providing power and control.
While hickory excels at impact resistance, it can be a bit dense and heavy compared to woods like ash.
This makes it less ideal for handles on lighter tools that require more precision rather than force, such as chisels.
So while hickory handles best fit high impact tools, other lighter woods may suit other purposes.
The Ideal Wood for Demanding Applications
When it comes to choosing a wood for tool handles, hickory is unmatched in its combination of strength, shock absorption, and durability.
There's a reason experienced craftsmen overwhelmingly choose hickory when fashioning new handles for axes, sledgehammers, and other high impact tools.
For handles that can withstand years of intense forces without failing, hickory is the clear choice.
Its exceptional qualities make hickory the ideal wood for the most demanding handle applications.