How to Finish Hickory Wood

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Things You'll Need

  • Palm sander

  • 220-grit sandpaper

  • Tack cloths

  • Masking paper

  • Professional painter's tape

  • Drop cloths

  • Light color of oil-based stain

  • Wooden stir stick

  • Roller frame

  • Shed-free roller cover

  • 2- to 4-inch oil paintbrush

  • Polyurethane varnish

You can enhance the appearance of hickory wood and protect it from moisture by finishing it with the appropriate coating. Before you get started, understand a critical point. Hickory is ill-suited for stain, because the wood grains are very hard in some spots and soft in others. This characteristic causes uneven absorption, which inevitably leads to splotchy results. If you are dead set on staining, your best bet is to choose a light color of stain. Otherwise, you should opt to apply a clear, glossy polyurethane varnish coat that will provide an attractive sheen and protect the hickory from moisture and abrasion scars.


Step 1

Sand the hickory, using a palm sander, stocked with 220-grit sandpaper. Sand along with the wood grain until the finish feels smooth.

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Step 2

Wipe sawdust from the hickory, using tack cloths.


Step 3

Protect the areas you do not want finished by covering them with masking paper, drop cloths and professional painter's tape.

Step 4

Coat the hickory with a light color of oil-based stain, using a roller, equipped with a shed-free cover. Use a paintbrush, manufactured for use with oil-based paint, to apply stain to areas, inaccessible to the roller. Use cloth rags to wipe the wet stain from the hickory. Wait a minimum of four hours for the wood to dry. Skip this step if you'd prefer a clear varnish finish.


Step 5

Rinse stain from the paintbrush, using mineral spirits.

Step 6

Coat the stained hickory with polyurethane varnish, using the clean paintbrush. Wait a minimum of four hours for the hickory to dry.


Always sand along with the hickory wood grain, or splintering will result.

Never use a dark stain on hickory, or the finish will dry splotchy.


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