Hickory Splits

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Blog entry by FredCat posted 01-03-2017 03:27 AM 597 reads 0 times favorited 1 comment Add to Favorites Watch

I am starting construction of Hickory kitchen cabinets for my Northern Michigan cabin and I have run into a problem. While I have been building cabinets and furniture with pocket holes for many years and had no problem with the wood splitting I am using Hickory and have hit a brick wall with the splits. I am using a Porter Cable PC 560 Quik Jig and I can’t see that being problem as it seems to put the screw holes close to the center of the 3/4 in stock. I switched from 1and1/4” fine thread to 1” fine thread with little change. I tried a little candle wax and no difference. I switched from a cordless impact driver to a cordless 12v drill with a clutch and took baby steps to secure the face frames together and that helped a little bit, however it still split a little just not as bad. Is there a better screw to use instead of Kreg screws? I always thought that Kreg screws were self tapping, perhaps a self pilot hole drilling screw if there is such a screw, Any help would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

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#1 posted 01-03-2017 04:20 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks!!!

I built a set of Hickory cabinets back in 2012. I had similar problems. I found that some sources of Hickory would work better than others. I bought my first hickory from a supplier in SC and it didn’t split and it milled well. After I moved to Virginia, the wood I purchased here was very dry and splintery. It would not mill with a router and would split from the pocket screws. I ended up pre-drilling, after using my pocket hole bit, with a small drill through the pocket hole into the side faces to keep them from spiting. I had to raise the door panels on the table saw. I did manage to mill the rails and stiles on the router table, but had to make at least three passes for each cut. I found the wood so hard that sanding the door panels smooth after glue up with hand sanders was too time consuming. I spent 5 hours sanding with both a 3” hand belt sander and a random orbital sander before I got the first door flat and smooth. I purchased a drum sander to finish the rest of the 28 doors for my kitchen.

To say that hickory is hard to work with is an under statement. But the end results are the most beautiful cabinets I have ever seen. The contrast between the heart and sap wood makes the cabinets pop. The wood is hard has a rock and holds up great. My cabinets look as good today as they did in 2012 when they were installed. No signs of wear.

here is a link to my project.

-- John, Suffolk Virgina

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