Really no current topic on this my latest interest area.
As North American it is easy to just say hickory, hickory - nothing better.
But for this North American, hickory is an exotic that “lives” at least 1500 miles away.
Should-be some local/regional woods too!
Here PNW woods once used/currently recommended to me for long tool push-pull handles are vine-maple, big-leaf maple, rarer yew wood.
And I finally did find a traditional handle maker guy at the county fair who said for hammering/pounding the only thing to use here comparable to hickory is eastern dry-side Washington/Oregon ash woods. Only they had the no-fracture shock resistance and vibration self-dampening ability. Maple will fracture just up next to the heads he said. He was a real wood-DOer. Had two old restored working gasoline powered drag saws set ups. One crosscutting doug fir logs demonstrating his cross-cut saw sharpening… The other drag-saw set-up was rip sawing ash wood trunk blocks into handles blank stocks.
He made a BIG maple slab table with his rip drag saw from a last winters big-ol aged-out wind fell down yard maple tree. Got a craftsman blue-ribbon award for his table, project pictures.
Net searching shows some highly recommended European “local” tool handle woods. Some South American used/recommended woods.
I expect North American hickory would be a rare (expensive) import into Australia, New Zealand, South Africa too.
Some interesting ideas on handle woods, forming and best-practices drying curing can be Net dug up.
“learn before you need” is my motto/ethic. Later will be much, much harder. With lots of not-quite-good-enough attempts.
tree-farmer Steve Unruh