I just got a load of mixed hardwood. It all looks the same. The bark on the hickory looks smoother than the oak but I can’t visually tell the difference between the oak and hickory. Can somebody help?

Just looking at the bark, it really is hard to tell the difference between hickory and oak, and we have a less than a perfect record guessing between them! But what we have found to work, almost 100% of the time, is to take a lighter and burn the edge of the wood just enough to release that good aroma that each one has. Hickory will jump out at you like a freight train! While the oak will be just a bit more subtle about it. Another idea is to make yourself sort of a “catalog” of the different woods once you’ve positively identified a chunk of it. Use a piece of plywood, or something similar, and mount chunks of each wood, with the bark on them. Put the name under each piece. Keep the catalog near your wood pile for easy reference.

The Audubon Society publishes a series of field guides. The tree guides have pictures of trees along with pictures of their bark to help you tell one tree from another.