Hickory is a hard, durable wood comparable to maple. It has strong colors and a tight grain. While many homeowners choose not to stain this wood but rather to display its unique hues and coloring, there's no reason why you can't stain it any color you like. Because Hickory is challenging to stain, you need to prepare the wood strategically to ensure it accepts the pigment.
Attach a piece of 100-grit sandpaper to the bottom of an electric sander. Run the sander across the surface area of the hickory, opening up the pores of the wood.
Moisten a lint free cloth with mineral spirits and rub down the wood you just sanded. This removes the dust from sanding.
Dab a silver-dollar sized amount of wood conditioner onto a lint-free cloth. Rub the cloth all over the surface area of the wood, distributing the conditioner evenly. Add more conditioner if necessary. Allow the conditioner to soak overnight.
Apply the wood stain of your choice with a 3-inch nylon brush. Exert firm pressure on the brush when applying the stain, moving your brush with and against the direction of the grain.
Cover the entire surface area of the wood in a generous coat of stain and then allow it to soak in for 45 minutes, before wiping up the excess. Repeat at least one more time before allowing the stain to dry overnight.
Coat the hickory with a low solids, clear sealer, applied with a foam brush. This helps the wood retain the stain best. Allow it to dry for 24 hours.