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Alder (Alnus rubra), part of the Birch (Betulaceae) family, is a softer hardwood from the Pacific Northwest. Consistent color, stability, and uniform acceptance of stains and finishes are some of the characteristics that have made Western Alder a preferred wood for furniture. Its elasticity makes it ideal for carving intricate details. Ranking second only to oak as the most commonly used wood, alder offers the look of many fine hardwoods at an economical price. A relatively small tree, reaching about 50ft in height, it will produce a trunk up to 15". When alder is first cut it is white but quickly changes color as soon as its exposed to enough air. Alder is consistent in color, from a pale pinkish-brown to almost white. Alder is fairly straight-grained with a smooth uniform texture; it may display pin knots, grain "fuzz" and mineral streaks. The growth rings are distinct, delineated by either a whitish or brownish line at the outer margin. The pores are uniformly distributed within a growth ring (diffuse porous). Rays are present and of two types, narrow (simple) and broad (aggregate). Both the pores and the rays are indistinct to the naked eye. The wood is without any characteristic taste or odor.
Because of its moderate specific gravity (28 lb/ft3, alder is not an exceptionally strong wood. In many applications this will be apparent as indentations on the surface of the wood. In furniture applications, it may be necessary to redesign joints and the sizes of structural parts to compensate for the often slightly lower strength values of red alder. Alder holds nails well and does not readily split when nails are driven into it. Lower grades of alder perform adequately as pallet material.
Coastal western North America
Average Dried Weight
Red Alder is very easy to work with both hand and machine tools. It sands easily, has excellent gluing, staining, and finishing properties. It also turns well.
European Alder (Alnus glutinosa) Nepalese Alder (Alnus nepalensis)