Wood 101: Alder

You are here:
Photo Courtesy of Canyon Creek Cabinet Co.   Workable. Versatile. Beautiful. It’s easy to see why alnus rubra – better known as Alder – has gained popularity in the global wood industry, particularly among cabinetry and furniture makers.
What is Western Alder The primary hardwood of the west, alder grows within the southern British Columbia to Northern California region. It’s a relatively small tree that only reaches about 90 to 100 feet in height at its 40-60 year maturity, with a trunk diameter of under 2 feet. But don’t let alder’s small size fool you. What it lacks in size, it makes up in usability, workability and beauty.  Northwest Hardwoods has been an industry pioneer in recognizing and utilizing this viable and valuable hardwood species as a prime lumber source.
  Why Use Alder Simple, what you make out of alder is beautiful due to the pleasing grain and consistent color. The fact that it machines well and finishes well is also a factor. Today, alder is considered a high quality high value hardwood like many other of the hardwoods offered by Northwest Hardwoods like cherry, hard maple and walnut.   What else does this medium density, somewhat soft (ranking just above pine and poplar in hardness) hardwood bring to the table?
  • Workability: alder is excellent for machining, turning, surfacing, drilling, boring, carving and molding
  • Versatility: alder can be nailed without splitting, screwed without pre-drilling, and glues well
  • Beauty: alder is sandable to a smooth finish, paintable and stainable (it is ideal for light or natural finishes and offers a warm honey color when finished naturally)
  Where to Use Alder Alder can be used to deliver a knotty, rustic or distressed appearance, in addition to beautiful clear look, making it ideal for use in a broad range of applications:
  • Cabinets
  • Doors and paneling
  • Moldings and millwork
  • Furniture, including casegoods, tabletops, chairs, furniture frames and other components
  • Picture frames
  • Toys
  • Interior joinery and other specialty wood products
  • Electric guitars
  As with most hardwoods, applications for alder vary depending upon the grading of the wood. That’s why Northwest Hardwoods developed proprietary grades that meet exact specifications demanded in various market segments.   Bottom line…use of alder is on the rise. With Northwest Hardwoods proprietary grading, customers get exactly what they need to maximize yield and minimize waste.

Recent Posts

Recent News

Join Our Mailing List