How to Identify an Alder wood

The name Alder derived was from Alor, an old English word of ‘deciduous tree’. These trees belong to the birch family, Betulaceae. The largest species of alder are red alder grown on the west coast of North America and black alder, which is grown in Europe. It is a softer hardwood. It has great elasticity, which is excellent for wood carvings. It can take stains and paints easily without chipping off; the uniform application and the consistency of color make the wood apt for making furniture. This wood is straight grained with uniform texture, making it easy to saw.

European Alder

The European Alder has a light tan to reddish brown color and has the tendency to darken and become redder with time. It is not considered to be decay resistant and is advised to convert these logs into lumbers as quick as possible to avoid staining and decay. It has great gluing, finishing, and staining properties, which makes it easy to work within residential constructions. This wood is easy to work with both machine and hand tools. It is commonly used as charcoal for gunpowder, plywood, veneer, clogs, turned items, and poles. It is not widely produced as lumber, and is, therefore, a little more expensive. This wood has less durability above ground and rots and decays easily. Surprisingly, it has great durability underwater and is used for underwater constructions as piles and supports for bridges.

This wood is stable and extensively used in cabinet making in the furniture industry. It is soft and has a tendency to dent easily. There are more than 30 different species of Alder wood present. The sapwood and the heart-wood of this tree are almost same in color. Black alder wood has a short lifespan reaching up to 100-120 years of age. This wood is not susceptible to shrinkage. It is available as round or sawn timber. It is also used for making musical instruments, and can mimic high quality woods when stained. This wood does not possess great strength and thus cannot be used for applications that have a high traffic and make use of heavy loads. Therefore, it is not advisable to use this wood for flooring.

This wood holds nails and screws perfectly in their place. It dries easily and has good dimensional stability after drying. Most of the electric guitars such as Fender and Jazz Bass are made from Alder wood since 1950’s. Its value is second only to oak, providing a nice finish with a reasonable price. There are different grades of alder, which makes it usable for different purposes when treated and makes it last longer.

Alder is Economical

The lumber of Alder is fairly cheap, and the plywood tends to be on the higher side. The closed grain makes it easy for finishing the wood. The European alder is often known as the Black alder while North American Alder is known as Red Alder. European Alder is also used as an ornamental tree. Black alder is not restricted to Europe and is also grown in some parts of Asia.