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Alder, Red

Red Alder is typically found in the western part of North America. It is a water loving, quick growing tree that thrives in moist conditions. On average this species tends to be knottier than other hardwoods. However, visibility between heartwood and sapwood is extremely low.


Properties:

  • Alder works well with both machine and hand tools. It has good nailing and gluing properties, finishes well and it is moderately light in weight.
  • It has a medium density, medium crushing strength, low stiffness, low bending strength and has a low shock resistance.
  • Red Alder can take a stain extremely well to complement such woods as Walnut and Cherry.
Thicknesses

Subject to availability

4/4
5/4
6/4
7/4
8/4
9/4
10/4
12/4
16/4
20/4
1/2"
3/4"
1"

Distribution

Coastal Western North America

Scientific Name

Alnus rubra

Specific Gravity: Basic

0.37

Specific Gravity: 12% MC

0.45

Janka Hardness

590

Colour/Appearance

Red Alder tends to be a light tan to reddish brown; colour darkens and reddens with age. There is no visible distinction between heartwood and sapwood. The overall grain pattern and appearance is similar to Birch (Betula genus) though redder than Birch and both genera are derived from the same family, Betulaceae.

Grain/Texture

Grain is generally straight, with a moderately fine, uniform texture.

Endgrain

Diffuse-porous; small pores commonly in clusters or radial multiples of 2-4; growth rings distinct; smaller rays not visible without lens, larger aggregate rays less common but easily visible without lens; parenchyma banded (marginal), apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates.

Rot Resistance

Red Alder is rated non-durable to perishable regarding decay resistance, and freshly cut logs should be quickly converted into lumber and dried to prevent staining or decay in the wood.

Workability

Red Alder is very easy to work with both hand and machine tools; it sands especially easy. The wood is rather soft, however, and care must be taken to avoid denting it in some applications. Red Alder has excellent gluing, staining, and finishing properties; it also turns well and behaves similar to Black Cherry.

Odor

No characteristic odor.

Allergies/Toxicity

Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, Alder in the Alnus genus has been reported to cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation.

Pricing/Availability

Red Alder is usually sold in two different grades: knotty, and clear. Knotty Red Alder is likely to be very inexpensive, on par with other domestic utility woods such as Poplar or Aspen. Clear Red Alder is likely to cost a bit more, closer to other cabinet hardwoods such as Birch or Maple.

Sustainability

This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
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