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Hi, All, My next project calls for a wood that is suited for furniture frame and turned parts. I've never tried Alder before, but from what I have read it works very nicely and takes a stain very well.
I would very much like to hear what the pros and cons of this wood type might be.
Thanks.
 

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I built a blanket chest for a wedding gift for a friend out of it:



It's very soft. It will dent quite easily if you aren't careful with it. It also works pretty easy with hand tools. It also typically has a lot of knots in it. I couldn't tell you about stain, though, as I don't like to stain wood.
 

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I haven't used alder, but I would treat it like cherry when it comes time for stain. I would use a pre-stain conditioner, and make some sample boards. Most of the alder projects I see look blotchy, and the pre-stain conditioner (like diluted shellac) helps prevent that.
For cherry I like a 3:2 mix of denatured alcohol to Bullseye sealcoat. That makes a great pre-stain conditioner.
 

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I have used alder. It is a lovely wood to work with, but as jmartel says, fairly soft. About the same hardness as fir.

It blotches, as pinto surmises. To stain it evenly you'll need to use a conditioner or sealer. Even better is to spray a toner.
 

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I have done a few things with alder and like it quite a bit. I can't get the project to embed, but you can see a dining table that I did here.

I thought it would ding up, but we have used it at least weekly for a year and it has nary a scratch. I'm impressed. It will stain on the blotchy side. If you like that (like I do) then great, otherwise maybe a conditioner.
 

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It looks dirty with brown stains. Maybe it can be stained
darker than I've tried and look good. Nice to work with
generally, stable and planes nicely. A local dealer to me
used to sell it pretty when I was getting started, but it hasn't
been common to see it here in So. Cal in recent years and
I've had to use birch instead. I like the alder a little better
for working but birch is easier to finish.

I like how bland and fresh fresh-planed alder looks. The
figure is nicely subdued and this helps emphasize the form
of the piece while the natural pale color sort of lifts
up the piece. Dark wood swallows light.
 

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Wood Table Rectangle Wood stain Flooring

It is nice to work with. Machines and works well. Keep chisels sharp or it can crush. It can be blochy when stained.
 

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I ve used a lot of Alder. It s a little soft but machines well. I don t use a conditioner, I like the natural look of the wood. (could just be me)
!- Iwud4u
It's not just you. I've used thousands of bdft, and still use it today. Prices have doubled since the '80's, but still readily available in Tucson. About half of what I made while in business was furniture in Alder, and the other half was general kitchen cabinets, all stained and lacquered. No complaints from any customers, but have been out of business since '03.
I've found it's really gentle with splinters as apposed to birch. I just touch birch, and get them…......... Jerry (in Tucson)
 

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Superior or Supreme is the wood grade to use unless you're after a bunch of knots, then go for face frame grade. The price should be about half for FF Grade. Superior grade s2s in Tucson sells for about $3 bdft ramdom widths and lengths. . ......... Jerry (in Tucson)
 

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Alder is this woodworkers wood of choice. I love everything about it. I'm actually grooming for harvest some alder off my property. It has tedious virtues from the moment the tree is felled, and more tedious yet until it is seasoned. I will sticker, dry naturally and cover it til use. I'll be doing my own kitchen with alder this coming year.
 

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Wood Table Rectangle Wood stain Flooring

It is nice to work with. Machines and works well. Keep chisels sharp or it can crush. It can be blochy when stained.

- Rob Drown
That's a nice looking little table.

I was hoping to use alder for a relief carved room divider, simply because I like the color. Does simply keeping the chisels sharp work well enough? Or should it be power carved? I found that tupelo is better for power carving because of the crushing (or, as I call it, tear-out)?

I made a knickknack shelf out of alder (all clear, no knots). It came out nicely. Hopefully I will get my camera skills up to snuff and post a pic.
 

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I don t know how accurate it is but Alder was described to me by an experienced woodworker as "The Poplar of the West Coast".

- MisterBill
Not an unreasonable comparison. Their hardness is very similar. They are both inexpensive. They both work easily and are readily available. I think Alder is more attractive than Poplar and looks good with a stain rather than just being for painting applications. Poplar will come in wider boards as the trees are generally larger.
 
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