Questions on alder

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Forum topic by wseand posted 06-09-2010 09:54 PM 2259 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2796 posts in 3555 days

06-09-2010 09:54 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question alder

I just went to Adams Hardwoods/Molding in El Paso, just to check it out of course. Well I came home with 200BF of frame grade Alder. Y’all are a bad influence on me, you should be ashamed of yourselves…. ;~)... Now you have to help me. Did I get some descent lumber, regardless of price? Best way to finish it, not going to stain at all? How is this wood to work with, Planing, sanding, etc….? Any comments appreciated, unless it is bad news than don’t tell me, well just be gentle.

Thanks all,

14 replies so far

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117722 posts in 4090 days

#1 posted 06-09-2010 11:39 PM

Enjoy Bill I’ve never used Alder

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John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4250 days

#2 posted 06-10-2010 02:15 AM

I don’t know what “frame grade” alder is. Could you post a photo? However, I have worked with a lot of it. It is very easy to work and looks great with a natural finish. Some grades have a lot of knots and then there are some grades that are knot free. Much harder to find. Don’t be intimidated with alder. Any wood with knots will have a tendency to dull cutting tools much quicker. Design plays a big part in deciding which woods and grades to use. S

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

View dichdoc's profile


14 posts in 3431 days

#3 posted 06-10-2010 03:00 AM

I’ve been buying knotty Alder for $1.00 a BF lately. My whole house is trimmed in it as well as most of the doors. It’s finished in a Watco Medium walnut. The only thing I have noticed with it versus other woods is I seem to get plenty of tear out while jointing, no matter what direction I feed it.

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1170 posts in 3971 days

#4 posted 06-10-2010 03:03 AM

isn’t Alder what they call the poor man’s cherry?

-- San Diego, CA

View lobro4's profile


210 posts in 3726 days

#5 posted 06-10-2010 04:23 AM

I love working alder. It releases a sweet smell when you cut and mill it. Not hard on the tools and preps very nicely. It can be a teeny bit splotch prone. I followed a fellow woodworkers advice and prepped with a simple mix. 4parts Mineral spirits to 1 part BLO (5 parts total) Put it on the wood and let dry overnight then apply your stain. Beautiful grain and takes any color of stain well (which is interesting for a light-colored wood if you ask me)

-- Rock Chalk Jayhawk Go KU!!

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190 posts in 3428 days

#6 posted 06-10-2010 04:59 AM

I read this article at fine woodworking magazine issue 205

Red alder
Subtle grain,rich color.Red alder has the warmth of cherry,with slightly more subtle grain, making it great for
furniture with clean lines,
red alder has a nicer grain pattern than cherry, and its sapwood is less of a headache when it’s time to apply a finish.”
—Mark Edmundson, frequent contributor
Often referred to as poor-man’s cherry, red
alder has a grain pattern similar to cherry.
It’s dimensionally stable, relatively light, and
works beautifully. Wide, clear, and long pieces
are readily available. It takes a stain or dye
well, and with the right color is a good cherry impostor

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2796 posts in 3555 days

#7 posted 06-10-2010 05:11 AM

John it is knotty Alder, it sure looks a bit like cherry. I got it for a $1.07 BF it is pretty clean and looks good. It does look a bit “fibrous” I already got a crap load of splinters. Thanks for all the advice I am looking forward to tearing into tomorrow. We’ll see what happens.



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130 posts in 4039 days

#8 posted 06-10-2010 05:19 AM

I watched Charles Neil’s lastest DVD “It’s All About Color” and he mentions that alder is prone to blotching and suggested using a blotch control before staining.

-- -Willing to try

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John Ormsby

1288 posts in 4250 days

#9 posted 06-10-2010 06:23 AM

Bill, I just uploaded a photo in the Projects area of LJs. It is an entertainment center in Alder I did about 9 years ago. It has a clear polyurethane finish.

-- Oldworld, Fair Oaks, Ca

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2796 posts in 3555 days

#10 posted 06-10-2010 08:49 AM

Thanks John it is a real nice E-center. I am beginning to think I made a good choice.
I appreciate the blotching warning Mickey and Lobro, I will definitely do some testing prior to finishing.


View doninvegas's profile


334 posts in 3420 days

#11 posted 06-10-2010 05:57 PM

Thanks for this post. I just received 150BF of salted and patina Alder and can’t wait to start working it.

-- "Courage is being scared to death -- but saddling up anyway."

View tyskkvinna's profile


1310 posts in 3499 days

#12 posted 06-10-2010 06:34 PM

I recently did a project in alder.. it was pretty nice to work with. My only major alder learning experience was I just could not get it to take a good sanding at anything over 120 grit. I don’t know if it was the fibrey tendancies or if I was doing something wrong.. I just stained it after the 120, it took the stain really, really well – really evenly too.

I totally got the piece by accident – it was very weather-worn and looked like the rest of the maple I had in a pile but didn’t quite “feel right”. But ended up being exceptionally nice to work with, I’d buy more.

-- Lis - Michigan - -

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2796 posts in 3555 days

#13 posted 06-11-2010 01:27 AM

It cuts and planes real nice. I sanded with ROS 150 than 220. Wiped some Mineral Spirits on let dry for a couple of minutes than hand sanded with 320. It comes out real nice.

Lis, try getting it a little bit damp and allowing the grain to raise a bit.

Real nice grain pattern has a bit of gray in it, well at least mine did.

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2796 posts in 3555 days

#14 posted 06-11-2010 03:15 AM

Jarrod that helps a lot I was 75/25 on not staining but I think you have made my mind up to not. I have already noticed the tearout on the knots but so far nothing to bad but I’ll keep the glasses on. The end grain did clean up nicely, I was a bit surprised. Real nice wood so far.

Thanks much.

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