In this Species Spotlight, Timber Products veneer specialist Eric Cullen shares his insight on Alder.
Species: Alder (AlnusRubra), sometimes called Western Red Alder, began to make inroads in the kitchen cabinet market roughly 15 years ago when Birch heartwood was in limited supply and high demand. Alder became an alternative to red Birch, and has since gained a foothold in the market as one of the more popular species. Alder is the most abundant hardwood species in the Pacific Northwest, where most trees are harvested (and replanted) for housing and woodworking use. And here’s a fun fact: because of its oily smoke, Alder is the wood of choice for smoking salmon.
Appearance: Alder has more character than the traditional hardwood species. Rustic, with its knotty appearance, is the most popular of the Alder grades.Although Alder is a hardwood, its grades and appearances tend to be more similar to Western Softwood species rather than hardwood species.
Uses: Common uses of Alder include cabinets, furniture, millwork, pellets, musical instruments and firewood. Its popularity for producing guitars stems from its balanced tonality. In panel form, Alder is most often used for making kitchen cabinets. At Timber Products Company, Alder is the largest plain sliced species produced for customers. Alder is primarily used in the West for Western style log homes.
Characteristics: Light tan to reddish brown in appearance. Color darkens and reddens with age. No visible distinction between heartwood and sapwood. Rustic grade features a lot of knots and character. Small pores and a fine, even straight grain. Rustic’s goal is to have lots of knots and character. Always planked-matched. Glues well and stands on its own with a clear finish.
Current Trends: Recently, Alder has moved beyond log homes and mountain lodges into modern homes where it really stands out and adds character to otherwise plain interiors. A popular veneer lately is our TP Knotty Alder, which is often described as Rustic Alder on steroids for its ultra-Rustic appearance. The veneer is sliced exclusively from lumber, so the color is already set.
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