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All About Alder

May 23, 2011

Those in the know about alder wood are enthusiastic about this material — but for the rest of us, alder remains more unfamiliar compared to names like pine and oak. So what is alder?


Alder grows from southern British Columbia to Northern California. Trees average approximately 90 feet in height. They mature in 30-40 years and begin to deteriorate after 60 years.  Alder makes up approximately 3% of the commercially available hardwoods in the United States. When freshly cut, alder is almost white but quickly changes to light brown with a yellow or reddish tinge. There is little difference between the heartwood and sapwood.


Alder is a medium density hardwood with close grain and fine texture. It is moderately light in weight, machines and turns well. It has good fastening properties and stains easily, but is appealing in its natural state.

Alder is used to make cabinets, furniture, furniture frames, picture frames and toys.

Other Uses

Native Americans used alder to make a variety of medicines including a quinine substitute. Alder is used in cooking and barbecuing in the same way as hickory and mesquite.

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