Alder wood has a slightly red undertone, but it only lets you see it at its most exquisite as it ages. It has a smooth grain that’s enhanced by its years of darkening, but it has more to offer than mere beauty. Its pliancy makes it a favorite among turners who want to work delicately with details, and its similarity to cherry makes it a more sustainable, economical way to achieve an exotic look.
Alder responds exceptionally well to stains, so it can be made to mimic a variety of scarcer species. Its blemishes respond differently to color than the rest of its grain, achieving a rustic aesthetic with graded variations. Its lack of porousness makes it one of the best woods for painting. You won’t need more than two coats to achieve full coverage.
Alder has the highest hardwood lumber grade, with an 83% clear face. Its grain is better than cherry’s, and it's light in weight. It will give you a glass-smooth surface without requiring a grain filler.
The softness of Alder is loved and hated in equal measure. It has a PSI of 590 and doesn’t take moisture well. It’s thus best for cabinetry, bedding, and decorative pieces. Reserve a different wood for surfaces prone to spillage. Alder is nonetheless extremely stable and resists cracks exceptionally. In Arizona's dry climate, alder wood does well.
This wood lends itself well to plywood core stock for its stability and responsiveness to glue. It’s often used for millwork and frames.
There are more than 30 species of Alder, each with its own tone and properties. Woodworkers find it a pleasure to work with, and furniture shoppers like the marriage of quality and price.