There are some woods we are used to hearing about in furniture making and home construction: oak, cherry, pine, and maple come to mind.
In recent years, another type of wood has been growing in popularity as a sturdy, versatile, and economic alternative: alder wood.
Especially in the Pacific Northwest, alder wood is abundant and its great qualities as furniture wood are being acknowledged worldwide. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of alder wood for things like bedroom furniture.
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Benefits of Alder Wood
Alder has developed a great reputation for furniture building for several reasons:
- It has an even texture with a muted grain pattern and can be stained, painted, and sanded for a beautiful, expensive-looking finish.
- It doesn’t split from nails, takes screws without pre-drilling, and glues well.
- It is considered a soft hardwood, but has a medium-density, making it both lightweight and strong.
- It has properties like stiffness, shock resistance, and low bending strength.
- It has the highest hardwood lumber grade, with an impressive 83% clear face.
- It is excellent for matching and turning.
- It accepts stain well and can be successfully substituted for other woods when the right stains are applied.
- When it is finished naturally, it has an appealing warm honey colour.
- It is less expensive than many other hardwoods on the market.
Why the Rise in Alder Wood?
Alder grows in the Pacific Northwest, throughout the United States and Canada, and natural roots on the moist ground near rivers, ponds, and lakes. Alder trees live for approximately 60 years and mature trees can reach a height of around 28 m (92 ft).
Tree removal, especially of hardwood trees, is a contentious issue, which is another reason why alder is growing in popularity. In addition to alder trees growing quickly, they respond well to forestry development and management. Unlike some species of valuable trees used in lumber and furniture building, alders send out new shoots from their stumps, roots, or trunks when cutting down.
So instead of having to reforest an area that has been harvested, alder trees stumps will regrow on their own. Since the roots stay alive in the ground, this also helps prevent soil erosion. Therefore, the alder tree is one of the most environmentally beneficial trees that can be used for lumber and home construction.
The Future is Alder
Less than two decades ago, not many people gave much thought to alder wood as a viable option for furniture building.
However, when it comes to growing and building local, high-quality bedroom furniture, alder is one of the best choices out there. In the Pacific Northwest, where the conditions are perfect for alder trees to proliferate and grow, especially with proper land management techniques, alder wood is an excellent choice for furniture.
Once alder’s beneficial properties were realized, there has been a proactive campaign to develop this resource and export it widely. Demand has reflected these efforts. If you look a little deeper into your bedroom furniture and the building materials around you, you may find just find some alder wood hiding in plain sight.
If you have any questions about alder wood furniture, please feel free to contact us.