The Difference Between Three Popular Types of Alder

When it comes to any furniture or other woodworking project, picking the wood you will use is the most difficult part. Where some woods are dense and tough as nails, others are light and easy to shape and cut. Depending on what you are building, there are distinct advantages to each end of the spectrum and the woods that fall somewhere in between.

While some woods are hard to come by at your local lumber retailer, others will be readily available at a specialty lumber yard in Houston. One of the more common woods is the alder family, of which there are three major types. Here is what you should know about each type of alder, so you can decide which one you want to use.

Nepalese alder

With a color that ranks redder than birch, Nepalese alder is a fine, straight-grain wood that originated in Southeast Asia. Its structure makes it an easy wood to work with and cut, meaning you won’t need any special saw blades to get a clean line. This is a benefit when it comes to working the wood, but it also makes it susceptible to superficial damage like dents and gouges. When handling or preparing Nepalese alder, you should be careful not to damage the surface. This is an ideal wood for turning projects and is easily stained or glued. Nepalese alder is typically less durable than its cousin, red alder.

European alder

Like Nepalese alder, European alder has many properties that make it ideal for household projects, though it is not common in woodworking applications. It too is redder than birch. Not only can European alder be turned easily, but its soft structure makes it an ideal carving wood as well. Because the European alders are slender trees, originating in Western Europe, it is unusual to find their wood in lumber form. It is, however, commonly found as a veneer and in plywood. While this type of alder does not fare well when left untreated after harvest, it is an ideal wood for underwater applications, like piles and structural supports.

Red alder

Red alder originates in the western coastal regions of North America and is generally a straight and moderately fine-grain wood. Like the other alders, it is not considered a durable wood and is subject to rot and decay if left untreated in short order after harvest. Red alder can be used for projects like cabinetry, millwork and musical instruments. Its characteristics allow it to darken over time and after being treated. Sanding red alder is generally very easy, but this also means that the surface can be damaged if protective measures are not taken when using woodworking tools.

For questions about a specific type of wood or to find out whether a type of wood is available near you, feel free to call the knowledgeable team at Houston Hardwoods Inc. We are your go-to lumber yard in Houston for all sorts of domestic and exotic woods. Get in touch today—we look forward to helping you!