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Although oak and maple woods are some of the most common choices when it comes to making kitchen cabinets, alder wood is also used, especially red alder (also known as western alder), Oregon alder and Pacific coast alder.
Alder has a very unique and attractive appearance. Its color range is most often described as pale yellow to reddish brown. Alder is a popular choice among woodworkers for furniture, cabinets and rustic wood pieces. Red alder can also produce an interesting veneer with burr or burl clusters, streaks and knots. Red alder dries with almost no degrade. Even though alder can be a softer wood with medium density, it takes nails, glues and finishes well. Those buying kitchen cabinets are often attracted to one type of grain or another.
Some prefer straight, consistent grains while others don't mind a surface with no distinct pattern. Red alder is a fairly straight-grained wood. It also has a uniform texture. Woodworkers describe alder as having an interesting and pleasant but not outstanding figure. A figure in woodworking describes the way a wood is patterned. A good figure generally relates to a wood piece that has some more unusual effects.
Everywhere you turn lately there is talk about protecting our environment. People are asking more and more questions about the companies they do business with. Do they do what they can to reduce their own carbon footprint? Do they conserve materials and energy? Do they recycle? If you are like most people choosing wood cabinets for your kitchen, you probably love the look and feel of wood. Many woodworkers love their craft as well.
But, the huge amount of wood used in building every year does raise sustainability issues. If you are looking to be as "green" as you can, there are some things you should know before buying kitchen cabinets. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) has been formed to promote good forest management efforts worldwide. The FSC has a certification program that some lumber and wood suppliers might support to show their solidarity with proper resource management. You might ask about this program, but keep in mind finding FSC-certified wood can be difficult even for environementally-conscious businesses.
You might also ask your kitchen cabinet company how they manage waste, and if they are able to use recycled wood and other products. You might find more information online about this subject by using the keywords wood conservation, recycled wood and other similar terms.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|