May 15, 2009, Newsletter Issue #51: Alder wood is used for cabinet making

Tip of the Week

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.

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