UTILITY LUMBER WITH MANY USES
Red alder has become an important utility lumber. Stable, economical and plentiful, it is used as a core for veneer and in the solid for mass-produced furniture. The inner bark turns a reddish orange when exposed to the air, hence the name. There are many alder
species in North America, but red alder is one of only two that are available commercially, the other being white alder (A. rhombifolia).
Type Temperate hardwood
Other names Oregon alder, Pacific Coast alder, western alder
Similar species Seaside alder (A. maritima), Arizona alder (A. oblongifolia), white alder (A. rhombifolia), speckled alder (A. rugosa), hazel alder (A. serrulata), sitka alder (A. sinuata), mountain alder (A. tenuifolia)
Alternatives Birch (Betula species), hickory (Carya species), beech (Fagus species), aspen (Populus species) Sources Pacific coast of North America from Alaska to California
Color Very pale to almost white when cut, with no clear sapwood. Darkens to yellowish red or light brown.
Texture Fine and even
Grain Generally straight and inconspicuous
Weight Light (28 lb./cu. ft.) (450 kg/cu. m)
Strength Moderate, but good for such a light lumber
Seasoning and stability Easy to season quickly, and very stable once dry
Range of board widths Good Range of board thicknesses Good Durability Poor durability in the ground, but better in -water. Prone to some insect attack.
Often cut for veneer.
Red alder is fast growing and widely grown, so there should be no issues regarding sustainability. You can find certified red alder, but specifying it is perhaps not as important as for other species.
AVAILABILITY AND COST
Widely available and relatively inexpensive.