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Let's talk about alder

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  • Let's talk about alder

    I have lots of alder on my land and I cut it sometimes to thin things out. In the past, I've either given some away for firewood or dozed it to decay where I couldn't see it from the house. It dawned on me that maybe I could re-saw some to use but I haven't seen alder come up on the forums. Have any of you used alder for scrolling? If so, what's your experience been?


  • #2
    MMMM alder. Yummy

    If you can dry it and get it resawn do it!
    Alder is a great wood for carving I am sure it would be good for scrolling too.
    "proud member of the best scroll sawing forum on the net."
    Ryobi SC180VS scroll saw EX21


    • #3
      Ive used alder a few times and would say its roughly similar to poplar. Soft, easy to cut, lots of fuzzies.
      ‎"Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They're easier to ignore before you see their faces. It's easier to pretend they're not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes."

      D. Platt


      • #4

        I do some wood carving and northern basswood is great but after spending 36.00 on just enough to make a fire in a potbelly stove, im going to be continually looking for another sourse of carving wood.

        all i could find on alder was

        alder commom, europien
        from the site above , said worked young it works ok, but brittle, and prized for its long endurance under water, called scottish mahogany, so it must dry hard.

        looks sikmular to mulburry to me from the photo but mulburry has a split leaf, or looks like a mitton. and the wood is yellow until it oxidizes.

        on the darving fourm i remember someone saying one of the master carvers use to keep it wet to carve it.?
        so i wonder myself if this is the same wood?

        Attached Files
        Dremel 1680 & Delta ss250 shopmaster


        • #5

          Product Descriptions: ALDER
          (Alnus rubra)
          Color: Pale Yellow to Reddish Brown.

          The Tree: A relatively small tree, reaching about 50ft in height and producing a trunk in diameter up to 18".

          The Wood: A soft, relatively low-strength, straight-grained, even-textured wood. Works well with hand and machine tools, but sharp cutting edges need to be maintained to prevent tearing the grain.

          Typical Uses: Furniture, turning, carving, toys, plywood, veneer.

          Source Region: Pacific Coast of North America.
          Dale w/ yella saws


          • #6

            I didn't look it up, nor have I ever used it, but based on Lucky's description it sounds as if it's characteristics are similar to Tupelo. I've never scrolled Tupelo but have carved a few hundred decoys from it and if Alder carves like Tupelo it should be a good wood to try.
            If it don't fit, don't force it....get a bigger hammer!!


            • #7
              I have used Alder for scrolling and you can buy it from hardwood dealers. It
              is very similar to Cherry in scrolling, color, and when finished. I like it as a
              substitute for Cherry as it costs about half as much as Cherry and looks just
              like Cherry. I still have some left and intend to use it in my scroll saw projects.


              • #8
                tuper gum,

                humm i did go into the swamps at low water season and cut a big tuper gum one year, i was ashamed leaving the whole tree just to get the butt cut off the log, but that is the prime carving wood.. the butt got painted with hot parifine wax and was put in the barn rafters for a year ... took 3 of us to get it there and one carried it out.

                i cut it up rough with chainsaw and gave all of it away, to relatives & helpers carve duck decoy or wanted to try it. but kept a chunk bout the size of a loaf of bread..

                i dont recall it particulary being real spactacular, kinda like carving cypress knee as i remember, gummy

                i do remember the ribbons of sawchips that came out with the chainsaw, looked like a party in the woods. theres no way to hide cutting one of them trees...

                i cut a big tree in the back yard the old neibor called it alder, but it had leaves of three points like posion ivy, me and the kids always broke out when we worked around it, so it had to come down
                the wood was color of sugar pine light granes
                Dremel 1680 & Delta ss250 shopmaster


                • #9

                  Thom....hang on to that chunk of tupelo. It makes a fine carving wood and will hold a lot of fine detail. Your knives have to be super sharp though. One of my friends brought me a few large pieces up from Lousiana a couple of years ago (still damp). I carved a miniature carousel horse from a piece using a Gesswein Power Hand and tiny rotary bits. My basement smelled like a fish market for a week!!!
                  If it don't fit, don't force it....get a bigger hammer!!


                  • #10
                    i thought that smell was me?
                    couldnt understand why i only smelled like that in the barn though? hahaha!

                    naw i never smelled a fish market, just the swamp when i was cutting it in the woods

                    thinking of it, i got to find somebody cutting pulpwood to get me a couple stumps soon before the water gets back up...
                    Dremel 1680 & Delta ss250 shopmaster


                    • #11
                      I agree that alder can be a nice substitute for cherry especially with a light staining. But I got about 110 bd ft of it that I wound up making shelving units and such because of the grain pattern in it. I don't know if all the little dark lines are common with alder or just with the batch that I got. It saws, planes, and sands very nicely and the little dark lines that resemble cracks didn't show up much at a distance on fretwork clocks but when I tried using some for turning bowls I have to explain to everyone that picks them up that they are not cracks at all but just natural coloring in the grain of the wood . Therefore I don't use it anymore.
                      Hope the picture shows clear enough for what I am referring to.
                      I worked on a giant bandsaw in a furniture factory for a few years in another life and they used alder for all of the framework in sofas and chairs etc but they were all covered with upholstery.

                      The task ahead of us is never as great as the power behind us

                      Delta P-20 Scroll Saw, 14" x 43" Craftex Wood Lathe and Jet 10" Mini Lathe .


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