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Thread: Knotty Alder Doors

  1. #1

    Knotty Alder Doors

    Hello

    How hard is it to make a knotty alder door. My Mother in law just bought one and it stained well and looks awesome. The door looks like it is veneered but looks and feels heavy and sturdy. The door has rails and stiles and I could not tell if it was solid all the way through. Where do you get knotty alder anyway.

    Ben

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Houston, Texas
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    Hi Ben,
    Welcome to Family woodworking.
    I saw some knotty alder 8'0"x 2'8" raised panel exterior doors in Houston made by a door company here. Alder is new to this area ( several years maybe) but being used more and more. Don't know where it is from but it sure is pretty to me especially in the knotty form.
    Check the top of the stiles,( the long verticle pieces that runs full length of the door on left and right side )see if you can determine more that way.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    ozarks
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    alder is a left coast wood, we used to heat with it years ago when my uncle lived in oregon....lately it`s being used as a cherry substitute here `cause it stains up so well and runs about a buck to 1 1/2 bucks bf cheaper than cherry...
    [SIZE="1"] associated with several importers and manufacturers.[/SIZE]

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    RETIRED(!) in Austintown, Ohio
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    I used a lot of alder when I lived on the left coast. It was cheaper than poplar, and finishes up very pleasingly. I did a whole kitchen in it. Purposely kept the knots and defects. Filled them with epoxy, and 'celebrated' them. It made the cabinet doors look really great. I finished them natural, using Arm-R-Seal.

    Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures back then.

    Before that, when I live in the Northwest, (35 years ago) alder was considered a trash wood. All it was ever used for was firewood. I didn't even see any alder lumber until the mid eighties. I can't even begin to count the number of cords of alder I cut and split for firewood back then...

    BTW, here in Ohio, the one place I know of that has alder charges nearly the same for it as they do for cherry. (Cherry is way cheaper here than it was on the left coast. I paid $2.00 bd ft for the last that I bought).
    Jim D.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Nova Scotia's beautiful south shore
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    Here in NS and elsewhere in the east, alder grows like a weed in thickets. Rarely gets thicker than you wrist. Good wood for the smoker, but otherwise no too interesting.

    When I moved out to the Vancouver area, I couldn't believe that the 60+ft trees, 2ft at the stump had anything to do with the alder I knew. Different variety, to be sure, but it really thrives in that temperate rainforest setting.

    It wasn't in the bunks with the cabinet-grade hardwoods where I shopped, but it was popular for sofa frames and spindles. I like the colour and uniform grain. Never saw any that would qualify as knotty, but I imagine it would be quite nice. It's a good stable wood when properly dried.

    And, yup, a heck of a lot of it goes up the chimney out west - sad to say
    All the best,
    Ian G

    **Now holding auditions for a catchy new signature**

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    535

    Not quite the last wood I'd pick

    for an exterior door. First because once the finish fails the wood has little decay resistance of its own, Second, because all the production door companies are using it, and who wants to make something you could just go and buy (ok, maybe I'm grouchy this evening )

    We used it for drawer sides (another lousy application IMHO) in a shop I worked in for a couple years. Also used it for bed slats and framing of upholstered pieces- both acceptable. Last time I bought any was a couple years ago, ran about $2.25 bdft and was sold as "frame grade alder". If they're selling it for as much as FAS alder, find another yard

    It would work fine for interior doors, as the stress on them is much less, and the finish holds up much better.

    John

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Spokane, WA
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    John---Why don't you like alder for drawer sides? I haven't tried any yet, but I can get a good price on some and was going to pick up a bunch for just that purpose. Is there something I ought to know?
    "A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down."
    Robert Benchley

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Posts
    535
    Hi Dan,

    Alder is pretty soft stuff, and doesn't dovetail all that well. The shop I was in, we were using guides so alder's ok with those, but they also made the drawers with sliding dovetails which was a pain. It was also frame grade, so the owner saved $2 bdft on the wood, then paid a guy $10 hr to fill knots with epoxy and run it through the timesaver. I still think we would have been ahead using ash or soft maple.

    So if your deal is on FAS and you plan to use slides or hardwood runners it'll work ok for drawers. If you're going to do any handwork on the joints, its a bit like white pine without the hard anual rings.

    John

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Puyallup, WA
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    330
    On the west coast, particularly W. WA & W. OR, Alder is nature's way of proving that she abhors a void (you could add blackberry bushes to that list too). After any type of land clearing, unless otherwise planted, Alder trees naturally move in and grow approximately an inch/year up to about 18 - 24". When they surpass that, they're often rotten on the inside.

    Until the early 90's, it was consisered only good for firewood. However, after first picking up favor in N.Europe, it's now considered a desireable hardwood domestically too.

    I believe it's approximately as hard as Poplar.

    Up here, I can find it anywhere from $1.50/bf (knotty) to $3.00/bf (clear, 6+").

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Spokane, WA
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    60
    I picked up a little bit of it last time out, but haven't had time to experiment with dovetails. It is pretty soft, easily dented with a fingernail, softer than the poplar I've used. I can see where it might cause the same sort of difficulty as pine with handcut dovetails. Handplanes beautifully though. Guess i'd better play with it more before stocking up.

    Dan
    "A dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down."
    Robert Benchley

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