Machining Alder on a Moulder

Characteristics of Alder that affect its machinability and performance. April 30, 2009

Question
Is there any trick to running alder: machining, gluing, sanding, finishing? We usually run hard maple, cherry, oak, pine, and poplar. Relative to those woods does alder require any special considerations?

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor K:
Alder is soft. Not as soft as pine, but almost. It cuts and machines easily. It will blotch with stain, so be careful with that part.



From contributor R:
Machining alder on a moulder can test your patience. Alder is abrasive planed unlike most woods that are surfaced planed. The abrasive planer leaves a lot of abrasives behind that your tooling can't avoid. The mineral in alder will dull your knives and leave scuffs or drag marks in the finish products. This forces most people to sand the finish product requiring more labor. In the intermountain west it is one of the most common woods. It is machined by almost everybody that has a moulder and handles lumber.


From contributor T:
We use a lot of it. It definitely tears more than maple when routing curves. It shouldn't be worse than poplar. Ourís is always wetter than other woods we buy so we always have to re-dry it. We deal mainly with 8/4 stock so they may do a better job of drying thinner stock. We use a vinyl washcoat on it to stop the "sucking up" of the finish. It also keeps the color more uniform if you're dealing with end grain.