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What is Alder Wood?

Alder wood came into popularity as a cheap alternative to Cherry wood, which is how it earned the nickname “poor man?s cherry.” Today, Alder has grown in reputation and has thus risen in price due to its increased demand. Many owners will specifically request Alder wood to be used in the construction of their cabinets because of its interesting properties. However, cabinet builders typically will not recommend using Alder wood because it requires specific finishing techniques, and is often more expensive, than other more commonly used woods for cabinet construction. Those that choose Alder wood for use in their cabinet projects will do so because of its visual properties.

Alder wood exhibits two basic natural colors depending on the finishing technique used. If a water white lacquer and blond shellac are used, then the Alder will take on a light gold color. This style of finishing is often used in conjunction with knotted pieces of wood to achieve a rustic aesthetic. However, the first cabinet makers that began using Alder wood use an amber-toned finish to create a reddish color that resembled young Cherry wood. At the time, Alder wood was significantly cheaper than Cherry because it was considered a “weed” tree. A characteristic of red-finished Alder is that it will not darken with age the way Cherry wood will.

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