Alder wood is a popular choice in woodworking due to its versatility and aesthetic appeal. However, many DIYers and beginner woodworkers aren’t aware if alder is a hardwood that’s suitable for their project.
In this article, I’ll share details about the characteristics, uses, and strengths of alder wood to clarify this matter.
Hardness Rating of Alder
Alder wood is a relatively soft hardwood that has a Janka hardness rating of 590 Ibf. This rating indicates that it has a lower resistance to indentation and wear compared to many other hardwoods.
Despite this, it’s still a popular choice for furniture, cabinetry, and woodworking projects. Here is a table comparing the Janka hardness ratings of alder to different wood species:
Janka Hardness Rating (lbf)
Brazilian Walnut (Ipe)
Characteristics of Alder Wood
Alder wood is known for its light to medium brown color with a reddish hue. It has a medium density and is relatively lightweight compared to other hardwoods.
Also considered a member of the Birch family, it is commonly used for furniture and interior trim due to its attractive appearance and workability.
Alder wood is a hardwood known for its straight grain pattern and even texture that makes it ideal for woodworking projects. Here are some of the top qualities of alder wood:
Pros and Cons of Alder Wood
Uses of Alder
Having worked with Alder for various projects, I can personally vouch for its versatility and affordability. This wood is an all-rounder; it’s not only visually appealing but also has practical attributes that make it stand out. Its warm, natural look and ease of use make it a popular choice for a wide range of woodworking projects.
It has a wide variety of uses due to its versatility and affordability. It is commonly used for furniture, cabinets, and interior trim. It’s also popular for carving and decorative purposes due to its ease of use and attractive appearance.
In addition, alder wood is used in the production of musical instruments such as guitars and ukuleles. Its even texture and tonal qualities make it an ideal choice for soundboard material.
Alder wood is a versatile material that is used in a variety of woodworking projects. Here are some common uses for alder wood :
Is Alder Wood Strong?
Alder wood is a hardwood, but it is one of the softer hardwoods available. Its hardness rating is generally lower than that of oak, maple, or birch. However, this does not necessarily mean that alder wood is weak or unsuitable for use.
To compare the hardness of alder wood to other hardwoods, let’s take a look at the Janka hardness scale. This scale measures the amount of force required to embed a steel ball half its diameter into the wood. The higher the number, the harder the wood.
Hardness Rating of Alder Compared to Oak
Janka Hardness Rating (Ibf)
Northern Red Oak
Southern Red Oak
As you can see, Live oak has a significantly higher hardness rating than alder wood. However, it is important to note that the hardness of the wood does not necessarily correlate with its strength or durability.
Strength of Alder Compared to Pine
While pine is technically a softwood, and it is often used as a comparison to hardwoods due to its prevalence and popularity.
As you can see, alder wood has a higher hardness rating than white pine, making it a stronger choice for certain usage and application.
Janka Hardness Rating *Ibf)
Strength of Alder Compared to Maple
Maple wood is a popular hardwood that is commonly used in woodworking. It is known for its durability, strength, and attractive grain patterns. When compared to alder wood, maple is generally stronger and more durable.
There are many different species of maple, each with its own unique characteristics. The two most commonly used species of maple in woodworking are hard maple and soft maple.
In comparison, alder wood has a Janka hardness rating of around 590 lbf, making it significantly softer than hard maple and slightly softer than soft maple.
The following table compares the Janka hardness ratings of several different species of alder and maple:
Janka Hardness Rating (Ibf)
Strength of Alder Compared to Birch
Birch is another popular hardwood that is commonly used in woodworking. It is known for its strength, durability, and attractive grain patterns. When compared to alder wood, birch is generally stronger and more durable.
Numerous birch species exist, each possessing distinct and individual characteristics. Among these, yellow birch and white birch stand out as the two most frequently utilized species in woodworking. .
In comparison, alder wood has a Janka hardness rating of around 590 lbf, making it significantly softer than both yellow and white birch and other wood types under birch.
The following table compares the Janka hardness ratings of alder and birch woods:
Janka Hardness Rating (Ibf)
Is Alder a Good Hardwood?
Yes, alder wood is a good hardwood favored for its grain, stability, and ease of use. Though not as strong as some, it’s still durable and popular with furniture and cabinet makers due to its staining properties. It can be stained to mimic other woods, making it a cost-effective option.
Alder is a hardwood, but it’s softer than other types within the same classification. It’s a versatile hardwood with many uses in woodworking.
Additionally, it’s a cost-effective hardwood option due to its attractive grain patterns and excellent staining properties. While it’s not as strong as some hardwoods, I can still say that alder is worth considering for your next project.