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Alder, American Red

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American red alder is the most common hardwood in the Pacific Northwest of the USA, and it the largest of the American alders. It is a fast-growing species and has nitrogen-fixing nodules on its roots that are formed as a result of a beneficial relationship with a species of bacteria. The distribution of red alder extends from southeast Alaska to central coastal California. While the species predominantly grows within 200 km of the Pacific coast, there is a small inland extension of red alder across northern Washington into northernmost Idaho.

American red alder timber is almost white when freshly cut but rapidly changes to a light brown colour with a red or yellow tinge when it is exposed to air. Heartwood is formed only in very old trees and there is no visible boundary between heartwood and sapwood. The timber is of medium density and low bending strength, making it unsuitable for structural applications. However, it machines, polishes and turns well, making it an ideal timber for furniture, cabinetry and other interior applications.

American red alder is available as both rough and dimension stock; veneer production is limited. While American red alder is readily available in the regions where it grows in the USA, its international availability is mixed.  The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is working to increase the export of the timber into markets such as Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

Appearance

American red alder timber is a moderately dense, reasonably straight grained and uniformly textured timber. When cut it is almost white in colour but changes rapidly to a light brown with a reddish or yellow tinge when exposed to air. Red alder can be sanded, painted or stained to produce a highly attractive finish.

Common Applications

American red alder is most commonly used for furniture, cabinets, interior mouldings, doors and joinery. Due to its excellent turning and carving properties, Red alder is used for novelties and kitchen utensils. It is also used in plywood and fibre-based products, such as tissues and writing paper. 

Common Form

Sawn

Workability

American red alder machines well and is an excellent timber for turning and polishing. It also nails, screws and glues well, making it ideal for furniture production. Red alder readily accepts paint and stains. Note that the grading rules are unique to this hardwood. The grades are: Superior (Select & Better), Cabinet (No.1 Common) and Frame (No.2 Common). When specifying red alder, it is recommended that you work closely with the supplier to determine the best grade for the intended application.

Origin of Timber

North America

Readily Available

NSW

Availability - Further Information

American red alder is reasonably available in the regions of the Pacific Northwest USA where it grows. It is available in some international markets but limited in others. Check with local suppliers or the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) for availability of the timber in your area.

Availability - Further Information

Native Forest

Shrinkage

Very Low Low Medium High Very High

Tangential :

4.20%

Radial:

2.40%

Unit Movement Tangential:

0.26%

Unit Movement Radial:

0.15%

Strength Group

Very High

High

Reasonably High

Medium High

Medium

Reasonably Low

Low

Very Low

Unseasoned:

S1

S2

S3

S4

S5

S6

S7

Seasoned:

SD1

SD2

SD3

SD4

SD5

SD6

SD7

SD8

Stress Grade

Structural
No. 1
Structural
No. 2
Structural
No. 3
Structural
No. 4
Structural
No. 5

Unseasoned:

Seasoned:

Density per Standard

Seasoned:

460kg/m3

Unseasoned:

730kg/m3

Joint Group

Very High

High

Reasonably High

Medium

Low

Very Low

Unseasoned:

J1

J2

J3

J4

J5

J6

Seasoned:

JD1

JD2

JD3

JD4

JD5

JD6

Colour

  White, yellow, pale straw to light brown Pink to pink brown Light to dark red Brown, chocolate, mottled or streaky
   

Mechanical Properties

Modulus of Rupture - Unseasoned:

45

Modulus of Rupture - Seasoned:

68

Modulus of Elasticity - Unseasoned:

8.1

Modulus of Elasticity - Seasoned:

9.5

Maximum Crushing Strength - Unseasoned:

20.4

Maximum Crushing Strength - Seasoned:

40.1

Impact - Unseasoned:

Impact - Seasoned:

Toughness - Unseasoned:

Toughness - Seasoned:

Low - up to 15 Nm

Hardness - Unseasoned:

2

Hardness - Seasoned:

2.6

Durability

Low Moderate Reasonably High High
(0 - 5 yrs) (5 - 15 yrs) (15 - 25 yrs) (more than 25 yrs)

In-Ground:

(0 - 7 yrs) (7 - 15 yrs) (15 - 40 yrs) (More than 40 yrs)

Above ground:

(0 - 20 yrs, usually < 5) (21 - 40 yrs) (41 - 64 yrs) (More than 60 yrs)

Marine Borer Resistance:

Lyctid Borer Susceptibility:

Not Susceptible

Lyctid Borer Susceptibility - Other:

Termite Resistance:

Not Resistant

Fire Properties

Bushfire Resistance:

Not tested

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