turning and furnishings

For quite some time alder was avoided and considered an inferior wood for crafts people, but with the greatly reduced access to other hard woods alder has become more and more popular. Its redish brown wood has become quite fashionable for bowl, plate and other woodturning crafts today. Woodworkers are enjoying alder's softness and workability.

More and more furnishings are now made with alder and more people are enjoying its dark finish

construction carpentry

Alder is not widely used in home and building construction but its ability to be harder and stronger in water made it the perfect wood for the foundations of the buildings of Venice.

Alder is also the wood of canal lock gates.

other crafts

From medieval times, alder became a popular wood for harp making. It is said that O'Carolan's harp frame was made of alder.

Many whistles and flutes have also been made with alder due to a mythology connection to the ravens who seem to love to sit on the top of alder trees. There is a strong belief that whistles of alder are as healing and transforming and music from harps. It may also be a reason why the making of harps transferred to the choice of alder wood for awhile.

Perhaps the most famous instruments to be built with alder are the Fender Stratocaster and Telecaster guitars. Fender swear that it is the alder that fixes the tone of their electric guitars and not the pick ups. Several other guitar makers have now switched to making their guitars with alder wood. Mahogany is now hardly ever used in guitar making. That's an environmental plus.

Three dyes can be obtained from alder.
The bark provides a purplish colour, once for royal purposes.
The catkins when green give a green dye that is associated as being the source of green for fairies and elves
The flowers and young stalks give a golden yellow dye.

Alder is also made into charcoal which when burned give an oily smoke that is perfect for smoking salmon and other fish and shellfish.

to read about Alder as a fuel in the hearth, please click here