finishing alder question

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Forum topic by , posted 08-16-2010 10:17 PM 1362 views 0 times favorited 6 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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2387 posts in 3787 days

08-16-2010 10:17 PM

The walnut job I posted about bidding on in the past, we might have won the job but it has turned into an alder job to save some money for the customer. But the customer wants me to make the alder look the same color as the walnut and they are after an even color. I have never even used any alder. Does alder take a stain decent. Should alder be sanded to 150 or 180 or something else. What are the best practices when finishing alder that work for everyone else. I am thinking I might need to apply a toner coat but not sure. I use toner coats a lot lately, they seem to work well when trying to add some color. Thanks for any suggestions.


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6 replies so far

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3526 days

#1 posted 08-16-2010 11:47 PM

Jerry, You shouldn’t have any trouble finishing alder. Experiment with your stains first to see what type works best. I think sanding to 150 or 180 should be good. Alder should take stain more consistently than some woods like soft maple They tend to be very blotchy if you don’t use a toner of some sort. I have found alder to stain relatively evenly. Lacquer works great as a finish—I don’t know what you use. You may match the color of walnut, but the grain is more subtle.

Jump in with some scraps and see what happens.


View Dez's profile


1166 posts in 4317 days

#2 posted 08-17-2010 01:09 AM

I would have to agree with Kent’s statements. Takes stain well and fairly evenly but as with all woods the grain will not be the same. Alder can be found in several grades from almost clear to “rustic”.

-- Folly ever comes cloaked in opportunity!

View Ripthorn's profile


1459 posts in 3225 days

#3 posted 08-17-2010 04:01 AM

Alder takes stain reasonably well, though you can get light rings around the dark grain patterns if doing a very dark stain. If you want a more uniform color, I would maybe look into using an aniline dye. This will probably be a little more expensive, but would probably give a more uniform color in the end. That’s just my experience.

-- Brian T. - Exact science is not an exact science

View GregP's profile


154 posts in 3117 days

#4 posted 08-17-2010 08:19 AM

I’ve done alder to look like walnut before, the results aren’t stunning but ok. It won’t have the beautiful grain of walnut, anyways here’s how mine came out; I used either medium or dark watco can’t remember which sorry.


-- Greg P, Washington State,

View ,'s profile


2387 posts in 3787 days

#5 posted 08-17-2010 03:08 PM

thanks for all of the information. I fear not providing exactly what the customer wants. I did the minor calculation and looks to only be a savings of 600.00 on the whole job to go to alder. With walnut, no stain process is required making it much easier to finish. So I am considering eating some cost myself in order to stay with walnut. We really do not loose much money when you consider subtracting the stain process step. Thanks a lot guys for the advice, I am looking forward to building something down the road out of alder.

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View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5149 posts in 4200 days

#6 posted 08-18-2010 04:52 PM

Do some sample boards, have the customer sign off on the sample, cut the sample in half across their signature, give ‘em half of the sample, stain the job same as the sample. COLLECT THE MONEY!!!!


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