Knotty Alder

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Forum topic by 308Gap posted 04-23-2011 08:12 PM 4504 views 1 time favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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337 posts in 3208 days

04-23-2011 08:12 PM

I want to TRY a project with knotty alder, my wife wants bedroom furniture with that look. I’m thinkin the finish will be a clear no stain look. I found a local supplier that has it in both mill lumber and veneer ply. I am very new at woodworking so here goes, I just dont want waste money on the ( if I had only known ) problems.

What do I need to DO and NOT DO while working with knotty Alder ?

-- Thank You Veterans!

19 replies so far

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2170 posts in 3055 days

#1 posted 04-23-2011 08:19 PM

The only outstanding caution would be about stain blotching, and you’re past that one, so get to cutting!



-- " his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View 308Gap's profile


337 posts in 3208 days

#2 posted 04-23-2011 11:04 PM

Excellent . The wife likes figured maple and love knotty alder. I just need to make some saw dust. Does alder prefer to sanded or scraped for final.

-- Thank You Veterans!

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 3273 days

#3 posted 04-24-2011 12:39 AM

I use quite a bit of alder and really like the way it mills. It’s a bit on the soft side, but a good, durable, finish should work well.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3247 days

#4 posted 04-24-2011 10:18 AM

I have milled about 800 BF of it in the last year and at least for me it tends to tearout easily while jointing and routing. When you joint/rout the edges take it in small amounts and it shouldn’t be a huge problem. If you decide to stain, I wipe it down with “green” mineral spirits first and then apply the stain when the wood is still moist. This has always helped me with the blotching problem, although I only stain it if the customer demands it. I don’t use a scraper but I have heard it works well. I use 150 than 220 with ROS than wipe with water and let dry to raise the grain then finish with 320 by hand.

View 308Gap's profile


337 posts in 3208 days

#5 posted 04-25-2011 02:52 AM

Thanks guys this should save me time and money.

-- Thank You Veterans!

View cabmaker's profile


1740 posts in 3014 days

#6 posted 04-25-2011 03:16 AM

Two species have the highest waste factor for me anyway. 1) knotty pine 2) knotty alder I have had batches in the past that yielded 40-45% waste FWIW

View StumpyNubs's profile


7681 posts in 3005 days

#7 posted 04-25-2011 03:29 AM

I find that, with knotty alder, it is always best to make the piece EXACTLY as your wife wants it. Otherwise you’ll end up with a knotty head…, that was terrible… ye’t I can’t bring myself to delete it…

-- Subscribe to "Stumpy Nubs Woodworking Journal"- One of the crafts' most unique publications:

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 3247 days

#8 posted 04-25-2011 05:04 AM

Stumps, it takes an incredible bold man to make such a statement and then stand by it, I applaud you. Bravo good Sir, Bravo.

View DLCW's profile


530 posts in 2859 days

#9 posted 04-25-2011 06:52 PM

Be careful on the knotty alder. There are two grades – lightly knotty (no holes or knots falling out) and heavy knotty (holes and knots falling out). If you use the light knotty, be careful when milling as it has a tendency to blow out like hickory. On the heavy knotty be careful in that you can have chunks of wood and knots flying around when cutting and milling (don’t ask how I know this).

The stuff doesn’t stain were beans. It’s like maple and cherry. If you want to lightly color use a clear shellac slightly tinted to the color you want. Even dyes tend to blotch some in this wood. I would recommend a finish that will provide a little amber coloring to the wood beacuse it doesn’t have much color or warmth to it. Clear poly makes it look dull. Lacquer does the same thing. I use ML Campbell Duravar conversion varnish that adds a slight amber tone and really makes the finished product warm and inviting.

-- Don, Diamond Lake Custom Woodworks - - "If you make something idiot proof, all they do is make a better idiot"

View Kent Shepherd's profile

Kent Shepherd

2718 posts in 3491 days

#10 posted 04-25-2011 08:26 PM

I love knottey Alder. We used it in part of my store.
I finished with semi-gloss lacquer using an airless paint gun (no stain)


View 308Gap's profile


337 posts in 3208 days

#11 posted 04-28-2011 06:35 PM

Ya the clear finish has a nice look, and I think I found some of the better grade here locally. I may try the deft brushing lacquer, or that em6000. Thanks for all the input folks, it really helps.

-- Thank You Veterans!

View Luke's profile


290 posts in 2892 days

#12 posted 04-28-2011 06:53 PM

I have a dining room table made from Knotty Alder, beautiful. I love the rustic look. (I know that doesn’t help with questions)

View Ken90712's profile


17594 posts in 3394 days

#13 posted 04-29-2011 11:50 AM

I’m at the end of building and Entertainment Center out of it. I bought Charles Niel Blotch Control and it works amazinly well. Easy wood to work with and sand. I use epoxy with a dye added to it to fill in the knots. I highly recommend using a dye stain if you choose to change your mind and not leave it clear. Good luck.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View 308Gap's profile


337 posts in 3208 days

#14 posted 04-30-2011 03:30 AM

I wonder if blotch control is the same as stain sealer?

-- Thank You Veterans!

View 308Gap's profile


337 posts in 3208 days

#15 posted 04-30-2011 03:30 AM

Luke lets see a pic!

-- Thank You Veterans!

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