Wood Species In Detail – Cherry & Alder

At Osborne Wood Products, we supply the cabinet and furniture trade with the highest quality decorative wood components. Naturally, we work hard to source the highest quality wood possible. In an effort to better help our hobbyist and DIY customers make the right choice in which wood types to use in their projects, we are introducing a new blog series in which we go into detail discussing our various wood types and answering any common questions our customers may have.

An example of an unfinished cherry leg with a streak of sapwood.

Cherry is a very popular wood choice, known as being one of the best all-purpose woods. The heartwood is typically a medium reddish brown, and the sapwood is a pale pinkish-yellow. Our cherry components are generally 25% sapwood and 75% heartwood. You can also view our cherry standards here.

Cherry is also a moderately heavy, hard, and strong wood, coming in at a 950 on the Janka hardness scale, equal to our soft maple. It features a straight grain that is easy to work with and has a fine, even texture. It can also be machined or sanded to a glass-like smoothness, giving it a beautiful finish and making it ideal for staining.

Alder is the common name for a genus of flowering plants belonging to the birch family, and is sourced from the Pacific Northwest. While it was not commonly known 20 years ago, it has become a highly sought-after wood with many different applications. It tends to be light tan to reddish brown in color and can darken or redden with age. Due to cherry’s similarity to alder in color, alder is often considered “poor man’s cherry” and can be used in similar applications without a similar price tag.

One thing to note about alder is that it is relatively low on the Janka hardness scale, coming in at a meager 590. It sands easily, however the wood is soft and may dent much easier than other wood types. The grain is also generally straight, with a somewhat fine, uniform texture. The rich tones allow for a staining similar to cherry, while the even texture makes this wood a great painting option.

At Osborne, we offer two variants of alder: clear alder (known simply as alder), and knotty alder (known as rustic alder). Our clear alder is a clean wood with an even texture, while our rustic alder is quite the opposite. Our rustic alder often features large split knots and open knots in a variety of sizes.

Rustic alder is an ideal wood type for builders looking for a naturally reddish wood that still offers a variety of knots, giving a piece a certain rustic character. If you’re interested in ordering our rustic alder but not sure about the knots, you can view our standards here, along with photos to demonstrate the knots we select for.

All of our wood types are sorted into a Traditional, Premium, or Specialty selection. You can find cherry under Traditional, alder under Premium, and rustic alder under Specialty.

Additionally, if you’re interested in a part that doesn’t normally come in one of these woods, you can contact us for a custom quote by filling out our online form, emailing, or calling 800-849-8876 and speaking with a representative today.

Check out the links below to read more in-depth about all the other wood types we offer:

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