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Paul in the woods

Alder for floorboards

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I have plenty of small diameter alder trees to log and I need some floorboards so...

 

Has anyone used alder for floorboards? I am aware that although a hardwood alder is soft but the boards would be for a bedroom so should be ok.

 

I'm considering narrow boards, 100mm or less, as I think these will easier to mill, season and lay and be more tolerant to warping etc.

 

Now, how best to cut the boards to reduce warping? I've found alder seasons quickly so would it be possible to leave the timber in the round for a year before milling? I had also considered cutting into thick planks/beams to season and then cutting planks of them later. I.e. cutting a 90mm beam and then slicing my 90mm wide planks off it.

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I can't see any particular problem. Although alder is soft, it isn't much if any softer than spruce which is often found as floorboards and holds up well enough so long as you want to have 'character' rather than perfect, unmarked boards.

 

If you have the material, I would look to go slightly wider than 100mm - more like 125 or 150 if you can. It will soon add up to save a lot of nailing and gap filling. They don't all need to be the same width - if you can span the room, go with whatever you can get out; otherwise I would pick a couple of widths and make everything one or the other - we did this and it is a lot more efficient of on timber.

 

I would through-and-through saw, as much of the log as was wide enough, although take out the core and if possible enough of the centre to lose major knots from side branches as they grew, then stack high enough to minimise cupping. Once dry, I would edge up to take as much of the cupping out as possible. I would allow about a quarter of an inch over thickness - this might only let you get one face perfect on planing, but that's all you need. We had no problems with this when making 6" average width x 1" thick boards.

 

Alec

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Get some preservative on it or it'll be a magnet for woodworm.

 

And with all the wildlife where we are we'd have a couple of woodpeckers in after the worm. :lol:

 

Thanks for the warning, I did know alder is susceptible to worm and I'm looking at preservatives. Ideally I want something that's not too toxic as it's for a bedroom floor.

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If you have the material, I would look to go slightly wider than 100mm - more like 125 or 150 if you can. It will soon add up to save a lot of nailing and gap filling. They don't all need to be the same width - if you can span the room, go with whatever you can get out; otherwise I would pick a couple of widths and make everything one or the other - we did this and it is a lot more efficient of on timber.

 

I was actually thinking of going down to 85mm or so so I could slice the boards off a beam on a bench saw.

 

I don't mind gaps or time spent nailing to be honest, it's a replacement for a chip boarded modern floor so not drafty.

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Unless your house floods on a regular basis I would probably use another timber!

Although the tree has a wide distribution throughout Europe, and is commonly found near wet areas such as ponds and marshes, Alder has not been used very commonly for lumber or woodworking purposes.

One historical use where the timber has been employed comes from an unlikely source: for despite its poor durability above ground, (where it quickly rots and decays), Alder is quite durable underwater, and has been used for piles and supports: most notably throughout the city of Venice, Italy.

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These flower heads were turned from a snaffled branch overhanging my boundary ditch. Turned green it was like being in a rain shower with all the water held in the wood. Dried out fine though. :thumbup1:

20141209_164855.jpg.13f8d15c3a2167214bf5c647d6e20aae.jpg

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Unless your house floods on a regular basis I would probably use another timber!

 

The durability issue is mainly with regard to outdoor use isn't it? You can buy alder floorboards and I know alder is used for various things as my OH has a spinning wheel made out of alder and I've carved a few pieces from it.

 

I know its a very wet wood though, hence my concerns about it moving about while seasoning.

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