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Hickory and Alder Wood: Strength and Applications

Wood species as a material is widely used around the world in the furniture and construction industries. With a variety of wood species available in the market today, homeowners are having field days selecting the best wood to use in their projects.

Each wood species brings with it, distinct characteristics and properties that if well utilized will result in magnificent creations.

They are two of the many wood species that have set themselves apart with their exceptional workability and durability features.

Alder Vs Hickory: Alder Overview

Wood species

Alder wood is one of the most popular wood species in the Western USA. It is a hardwood although it sits on the softer side of the scale.

Its abundance on the west coast makes it quite cheap and readily available-almost every woodworker on this side has had an encounter with it.

Its appearance has earned it the “poor man’s cherry” nickname which likens it to cherry wood. Cherry and Alder share several characteristics which make them ideal for cabinet and desk making.

Alder Vs Hickory: Hickory Overview

You are most likely to come across hickory wood in flooring panels. It is undoubtedly one of the hardest wood species in the US. Hickory is available in both dark and light colors- this makes it suitable for detailed projects like office cabinetry.

Most users prefer to finish hickory works in clear stains despite its ability to take in different stain options without negating its strength or aesthetics. This multicolored hardwood grows in Eastern USA where its oversupply makes it the cheapest wood available.

Is hickory wood Strong?

With a compressive strength of 9,210 psi, hickory is arguably the strongest wood species in the world. Other wood types cannot match Hickory’s compressive and bending strengths. In a nutshell, hickory wood is strong, durable, and extremely hard.

Advantages Of Hickory Wood

Hickory boasts popularity around the world due to its superb workability features and long-term benefits. The benefits of hickory wood fall in two major classifications; aesthetics and durability.


Hickory’s appearance is one of its major selling points-most people prefer it over others due to its light reflection capabilities. When well waxed, hickory will easily add to your home’s elegance and warmth.

Availed in numerous forms including planks and laminates, hickory is the good-looking and yet strong wood your new project needs.


Floors bear the most abuse-human load, liquid splashes, mud, and sunlight. You can’t have flimsy and brittle panels on your floor; you need the strongest wood you can get. Hickory’s bending and compressive strengths make it the most suitable wood option for floors and other areas with high strength needs.

Disadvantages Of Hickory Wood

Like all other superb products in every market, hickory wood has its fair share of disadvantages. Due to different applications, users’ experience with this wood is subjective.

Aesthetic Deficiencies

As you settle for hickory wood because of its aesthetic appeal, keep in mind the fact that scuff marks tend to shine in light shade wood. Things get worse if your home is plagued by high traffic-the good looks will prove to be a disadvantage. To curb the scuff marks issue, you can use wider boards.


Wood species are operating on a tight budget then hickory will prove daunting. This East coast wood might not be as pricey as rosewood and walnut but the numbers can be discouraging. To some previous consumers, hickory’s long-term benefits do not compensate for the high purchase costs. The availability of cheaper options pushes buyers even further away from the hickory shelf.


Hickory’s installation process is painstaking and if not well done can result in lifelong deformations like warping. The wood is easily affected by climate change and will warp if the shift is too sudden. To prevent such an occurrence, experts advise that you let the wood conform to the new climate before installation.

Application Of Hickory Wood

Hickory is the perfect embodiment of versatility and endurance. The wood is used in practically every wood project except for a few like on chopping boards due to its hardness. Other areas where hickory serves perfectly include;

  • Floor works
  • Construction projects
  • Handles
  • Cabinetry
  • Walking sticks
  • Office shelves

Is Alder Wood Strong?

Alder is a pretty strong hardwood although its bending strength has been questioned multiple times. The poor bending strength compared to other hardwoods in its class can be attributed to its medium density. With a compressive strength as high as 5,820 psi and bending strength of 9,800 psi, alder wood is only suitable for less load-bearing projects and furniture work.

Advantages of alder wood

Alder might not be usable in heavy construction sites but in interior design settings, this wood does wonders. Its color absorption properties make it ideal for office and kitchen cabinets among other areas.

Internal Framing

Alder’s weight and strength coupled with its low costs offer a perfect material for internal framing. Other wood species cannot match alder’s structural integrity hence the need to reinforce them with the east coast wood to prevent warping and twisting.

Easy To Mold

Molding work calls for straight and relatively soft wood-alder offer this and more.  With a sharp knife and some skills, you’ll carve out some impressive moldings out of alder wood. Responds Well To Finish Paints With its deep and exposed pores, alder easily absorbs even the lightest film of paint.

Alder looks just fine without any extra finishing but a little staining will harm no one. As the finish material sinks into the pores, it hardens and blends in quite well with the wood.

Disadvantages Of Alder Wood 

Wood species

Some of alder wood’s most prevalent deficiencies include;


Alder might be appealing at first sight but its softness is a cause for concern. If your project specifications require a really hard wood then other harder options like cherry would serve the purpose better.

Durability Concerns

Wood species the long run, alder is not as reliable as we would want it to be. As the years go by, the wood loses its authentic look-if you can afford it, get something more durable. 

Alder Wood Application

  • Alder wood is used in among other areas;
  • Furniture work
  • Light woodworks
  • Guitars
  • Doors and windows
  • Artworks
  • Milling

Bottom Line

Wood is a major component in any construction and interior design project. Its durability and workability features make it the go-to material for many home designers.

Wood species like hickory and alder have set themselves apart as excellent wood types with their finished products saying it all. Each of the two has distinct characteristics which make it suitable for the specific works-the article above sums it all up.