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kebwi 02-01-2010 04:46 PM

Alder for less or Maple for more?
Given alder for one price and maple for another about 1/3rd more expensive ($150ish vs.$200ish) which would you use? I understand the maple is denser and should take less wood to get up to temperature, so the question is, which would ultimately work better "per dollar" at those relative prices?

The guy told me not to use his alder for an oven, to use his maple instead for the stated reason.

Wiley 02-02-2010 12:21 AM

Re: Alder for less or Maple for more?
As we're both in the Pacific Northwest we are talking about red alder and either big leaf maple or vine maple. I have burned both and frankly my perferred wood is red alder to fire my WFO. It burns hot and clean and I use it to get up to temp quickly. Our maple just isn't as hard or dense a wood as the eastern varieties. Another hobby of mine is letterpress printing and I can and do make end grain wood cuts using madrona, however, our maple just isn't hard/dense enough to be used for such.

I add madrona (called arbutus by our Canadian neighbors) or native cherry for a longer burn and to keep a flame/fire buring when making pizza. Madrona has also been called "chinese maple" and is closer in hardness to the eastern maples. If I had to buy my wood and if it were my decision, I would purchase the alder. Ask the seller if he can provide a mix of alder and either madrona or cherry. Those in my opinion would be a "best mix" for a WFO where we live.

That's my 2 cents. I have both on my land and this coming summer I will be taking down several cords worth of nice red alder in my pond site :-)

Hope this helps,

Neil2 02-05-2010 01:55 PM

Re: Alder for less or Maple for more?
"which would ultimately work better "per dollar" at those relative prices?"

They give the same British Thermal Units (BTU) by weight. Work out the cost per punnd and that is your best buy.

If they work out to about the same, note that the alder will be easier to split than the maple. You are going to be splitting all your wood down to pieces about 3 -4 sq inches on end.

"I add madrona (called arbutus by our Canadian neighbors)"

Arbutus is a bugger to split by hand. Like Willy, I find the red alder to be just fine. I use mostly alder or Douglas Fir.

kebwi 02-05-2010 06:40 PM

Re: Alder for less or Maple for more?
So, on a related topic, my neighbor and I started cutting down a frustrating maple that literally grows through the fence between our yards. It's one of those horrific Maples with about five to ten parallel shoots from the ground instead of one solid trunk. The very thickest of these trunks isn't more than five inches across. Everything else is three to four and even the fiver tapers down after several feet.

So, other than logging it up, do I need to split pieces that size or can I just ditch the pile of wood under a tarp and take it out next fall (or summer)?

Wiley 02-05-2010 11:30 PM

Re: Alder for less or Maple for more?
It'll dry quicker if you split the thicker pieces. And I would advise that you stack the wood on something like a pallet to keep it off the ground and get better airflow. It'll dry quicker and not compost the way wood stacked on bare ground tends to do.

The maple you describe sound like vine maple. Once summer comes don't be shy about pulling the tarp off and letting the wood bake in the sun.

Hope this helps,

kebwi 02-05-2010 11:42 PM

Re: Alder for less or Maple for more?
It's on palettes, albeit slightly disintegrated palettes. There might not be much left of them by the time I work through the pile. The wood won't get much sun, it's under a huge cedar (as is my driveway, what a mess)...but I'll take the tarp off an let it breathe.

Looks like a I need a small axe. I need one anyway. A lot of the wood I bought is in pretty big chunks.


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