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Exploitation of small-diameter alder

Exploitation of the working properties and utilisation of small-diameter Irish-grown alder (Alnus glutinosa) - RMIS project 0392

Background

In Ireland approximately 95% of hardwoods used in the furniture and woodworking industries is imported. There is however a significant amount of broadleaf plantations from which small-diameter thinnings can be harvested. Much of that material is currently directed to the firewood market, negating any added-value potential which could be realised through markets for better quality material. There is potential to reduce reliance on imported hardwoods through the use of advances made in the processing of small diameter hardwood logs and in the development of innovative uses for small-sized sawn hardwoods.

Example samples of alder second thinnings

Project

This 34-month Teagasc-funded project, partnered with GMIT Letterfrack, will establish the characteristics, properties and utilisation potential of small-diameter (20 – 30 cm) Irish-grown alder (Alnus glutinosa) with the aim of supporting woodland owners in developing new markets for timber and small enterprises wishing to use Irish timber. It is anticipated that the findings may have wider application to other species and to larger diameter material and will also close the knowledge gap existing between woodland owners and their potential markets. In order to establish what other markets exist for this material, opportunities to add-value and establish new utilisation potential of alder will be explored by establishing the working and finishing properties and investigating innovative uses.

The research project will establish the working properties of alder in relation to:

  • Conversion
  • Seasoning / kiln drying
  • Processing (planing, sanding, etc.)
  • Nailing /Screwing
  • Bonding
  • Finishing

Example samples of alder second thinnings

Outcomes

Outcomes will include developing product prototypes and resources designed on the basis of maximising the utilisation potential of the species.

Project team

  • Dr Ian Short, Teagasc
  • Dermot O’Donovan, Head of Centre, National Centre of Excellence for Furniture Design and Wood Technology, GMIT Letterfrack. Dermot.ODonovan@gmit.ie
  • Sean Garvey, National Centre of Excellence for Furniture Design and Wood Technology, GMIT Letterfrack. Sean.Garvey@gmit.ie
  • Kevin Maye, National Centre of Excellence for Furniture Design and Wood Technology, GMIT Letterfrack. Kevin.Maye@gmit.ie
  • M.Sc. Walsh Fellow (to be appointed)