Many woodworkers and professionals widely prefer Baltic birch plywood for carpentry and cabinetry. Unlike most plywood varieties on the market, Baltic birch plywood does not contain any filler or softwood plies in the middle. Moreover, the density of plies used per unit length is higher, bonded in layers of 1mm thickness with a strong glue, making Baltic birch plywood durable and very strong. Because of the consistency of its layers and lack of voids, the strength, and uniformity of Baltic birch make it very easy to work with compared to most plywood varieties. The appearance of the wood itself is sharp with a light color and very few flaws, making it an attractive material for cabinets for its visual effect alone. Whether you are a carpenter from Alameda, Santa Clarita, Glendale, or Burbank, or a woodworker from Torrance, Monterey Park, or anywhere in Southern California, Baltic Birch is a plywood you might like to consider. However, as discussed further in this article, its beautiful appearance is just one of the qualities that make it an excellent choice.
Baltic Birch Origins and Grading
Baltic birch trees grow in northeastern Europe around the Baltic Sea. The top producers of Baltic birch are Russia and Finland. It is one of the preferred plywood materials used by a particular well-known Swedish furniture manufacturer, but its versatility makes it very popular for other uses. Being one of the biggest producers of imported Baltic birch plywood, Russia has established the Baltic birch grading system, which grades the two outer faces of the plywood. According to their intergovernmental standard GOST 3916.1-96, the Russian grading systems are in single letters. For instance, if the grade is B/BB, which in GOST 3916.1-96 is designated as grade "II," one-piece (either the front or the back) is clearer with a lighter tone, while the other side has some stains or patches. The plies are always solid in this grade of plywood.
The Six Reasons Why Baltic Birch Plywood Is an Excellent Choice for Carpentry
As with most plywoods, Baltic birch is an excellent exterior material for cabinets and furniture. Baltic birch can also be used for interior trims, and other versatile applications such as a glue rack, bookcase, or table saw crosscut sled. Because of its unique and high-quality constitution of 1 mm-thick cross-banded solid birch veneer laminated by very strong glue, it is a good choice for carpentry for thousands of other woodworking applications. Here are a few other reasons why:
Baltic Birch Has Cleaner Joinery
Because of the lack of voids in its core, you can make grooves along the edges of Baltic birch plywood to make slots for half-blind dovetail joints. The density and uniformity of the birch veneer layers of the core make it easy for the glue to bind. Aside from dovetail joints, you can also make rabbets, dadoes, miters, and fingers that are strong and attractive-looking as well.
Baltic Birch Holds Screws Very Well
Traditional veneers have voids or are made of a softer material, making it so that screws do not hold on to the material as well. MDF has a uniform core but softer core which doesn't make it hold screws as well as Baltic birch. Unlike most plywood varieties, the density, lack of voids, and uniformity of the veneers in the Baltic birch's core make it hold 100% of the threads of screws bite and hold firmly.
The Sides and Edges of Baltic Birch Have an Attractive Appearance
One of the most noticeable traits of Baltic birch is its attractive face surface. The light color appearance of its faces provides it with a pleasing tone that works well with most interior spaces. Moreover, the edges, with their alternating dark and light lines, look attractive. If it works for your project, you may leave the edges exposed and simply apply sanding and finishing to smoothen them. You won't need to use edge tapes or solid edge banding.
Baltic Birch Is Very Stable and Strong For a Plywood
Even ½" or ¾" thick regular plywood is prone to warping and bowing. Baltic birch, on the other hand, is more robust and stable. Its alternating layers of densely packed veneers make each sheet of Baltic birch more stable and it stays flat better than regular plywood of the same thickness. However, like other plywood varieties, thinner sheets of Baltic birch, such as ⅛" and ¼," won't stay flat. This shouldn’t pose a problem because sheets of plywood at this thickness are usually for cabinet backs and drawer bottoms where rabbets and dadoes will help keep the shape of these areas intact.
The Baltic Birch Face Takes Glue and Stains Easily
Though the natural appearance of its surface generally appeals to most people, you may opt to place a paper-back veneer over it if you want to maximize the other attributes of Baltic birch while having a different outer face. There may be oval patches or mineral streaks on the surface that you want to patch over. However, make sure to place veneers on both sides of the plywood to maintain its stability.
The surface of Baltic birch also stains and takes oil very well. Walrus Oil products such as the Walrus Oil Furniture Butter or Walrus Oil Furniture Finish can enhance its appearance.
The Face Veneer of Baltic Birch Is Thicker and Better Quality Than Regular Plywood
You will notice that, among alternating veneer patterns, Baltic birch plywood's outer-surface veneer is thicker than most regular plywood varieties. The thinner outer-surface veneer of traditional plywood is more easily damaged and susceptible to sand-through than that of Baltic birch.
The quality and versatility of Baltic birch make it a desirable plywood choice for a broad range of applications. Its qualities make it easy to work with while enabling the woodworker to produce durable and beautiful pieces of furniture that can fit most interiors. For houses in Pasadena, Long Beach, and Downey, The variety of Baltic birch plywood available in our lumber yard in Los Angeles is mainly raw in most sizes. Even the shop-grade Baltic birch plywood has minimal splinters or rough edges, making it a more affordable alternative for carpentry applications such as the inner surfaces of cabinets. We also have wood products like furniture oil and finishes available in our lumber yard to make your Baltic birch furniture waterproof and even lovelier. For more information about the availability of Baltic birch plywood for your next woodworking project, call us at (323) 263-9361 or contact us.