Baltic Birch, also known as Russian Birch, is sold in different grades, sizes, and qualities, like any other natural wood materials. This wood type has higher quality than regular plywood but finding one suitable for your project can be challenging.
To determine how and where you can utilize Baltic Birch plywood, our resident woodworkers put all the data you’ll need in this brief guide.
About Baltic Birch: Origin, Manufacturing, Characteristics
Although it’s commonly manufactured in Northeastern Europe’s Baltic region, this Birch plywood species originated in Russia and Finland. Most plywood under this category is sold as a one-piece wood veneer for every ply.
Besides its attractive appearance, it offers superior strength and a top-grade surface without glue pockets. This hardwood also has plies that are cross-banded.
It means that the grain direction alternates and is firmly glued together with a glue product for inner plies.
Baltic Birch Nominal Sizes
|Baltic Birch Thickness||No. of Ply/Layer||12” X 24”||12” X 20”||12” X 12”|
|01-Aug||3-ply||11-7/8″ x 23-7/8″||11-7/8″ x 19-7/8″||11-7/8″ x 11-7/8″|
|01-Apr||5-ply||11-13/16″ x 23-13/16″||11-13/16″ x 19-13/16″||11-13/16″ x 11-13/16″|
|03-Aug||7-ply||11-7/8″ x 23-7/8″||11-7/8″ x 19-7/8″||11-7/8″ x 11-7/8″|
|01-Feb||9-ply||11-13/16″ x 23-13/16″||11-13/16″ x 19-13/16″||11-13/16″ x 11-13/16″|
|05-Aug||11-ply||11-7/8″ x 23-7/8″||11-7/8″ x 19-7/8″||11-7/8″ x 11-7/8″|
|13-ply||11-13/16″ x 23-13/16″||11-13/16″ x 19-13/16″||11 13/16″ x 11 13/16″|
Plywood Grades of Baltic Birch
Unlike other plywood sheets, this Birch plywood from Russia and the Baltic states isn’t measured with ANSI grading standards . Its smoothness, thickness, and other qualities are graded based on the Russian intergovernmental standard GOST 3916.1-96.
When you see this grading label, you’re handling a flawless Birch plywood veneer with a nearly perfect and smooth texture. It’s also occasionally called the grade “E” Baltic Birch, but the problem is it’s no longer available in the market.
The face of this plywood veneer is often light with an even color grain. You’ll spot slightly pinned knots and brown strips on the plywood veneers, but the surface is free of patches.
Despite the occasional knots on its surface, the B/BB Baltic Birch is lighter with more solid plies than other plywood sheets graded below its rating. Manufacturers cover open knot defects in the B/BB plywood sheet with tiny circular patches.
If your Birch plywood is graded under BB/BB grade, you should know that its front and back formats are made of a single veneer.
Both veneers are prone to mineral streaks and patches, but the good news is the BB/BB sheet’s core has a solid veneer.
The BB grades stand for the plywood’s face veneer, which our team discussed earlier. Meanwhile, the back veneer of the sheet has a CP rating that indicates open flaws, knots, and other fixes.
It’s a one-piece solid veneer, so the wooden stock with this grade is often similar to BB-graded plywood materials. However, these sheets have occasional thin splits of around .5mm, mineral strips, and circular patches with different colors.
It’s a Birch plywood with no restrictions, so both sides of the stock can have unlimited splits, patches, etc. And since all sides are clear, you can use this Baltic Birch for lamination.
Birch plywood products under C-grade are the ones you wouldn’t want to use for an exposed furniture part or decorative cabinetry because they have obvious defects.
Besides repairs and splits, a Baltic Birch material with C/C grades has tiny voids and no sand. Because of this, they work well for framing and construction purposes.
Baltic Birch Wood Projects and Uses
As long as you have large sheets of Baltic Birch, you can make cabinets, shelves, and drawers for your home.
(You might want to know how much a sheet of plywood costs to determine your budget.)
If you ask our resident DIYers, we don’t doubt that its lighter weight and aesthetically pleasing appearance will suit home decorations and crafts perfectly.
As discussed, Baltic Birch has a smooth attribute. Due to this, you can use it as a material in workshop projects like roof ceilings and floorings. It’s stable and long-lasting plywood, so we highly recommend its usage for interior and furniture construction.
You may not know, but the material’s thickness is dense enough to be cut by a laser for engraving purposes.
It’s also thin and wide enough to lay flat on the work table as you make a jointer jig for table saws or frame. We suggest using tape to maintain its flat position during the process.
Why is Baltic Birch an Ideal Plywood for Woodworking?
Clear and Accurate Joinery
This material has enough rigidness and strength to create accurate and strong wood joinery. It has lower chances of chipping or having voids, making it a reliable material for cleaner joints.
Stability and Strength
This plywood is often made of one durable piece of Birch veneers, so it’s strong enough to go against warping. It doesn’t mean nullifying warping effects over time, but this material has more stability than solid hardwood.
Excellent Screw Holding Capability
It’s a material constructed with hard layers and a core without voids, so it’s easy to drive and sink screws into its surface with utmost stability.
Reasonable Quality with Thicker Face Veneer
Although the material thickness depends on your purchase’s size, you should know that Baltic Birch has a thicker external veneer. Thanks to this, the material is damage-resistant and can’t be easily sanded.
These wooden stocks have uniform grains and smooth surfaces that every woodworker can’t ignore, especially for decorative outputs. On top of that, they are made with light colors that easily please the eyes. Besides, staining birch plywood furniture is doable, so you can alter its color according to your liking.
Ideal for Engraving and Laser Cutting
As mentioned a while ago, Baltic Birch can lay perfectly flat for engraving and laser cutting. In fact, even its ¼-inch and ⅛-inch variations can maintain stability during the process more than other hardwoods.
Project Versatility (Allows Back Paper Veneer)
As a material with a visually pleasing surface and solid strength, you won’t go wrong using it in various tasks like joinery, cabinetry, interior designing, etc. It also allows paper back veneer, so that’s a plus for decorative purposes.
Interesting Read: Ideal Plywood Types to Use for Cabinets
Picking the next Baltic Birch plywood board on the shelves may seem easy, but our team reminds you that not all of them have attributes suitable for different constructions and tasks.
Remember to consider the project requirements before deciding anything else. After all, you have many reasons to use this material since it offers great durability, screw-holding strength, and stability.
- Skilsaw SPT77WML-01 Review — A Top-Rated Wormdrive Circular Saw (2023) - March 27, 2023
- DeWalt DWS779 Review — Is it a Good Compound Miter Saw? (2023) - March 27, 2023
- DeWalt DCS571B Review — Is this Atomic Mini Circular Saw Good? (2023) - March 27, 2023