Baltic Birch Plywood Columbia Forest Products 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.

Baltic Birch Plywood

Baltic Birch Plywood Columbia Forest Products 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.

Over the last few months, I’ve whittled up a healthy number of Baltic birch sheets to build a wide array of projects. A router table and fence, several drawer boxes, a craft table.

In the same months, I’ve seen my colleagues use Baltic birch to make a table saw cross cut sled, a glue rack, a bookcase. The uses for Baltic birch are seemingly endless and the reasons why become apparent when you see what makes Baltic birch unique.

To start, Baltic birch is a plywood product native to the northeastern region of Europe around the Baltic Sea. It’s manufactured for European cabinetmaking. This begins to explain the product’s odd sheet size of 5’x5′ (more about this at bottom).

But here is the more important part.

Baltic birch’s core is unlike traditional plywood you may be used to seeing: the layers of inner plies are about 1 mm-thick solid birch veneer, cross-banded, and laminated with strong adhesive. It’s a recipe that results in a void-free core with a number of advantages, which is why in the U.S. we’ve discovered that the material is fantastic for thousands of projects in woodworking.

See all Baltic Birch products sold by Woodworkers Source >>>

7 Reasons Why Baltic Birch Is a Preferable Plywood

1. Superior Screw Holding

Because the core layers of Baltic birch are actually veneers of birch (rather than a softer, secondary wood)  and form a void-free core, screws bite and hold with 100% of their threads. Conversely, traditional veneer core plywood has voids and is also made up of softer materials so screws don’t get a chance to clench the best they can. You also might find sheet goods made with MDF (medium-density fiberboard) core, and though it’s 100% solid, MDF is soft and just doesn’t have the screw-holding power of Baltic birch.Solid joinery like half-blind dovetail joints are not only possible with Baltic birch, but they look good too.

Solid joinery like half-blind dovetail joints are not only possible with Baltic birch, but they look good too.

2. Cleaner Joinery

Tipping the hat once again to the uniform birch veneer layers of the core, you’ll get clean dadoes, rabbets, dovetails, miters, and fingers for strong and, when appropriate, great looking joints. Because the core is free of voids, your joinery also won’t suffer from glue starvation—they’ll get 100% glue coverage. Anything you build out of Baltic birch should last a good, long time.

3. Improved Strength and Stability

All plywood runs the risk of warping, and the most common type of warp in plywood is bowing. Baltic birch is not immune, it’s still a wood product. However, Baltic birch has the odds stacked in its favor much better than other plywood, chiefly in 1/2″ and 3/4″ thickness. The cross-banded layers of 1.5 mm thick birch veneer makes the sheets balanced, which promises a flatter product.

Colorfin (Koskisen - KoskiDecor) at Roberts Plywood - YouTube

However the thinner sheets, like 1/8″ and 1/4″, simply will not remain flat in large pieces—and this is no surprise. That’s usually not a problem though because these are usually used in applications like drawer bottoms and cabinet backs where they’re cut down to smaller sizes or captured in dadoes and rabbets. It should be obvious that the thicker sheets are more stable because they have more plies. 3/4″ Baltic birch in particular won’t change much in width or length, that’s why it’s great for jigs and fixtures that need to maintain accuracy over the years.

Baltic birch edges don’t look too bad when shaped, sanded and finished.

4. Attractive Appearance

One of the fortunate benefits to Baltic birch, too, is that you can leave the edges exposed if you like the look. Because the core is free of voids and all birch, the exposed edges sometimes have an appearance that works for the project, and this saves you time and material—no need to spend time and effort on applying edge tape or solid edge banding unless you want to. Simply sand and finish the edges as they are.

The face and back can be stained when you need a different color. Like solid birch lumber, for it to stain evenly with an oil-based pigment stain you’ll need to apply a stain controller or a wash coat of de-waxed shellac. Otherwise use dye for even color. To keep the uniform, light color instead, simply finish Baltic birch with a basic clear top coat of lacquer or polyurethane.

What is Koskisen? - Blog - CaraGreen

5. Thicker Face Veneer with Reasonable Quality

With close inspection of Baltic birch, you should notice that the face and back veneers are remarkably thicker than the veneers you’ll see on traditional cabinet-grade plywood. Sadly, it’s well-known that cabinet grade plywood veneer faces are dismally thin, which makes them easy to damage and easy to sand through. But not so with Baltic birch. Outer veneers are nice and thick. 

As for the appearance, there are several grades of Baltic birch available, but we most often carry the second-highest grade which is BB/BB.  BB/BB means both the face and the back veneers are single piece veneers with no splices. Both face and back veneers can have up to 6 small color-matched patches (egg-sized footballs or another shape), some light mineral streaks, or tight pin knots. 

6. Accepts Paper Back Veneer for More Decorative Projects

If you like everything about Baltic birch except its outer birch appearance (or occasional “football” patches), no problem. You can face this plywood with any kind of beautiful wood veneer. Be sure to veneer both sides to maintain its stability.

Guggenheim's Clever Baltic Birch Tables and Chairs - Improvised Life

7. It’s Just the Thing for Laser Cutting and Engraving

It’s one of the few types of wood that can come in large enough sheets and yet be consistently dense through its thickness to be cut with a laser. Anything from parts for architectural models to artwork to schmaltzy engraved knick-knacks.

The downside is that 1/8″ and 1/4″ thick Baltic birch can’t stay perfectly flat. It does cup or warp. It’s not because it’s bad plywood but just an effect of the size. It’s thin and wide. Not a good combo for getting wood to lay flat.

So what do you do? Make a frame or jig that presses it flat and fits your laser cutter. Sometimes all you need is to tape it down to a piece of MDF.

General Baltic Birch Grades:

What To Know: plywood is graded on the appearance of the face and back veneers only (not the core). The better side is called the face, the poorer side is called the back. These grades listed below read “face/back.”

baltic-birch-defects

B/BB: Single piece face and back veneer. Face veneers are considered clear and free of defects with a light-uniform color. Back allows 3-6 color matched patches, which are oval in shape and egg sized. Inner cores are solid birch single piece veneers.

BB/BB: Single piece face and back. Both face and back veneers allow 3-6 small color-matched patches on average and some light mineral streaks. Tight pin knots may be present. Inner cores are solid single piece veneers.

Baltic Birch Plywood Columbia Forest Products 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. 2021

BB/CP: Single piece face and back. The “CP” back veneers are downgraded from “BB” grade veneers, which allow for unlimited patches and sound knots, but does not allow for open defects. Inner cores are solid birch single piece veneers.

CP/CP: Single piece face and back. Face and back grade veneers allow unlimited sound knots and repaired splits and unlimited patches. The panel is sound both sides and designed for laminating.

C/C: Patches, open knots, and small veneer splits allowed. Veneer lap and small core voids permitted. This panel is not sanded and would be used for structural purposes.

Baltic Birch Plywood, Premium Russian Birch Plywood - Culver City

Patches in Baltic Birch

You’ll find several footballs, oval, or irregularly shaped patches on either side of the Baltic birch. Even the highest grade of Baltic birch allows for patches. While at first glance they might seem unsightly, they’re indeed correcting a worse problem that you wouldn’t like any better – such as knots or discoloration. Fortunately, patches are color matched, so they blend as best as they can to the surrounding areas.

About Baltic Birch Plywood

Baltic Birch Plywood

To put briefly Russian Baltic Birch Plywood is birch, and like other birches, it’s native to Europe where it’s harvested from, or the northeastern part of Europe somewhere around the Baltic sea to be precise, hence the name Baltic.
It’s regarded as being the ideal type due to its visual allure, durability, uniform face, and exceptionally well strength and stability. The plies of Baltic plywood are light in appearance.

Baltic Birch Plywood in Manufacture

From your home to your shop Russian Birch always comes handy in a wide array of uses due to its enormous ability to hold screws, strong shock resistance, and the attractive and stiffer appearance upon finishing.
Russian Birch Plywood Manufacturers can utilize the unique characteristics of Baltic Plywood in endless ways; a few are listed below:

  1. Baltic Plywood veneers are great for furniture making.
  2. Baltic Plywood is great for clamp racks, bookshelves, and various wooden stands.
  3. Its flexible nature is great for sliding skateboards.
  4. Easier to work on laser engraved products.

Why Baltic Plywood? Here Are Some Facts

Baltic Plywood

Now, without further ado, let’s get on with the reasons why Baltic Plywood is on the top of everyone’s list.

  1. Exceptional Screw Strength
  2. Cleaner Joints
  3. Enormous Stability
  4. Allows laser engraving and cutting
  5. Veneer Quality
  6. Can be stacked with other veneers
  7. Visual Allure
  8. Comparison with Finnish Birch

Exceptional Screw Strength

Core layers of Baltic Plywood are made from the distinct veneers (thin sheets of birch wood), each birch layer consisting of 3mm size, which makes a void-free core helping the screw bite with all wood threads, thus resulting in a stable, durable and visually pleasing sheet.

Baltic Birch Plywood Columbia Forest Products 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.

This uniform nature of Russian Baltic birch makes it less prone to shock damage and chipping and is one of the reasons why Baltic plywood is generally preferred over cheaper and softer veneers which are more prone to voids and can be easily damaged or sanded since screws when putting inside a traditional wood might run into the void hence there’s no wood thread for the screw to hold on to, the softer nature of the wood doesn’t guarantee long term placement of screws either.

Cleaner Joints

Baltic plywood joints

In relation to the void-free core, any product manufactured from Baltic plywood ends up with stronger and cleaner joints such as the dovetail and finger joint. Dados and Rabbets tend to do just well. Every bit of joint profiling of Russian birch is critical to woodworking. Each layer is consistently bonded and compressed with glue, which makes the product last longer, reduces the chances of delimitation, and provides a very good appearance to the edges as well.

Enormous Stability

Every wood product inevitably runs the risk of warping (disfiguring) such as bowing and bending from various parts; however, the manufacturing nature of Russian Baltic Birch lends a strong resistance towards such disfiguring.

Baltic Birch Plywood Columbia Forest Products 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. 2021

For Example, The layer plies of at least 1.5mm thickness always end up in balanced sheets, thus providing flatter surfaces. Although, the thinner plies, typically of 1/8″ and 1/4″ sizes, are venerable to warping if the product is a large piece of work.

Better use of joints can significantly reduce the chances of physical disfiguration as well. In Russian plywood, the consistent layers of glue combined with the plies contribute to great dimensional stability. Russian Birch contains more layers than traditional wood of the same thickness.
For Example, Traditional plywood might approximately have 5-7 layers per 3/4″ sheet while Baltic plywood of the same size will have 13 layers, therefore, contributing to greater stability and durability.

Allows Laser Engraving And Cutting

Plywood Laser Cutting

The extra thickness of Russian Baltic Birch’s large sheets makes it possible to be engraved by lasers and designed into any kind of product from structural projects to artwork.

As we discussed above, the thinner plies of 1/8″ and 1/4″ sizes don’t always stay flat; therefore, it is recommended that you use the thicker layers for laser cutting from before.

Veneer Quality

The veneers of a Russian Baltic Birch are significantly thicker than normal plywood, which are compacted close with waterproof glue (moisture resistant Urea Resin). This durable, uniform nature of Baltic plywood provides a strong resistance to damage when compared to other softer materials.

The face and back veneers are thicker than those on top and bottom. To provide a finishing touch, the entire sheet is then laminated in exterior grade adhesive to contribute to the quality of veneers, the adhesive greatly compliments the stability of the veneers. The whole material is entirely made up of birch plies, unlike other material which might contain softwood in the center.

StudioLP4, LLC - P. Lloyd Paul Architect & Photographer - Baltic Birch  Coffee Table

One of the standard BB/BB sizes is highly preferred for face, and black veneers, BB/BB (face back a grade) means that both the face and back veneers are single pieces of veneer without any additional splice being done on the surface.

Can Be Stacked With Other Veneers

Some people dislike the outer texture (football patches or any other shape such as ovals and pins) on the surface of face veneers of Russian Birch, however, they can be gotten rid of by facing them with additional veneers of different wood for decoration and the nature of Russian Baltic birch makes the process easier, as long the plies are of uniform thickness. Keep in mind to add veneer to both faces and back to maintain the balance.

Visual Allure

Baltic birch plywood line pattern

Russian Baltic Birch has a distinct and attractive line pattern on the edges, which is achieved through alternating the inner ply orientation when stacking. This beautiful pattern contributes to the popularity of Baltic plywood whenever exposed edges are desired.

The attractive edges of Russian Birch save people a lot of time and energy on projects which would otherwise be spent on additional work on the edges to make the product appear better. For additional color and texture improvement, the faces and backs can be easily stained by the use of oil-based pigments. Dyes work too.

Comparison with Finnish Birch

Russian Baltic Birch, when compared to Finnish birch, is enormously more suitable for indoor projects, the use of Urea Resin glue provides the plywood enormous moisture resistance.

The thickness of Russian Baltic Birch is measured in the metric system, and the most important part is that Russian Birch is less expensive then Finnish Birch, which in relevant cases, makes the Baltic plywood the ideal material to go for.

Standard Grades

Why Baltic Birch Plywood Is On Top Of Everyone’s List

Here are some standard grades for Baltic plywood veneers as established by the Russian government:

Baltic Birch Plywood Columbia Forest Products 3/4 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. 2021

  • B/BB: The grade for single back and face veneers without an additional splice. The face veneer is clear with minimum defects and uniform color while the back veneer is allowed to have 3-6 color patches (the egg-shaped textures or round).
  • BB/BB: The grade for single back and face veneers without an additional splice. Both the face and back veneer are allowed to 3-5 color patches, color defects, and pin knots.
  • BB/CP: The grade for single back and face veneers without an additional splice. The face veneer is clear with minimum defects and uniform color while the back veneer (CP) has unlimited color patches and knots, although none have any open defects.
  • CP/CP: The grade for single back and face veneers without an additional splice. Both the back and face veneer (CP) have unlimited color patches and knots, although none have any open defects.

       *     C/C: Strictly used for structural purposes and allowed to have unlimited color patches and splits.

Is Russian Birch Plywood Good Enough? - IBUILDIT.CA

Is birch plywood the same as Baltic birch?

The first one’s easy to see: Baltic birch plywood has about twice the number of plays as birch plywood, and usually the Plys are made entirely of birch. … The veneer strata are thicker, and with fewer ply layers there are fewer glue layers. It’s not as stiff as Baltic birch, but it’s also not as heavy.

What is Baltic birch plywood used for?

The uses of Baltic Birch plywood are extensive, from recreational to practical to profitable. People commonly use this type of plywood to create art, decorations, crafts, objects for hobbies, and furniture, among thousands of other projects.

Is Baltic birch plywood expensive?

Baltic birch is more expensive than the regular grade stuff. So a sheet of ¾” thick Oak veneer plywood with a pine core, interior grade, from Lowes is about 35 US dollars where a similar sheet of 18mm Baltic Birch will run around 65 dollars.

Baltic Birch Plywood
Baltic Birch Plywood

Does Home Depot sell Baltic birch plywood?

Baltic Birch Project Panel-EGB-6/4x36x96 – The Home Depot. Please enter a valid ZIP Code.

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