When you hear so much about Baltic birch plywood, you may wonder why there is so much hype about it. Woodworkers prefer this variety of plywood to use in their projects because it is a durable and smart-looking choice of wood. It is easy to work with, and you get the cleanest joints with this type of plywood. It’s also a very popular choice of wood for Pyrography (the art of wood-burning), because of that often comes in small formats – pre-cut square pieces used for small woodworking projects for kids or wood craft projects to sell.
Baltic birch originally comes from the northeastern part of Europe around the Baltic Sea, nowadays you can get it all over the world. Although it originally began as a popular type of wood for cabinetry, we use it for a variety of applications today.
What makes this plywood so unique is the core of the Baltic birch tree. Baltic birch plywood normally has 1mm-thick inner plies with the layers crossbanded and stuck together with strong adhesive, unlike traditional plywood. This construction makes the plywood amazingly robust and a much-preferred choice among woodworkers.
The birch veneer layers are highly uniform in thickness, which results in plywood boards of consistent thickness. The result is void-free, stable plywood that is smart in appearance.
Even the edges of Baltic birch plywood present a uniformed striped pattern of the layers. Hence, even if you need the edges to show, it still looks good.
As mentioned above, Baltic birch plywood is relatively free from voids. You get different grades that demarcate the level of perfection. For instance, the highest grade is grade B/BB. It is read as “face/back grade.” Each letter signifies a certain number of defects that are permissible per unit area.
Benefits of Baltic Birch Plywood
Baltic birch plywood is tough, durable, and smart in appearance. But these are not the only qualities that make woodworkers prefer it so much. Here are some of the primary advantages of Baltic birch plywood:
Holds Screws and Nails Well
The plywood’s core layers consist of layers of natural birch veneer, with the combination of solid adhesive to bind the veneer results in an extremely tough and durable category of plywood. It results in nails and screws getting a better grip, even better than engineered wood like medium-density fiberboard (MDF).
Another clear advantage of using Baltic birch plywood is the clean joints you can make with it. The layers of the veneer that make the core are uniform and tight. This allows you to create clean dovetails, rabbets, dovetails, dadoes, miters and more due to a core that is free of voids. The glue will spread uniformly, so you get 100% glue coverage. Any joints in items made of Baltic birch plywood will last a long time.
High Durability and Strength
One of the risks that come with plywood is that of warping. The most standard form of warping in plywood is bowing. This can occur with Baltic birch plywood as well. However, the ½” and ¾” thickness with crossbanded layers of 1.5 mm thickness veneer gives the plywood an exceptional level of stability, giving you much flatter boards.
However, the thickness reduces to ¼” and 1/8”, you will not get as flat boards. But because the plywood of these thicknesses usually makes drawer bottoms and cabinet backs and sides, the plywood pieces’ small size will not show the curvature that much.
One of the best advantages of Baltic birch plywood is that the edges do not look ragged. You can leave the edges exposed with this plywood, and it still looks good. You save on time and material since you don’t have to put extra material like trim on the edges.
Staining and painting the face and back with different colors gives more scope to the things you can do with this plywood. You would have to use an oil-based pigmented stain in combination with a stain controller. Alternatively, you can apply a wash coat of de-waxed shellac or dye to get a uniform color. But with a basic top coat of polyurethane or lacquer, the results can be spectacular.
Face Veneer of Thicker Dimensions
A typical issue with most traditional plywood is the thin veneer faces, especially in cabinet-grade plywood. It results in the plywood being prone to damage while sanding it down. With Baltic birch plywood, the back and face veneers are significantly thicker. It adds to the durability of the material and increases the scope for a smoother machine finish.
If you are particular about the appearance of the plywood you procure, it comes in various grades. That way, you can choose the best quality, although it may come at a significantly high price and worth it in terms of good looks and durability.
Suitability for Laser Cutting and Engraving
The thickness of the backing and facing Baltic birch plywood makes it suitable to be cut with a laser. Hence, there is infinite scope to the number of different projects you can make from this plywood using laser cutting techniques.
Uses of Baltic Birch Plywood
Plywood itself is a versatile type of wood and finds use in many different woodworking and building construction areas. With Baltic birch plywood, because it is a more robust variety, it offers many more benefits.
We often use Baltic birch plywood for structural items such as cabinets, kitchen and bathroom counters, and furniture. Being an exterior grade of plywood, it is less prone to damage by water. It serves well in areas of moisture and humidity like kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.
Baltic birch plywood also machines very well and holds screws and nails firmly without splitting. It makes this plywood very versatile for use in joints like dovetail finger joints. This feature serves well when you have to assemble cabinets and various types of furniture. Baltic birch is suitable for making skateboards, speaker boxes, and the shell of custom trailers and recreational vehicles (RVs) because of its rigid core.
Baltic birch plywood can indeed be a versatile option for a woodworker. It is a readily available and cost-effective solution for making drawer boxes. You can join pieces of this plywood quickly by making custom dovetails and finger joints.
It also takes glue, screws, and nails well, so it joins well when excessive joinery is involved in your project. It also serves well for making various jigs and fixtures. In short, Baltic birch plywood is the solution to most woodworking projects. Hence, get Baltic birch plywood to create some unique woodworking items that will last a long time.