Baltic Birch Vs Birch Plywood – 3 Big Differences To Know
Birch plywood is a type of wooden board that is gaining more and more popularity, and that can only be encouraged. Birch plywood has some great advantages, such as strength in appearance and environmental benefits.
When you want to work with birch plywood, you will quickly notice that there are several options available: Baltic birch vs birch plywood. But which one should you choose, and what is the difference between Baltic birch and birch? Well, don’t think too much about it, because it’s actually very simple.
Baltic birch plywood is made out of numerous layers of 100% birch veneer with the same thickness .
Birch plywood has a very thin birch veneer on the bottom and top, with layers of pine or poplar in between, varying in thickness.
It also has voids which make it less strong than Baltic birch plywood.
I’ll take a closer look at Baltic birch vs. birch plywood to help you better grasp the differences between the two types, as well as their benefits and drawbacks. After reading this article, you will be better able to assess whether birchwood is the best choice for you and which type of plywood to choose: Baltic birch vs birch plywood.
|Features||Baltic birch plywood||Birch plywood|
|Veneer material||Birch||Pine, Poplar, …|
|Veneer thickness||All layers have the same thickness||Veneer thickness variate|
|Top layer||Birch veneer with the same thickness as all other layers||A thin layer of birch veneer|
|Bottom layer||Birch veneer with the same thickness as all other layers||A thin layer of birch veneer|
|Voids||Not present. Where there were voids, these are filled with veneer||Still present inside the plywood|
|Strength||Stronger type than birch plywood||Less strong than Baltic birch plywood|
|Usage||Making toys, furniture and aesthetic projects because of the nice looking line pattern||For building projects where the short side of the wood is not visible. Birch plywood gives the illusion of being Baltic birch plywood.|
|Price||Most expensive one of these two||A cheaper version because of the softwood core|
What is birch plywood
Birch plywood is a hardwood plywood made from birch trees (Betula spp.). Birch is peeled into thin, uniformly thick sheets and stacked crosswise at 90 degrees. Birch plywood is obtained by applying glue between the multiple layers and pressing them together.
Because each layer of birch veneer has the same thickness, it can be used to make durable, stable, and aesthetically pleasing plywood panels that are easy to work with.
All Birch plywood available worldwide is manufactured in only three primary source areas: North America, Northern Europe, and Northern Asia.
Do you want to dive deeper into the knowledge of plywood, then you should read my main article about this great building material. Go to my article Plywood 101: Understanding the Basics of This Versatile Material and discover all you need to know about plywood.
Baltic birch vs birch plywood
When people talk about Baltic birch vs birch plywood, it can be highly confusing. I’ve always assumed that these two types were the same when I first started woodworking all those years ago. When I noticed this wasn’t the same, I struggled for a while to figure out what the difference was, when the difference is actually very straightforward and easy to spot.
So, how do you tell the difference between birch plywood and Baltic birch plywood?
Baltic birch plywood has several thin layers that all consist of the same thickness and are made with birch veneer, which gives a nice appearance.
Birch plywood will have a very thin birch veneer on the outside and layers built up on the inside made of pine or poplar of irregular thicknesses, which is prone to voids.
Actually, birch plywood is a cheap solution that gives the illusion that it is Baltic birch plywood. As long as you do not have ends that are visually noticeable, you can use this type of plywood. However, if you like the aesthetic lines of birch plywood, then you should definitely go for the Baltic birch plywood.
Recap: The 3 big differences between Baltic birch vs birch plywood.
Of these 3 major differences, two are clearly visible, so you can quickly distinguish which type you are dealing with. The last difference in this list is one that is hidden on the inside of the wood.
Veneer thickness: Baltic birch plywood will always be made up of layers of veneer with all the same thicknesses. With Birch plywood, you will find layers with different thicknesses.
Veneer wood type: Baltic birch plywood consists of layers of birchwood. Birch plywood has only a veneer on the top and bottom, and layers of pine or poplar were used as filler in between. So in addition to a difference in thickness, you will also find a color difference.
Voids are more common in standard birch plywood. That means there are holes in the core of the plywood that stay unfilled in the layers after peeling off the veneer. The strength of the wood will be affected by these vacancies. There are extremely few cavities in Baltic birch. When cavities do occur, most wood providers will replace the cavity with an unbroken piece of wood using a piece of veneer. As a result, Baltic Birch will be more stable and stronger than its ordinary counterpart.
The next time you go to buy wood, now you will immediately know what kind of wood you have and what you can use it for based on appearance and strength. But keep reading, because there is more to tell about the Baltic birch plywood you need to know.
What is birch plywood used for
Birch plywood is a popular and widely used plywood. This is because of its aesthetic appearance and therefore has a variety of applications. Many people love to work with this kind of plywood because it is easy to cut and sand, yet it is still a strong type of plywood.
Birch plywood is commonly used for furniture manufacture, decorative walls, small construction projects, and also for certain vehicles and aircraft.
I myself use it for the same reason I described above for almost all jigs I made for my workshop. You can see the results here on my website or on my YouTube channel. I like the color and look of this type of wood, as well as that, once finished, the wood doesn’t splinter. If you want to build something for your workshop, this is the only material I will recommend you to use.
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Is birch plywood toxic
To determine the toxicity of birchwood, we must consider two factors. The wood and the glue that keeps the various layers together must be distinguished clearly.
Birchwood is a toxic wood, according to the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture. Toxicity symptoms range from moderate abdominal cramps to severe heart-related disorders when large pieces of birchwood enter the stomach.
This is also distinct from the birchwood type. Paper birch and European white birch wood, for example, will definitely induce fewer poisoning symptoms.
Then there is the glue that is used to make birch plywood. Sometimes internal wood glue or external wood glue is used for this. External glue is made on the basis of skin glue and is harmless. This is the same glue that is used to glue wood that comes into contact with foodstuffs. This is a topic discussed earlier in my article, Is Super Glue Food Safe? Read This First!
How do you recognize which glue was used
Birch plywood is not the kind of wood I would use outdoors because of its softness. Still, exterior wood glues are sometimes used when making birch plywood. This type of wood glue is more resistant to moisture and as you could read just now, it is harmless.
But how do you recognize which glue was used?
Well, it is very simple. All you have to do is look at the wood from the front and see if there is a black layer between the veneer layers.
If there is no black glue layer present and if it is just a nice smooth continuation between the layers, then internal glue has been used.
When a black glue layer is present, you know that external wood glue was used.
Since birchwood is only toxic if large parts are swallowed and if the glue used is external glue, this type of plywood can actually be considered safe. That is why many manufacturers of wooden toys or playground equipment also use this type of wood. I also used it to make a rocking horse for my godchild.
Birch plywood advantages and disadvantages
There are certain benefits to using Baltic birch plywood, but there are also some negatives, as with anything else. To help you decide if Baltic birch plywood is the correct choice for your project, I’ve listed the most essential benefits and downsides. If you want to know the best alternatives to birch plywood, I suggest you to click through to my article The 8 best Baltic Birch Plywood Alternatives you Should Consider.
Baltic birch plywood advantages
Aesthetic Appearance (Aesthetic Appearance):
Because of its straight grain and appealing pattern, birch plywood has a distinct appearance. Because of its lovely, deep sheen, this species of wood is ideal for household furnishings. It’s also simple to personalize birch plywood with wax stain or any other finish.
Baltic birch plywood is a sturdy material. A considerable amount of stability and strength is added to the plywood by layering numerous layers of birch on top of each other, each 90 degrees to the other.
Resistance to Decay:
Birchwood is a long-lasting wood. It has a high resistance to decay, which means it will last longer in your project.
There aren’t many knots in birch plywood. It is splinter-free and does not fracture or splinter. This is a benefit that furniture and toymakers like, and it’s also recognized as a wood type that may be used in child-friendly structures.
Birch trees are plentiful and rapidly growing species. This means that when birch trees are cut, no biodiversity is lost or disrupted. It is preferable to use this renewable energy source over others that may have a detrimental influence on the environment.
Baltic birch plywood Disadvantages
Birchwood isn’t the most expensive on the plywood list, but it certainly isn’t the cheapest. It is therefore recommended to look for an alternative if the wood is used in an invisible way in your projects, such as furniture.
Crack & Warp:
With severe fluctuations in humidity, birchwood will warp and crack. It is therefore not recommended to use birch plywood outdoors, even though the birch plywood is made with external glue, as you could discover earlier in this article. It is also known that when birch plywood is used indoors, the environment should also not be too dry, as this can cause the wood to shrink to such an extent that deformation can occur.
Susceptible to beetle:
Birchwood furniture is also prone to beetle, which will affect the life of the furniture.
Burn marks when cutting or milling:
Birch plywood is extremely sensitive to this. When cutting or milling, you must be very attentive and apply the correct actions so that no heat is built up between the saw blade or router bit and the wood. Because a lot can be said about the right techniques, I wrote articles before. I link them below. Be sure to read them if you want to work with Baltic birch plywood. Without the right techniques, you are guaranteed to have burn marks and there is a good chance that you will no longer be able to use the wood.
Why Is My Table Saw Burning Wood? (9 Reasons + Easy Fix)
Why Is My Router Bit Burning The Wood? (+ 3 Simple Fixes)
Baltic birch vs birch plywood – conclusion
As you could read in this article, the difference between Baltic birch vs birch plywood need not worry you because you cannot tell them apart. Now you know that simply by looking at the plywood layers, you can tell which type you have. Thanks to this article, you can now also better determine whether birch plywood or Baltic birch plywood is suitable for your project.
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