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Baltic Birch plywood

by MrRon
posted 831 days ago


39 replies so far

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bondogaposis

2439 posts in 947 days


#1 posted 831 days ago

I wish my Lowe’s sold Baltic Birch.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View bruc101's profile

bruc101

555 posts in 2138 days


#2 posted 831 days ago

3/4” Domestic and China made ply is actually 11/16” thick. We use 1/2” And 1/4” Baltic Birch on occasion and it’s always true to it’s dimensions….1/2” and 1/4”.
I’ve never seen Baltic Birch ply in a big box store.

-- Bruce http://plans.sawmillvalley.org http://www.sawmillgirls.com

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

1243 posts in 853 days


#3 posted 831 days ago

I wish my Lowe’s sold Baltic Birch.

No you don’t. Can you say potato chip? :D

-- Art

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2163 posts in 1446 days


#4 posted 831 days ago

Was this 4×8 or 5×5 material?

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

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GaryL

1074 posts in 1427 days


#5 posted 831 days ago

I’m with Lee on this one. If it’s not 5×5 more than likely it’s not BB. The label “Baltic Birch” is being overused as much as “Amish Made”.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View doughan's profile

doughan

96 posts in 1187 days


#6 posted 831 days ago

lowes sucks

View bruc101's profile

bruc101

555 posts in 2138 days


#7 posted 831 days ago

Up until a year ago 5×5 Baltic Birch is all we could buy. Now we have a couple of vendors that carry it in the 4×8 size. The price almost doubles for the 4×8 foot sheets over the price of the 5×5 sheets.

-- Bruce http://plans.sawmillvalley.org http://www.sawmillgirls.com

View mloy365's profile

mloy365

429 posts in 1726 days


#8 posted 831 days ago

Lee and Gary are both right. I don’t know what that stuff is that they sell at Lowes, Menards etc…..?

-- Mike - Northern Upper Michigan

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2163 posts in 1446 days


#9 posted 831 days ago

I have seen the Chinese 4×8 faux Baltic, but not the real thing. Turns out, thanks Bruce, it is getting more common. There is a good FAQ column here.

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View bruc101's profile

bruc101

555 posts in 2138 days


#10 posted 831 days ago

On one of our trips back to Russia visiting my wife’s family we drove by a plywood factory when out and about one day. She’s from a large city in Siberia. It never crossed my mind to go for a visit and watch them make BB plywood.
When we return for a visit this summer I’ll be sure to make a trip there, get a tour and take some photos and a video and do a show and tell here on LJ.

-- Bruce http://plans.sawmillvalley.org http://www.sawmillgirls.com

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bruc101

555 posts in 2138 days


#11 posted 831 days ago

Small Birch Trees in Russia. Photo taken from a train in the Kostroma area in Russia.

-- Bruce http://plans.sawmillvalley.org http://www.sawmillgirls.com

View Grandpa's profile

Grandpa

3043 posts in 1272 days


#12 posted 831 days ago

I have bought Varsity Birch but never at Lowes or HD. I get it from a local home owned business. I haven’;t bought any lately so I am not sure if the quality has changed.

View bruc101's profile

bruc101

555 posts in 2138 days


#13 posted 831 days ago

I would suggest leaving the big box stores alone. Find you a cabinet shop in your area and ask where they buy their lumber and plywood from.
Most wholesale vendors also sell retail to woodworkers. Sometimes you can get much better deals through a local vendor than trying to order online and you can see what you’re buying. Pick it up yourself and forget the shipping charges,
I saw an online vendor selling soft maple for over $4.00 a brd ft. I’ve never paid over $2.00 a brd foot for the best soft maple on the market. I also pay about the same price for beautiful curly maple.
Last year I bought curly maple and common cherry for $1.00 a brd ft because my vendor had a huge stock of it.
Monday I have to order some 10 inch and wider popular…$1.48 a brd ft.

-- Bruce http://plans.sawmillvalley.org http://www.sawmillgirls.com

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile

FirehouseWoodworking

622 posts in 1869 days


#14 posted 831 days ago

There is a product available in 4×8 sheets that is basically Baltic Birch but with a phonellic (sp?) resin on both faces. The stuff we use is called FinForm. It is used for shoring and concrete forming. We use it in Trench Rescue training. Stuff runs about $150 a sheet, USED!

Absolutely flat. 13-ply Baltic Birch. No voids. Heavy as all getout. There is also another brand out there but I don’t recall the name.

You can order it through lumber yards and specialty stores. Even Lowes can special order it. We get ours (used) from United Rentals.

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1519 days


#15 posted 831 days ago

Bruce, wish I knew who your vendor was. Those prices are 1/2 of what I pay at least.
I see HD and Lowes with birch ply but have never seen baltic birch at one of them.

-- Life is good.

View bluekingfisher's profile

bluekingfisher

989 posts in 1576 days


#16 posted 831 days ago

Here in the Uk Baltic Birch (Made in Finland) the sheets only come in 8×4’ or 2440×1220mm if you ask for it in metric. Continental Europe has has the metric scale for, well since Jesus was an apprentice but the UK has stubbornly held onto the English imperial scale in many areas.

I need to buy a sheet of 13ply 18mm Baltic this weekend. I was quoted £62.14 + tax for the 8×4’ x 18mm sheet (an example of how we still use imperial and metric )

I have never seen it in 5×5 sheets here, not to say that it doesn’t exist, perhaps it does for the trade?

-- No one plans to fail, they just, just fail to plan

View Dark_Lightning's profile

Dark_Lightning

1667 posts in 1705 days


#17 posted 831 days ago

Most hardwood stores here in sunny Cal carry BB in 5’X5’ sheets, from 1/4” to 3/4”. I used to work for a defense contractor that makes airplanes. We had BB in 10’X5’ sheets to make sections and complete models of aircraft.

.682 is less than 11/16”. That’s pretty much a cheat, as far as I’m concerned.

View Domer's profile

Domer

240 posts in 1962 days


#18 posted 831 days ago

I try to never buy plywood from the big box stores as it almost always the cheap Chinese stuff which is inconsistent in size and full of voids but it is less expensive. We have a local wholesaler who will sell to individuals and I buy any plywood from them. Our local Woodcraft carries the 5×5 Baltic Birch as well and is a good quality.

Domer

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2716 posts in 1840 days


#19 posted 831 days ago

I’m thinking the BB I bought at lowes was actually Birch ply, not Baltic. True BB, I believe comes from Scandanavian countries in 5’x5’ sheets. I used to find it in local lumber yards, but the stuff I bought was cut from a 4’x8’ sheet in sizes of 2’x2’ and 2’x4’. Actual size of the 2×4 piece I bought was actually 23-7/8×47-7/8, indicating it came from a 4×8 sheet. It actually has 13 plys, countint the face ply which looks like to be about paper thickness.
Can you imagine the surprise one would get if he cut a dado for 3/4” ply! One lesson I got from all this aggrevation was “Don’t try to save a few bucks. It will cost you more in the end”.

View ajosephg's profile

ajosephg

1839 posts in 2157 days


#20 posted 831 days ago

Rule No. 1: Don’t cut any dado without having the piece on hand that’s going to fit into it.

-- Joe

View bruc101's profile

bruc101

555 posts in 2138 days


#21 posted 830 days ago

“True” Baltic Birch plywood comes from the Baltic Regions of Russia.
And Joe is correct…never cut a dado until you have the piece next to you going into it.

-- Bruce http://plans.sawmillvalley.org http://www.sawmillgirls.com

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1016 days


#22 posted 830 days ago

I have to think that MDO is the better choice for your machine anyway.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1016 days


#23 posted 830 days ago

On the CNC machine at work, we use a blind dado construction for our frameless cabinets.

The way around the plywood thickness dilemma is we route a rabbit on all the edges that go into the dadoes, thus, making a uniform thickness for the joint.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View dannelson's profile

dannelson

139 posts in 967 days


#24 posted 830 days ago

I dont quite understand your post why did you have to redesign your router to accmodate 3/4 material? isnt it handled in you program? Isnt yours like all the rest of ours? we measure our material thickness in decimals plug and play. pretty easy to change dados , width ,depth in seconds not hours even for a whole house of cabinets I would definately up grade your software. get used to different thicknesses it happens all the time.

-- nelson woodcrafters

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2716 posts in 1840 days


#25 posted 830 days ago

I don’t have any dados in my design. it’s the domino effect; change one dimension and it throws all the other dimensions off. I have sprockets, bearings and wheels that must conform to a design dimension. Change the thickness of the plywood, even a couple thousands, throws off clearances and operating parameters. If this machine was made from metal instead of wood, you can see where precision is necessary. I’m now using MDO which is as stable a material I can use. The precision I can attain with metal, can be applied to MDO. I still have “wiggle” room to make final adjustments. It’s not as straight forward as you think it is. I would like to post my drawings, but due to the size, they wouldn’t be very legible. Trust me; I know what I’m doing. I’ve designed complex machines for over 50 years for the U.S. Navy; it’s not the same as kitchen cabinets.

View dannelson's profile

dannelson

139 posts in 967 days


#26 posted 830 days ago

why didnt you say in the first place that you were still building your cnc out of wood parts? if you have that close of tolorences hate to see what happens when you introduce any humidity into the mix. not to mention gantry flex or racking .do you suppose theres is a reason cnc’s arnt made of wood? are you the same guy who couldnt get his wood torsion box table flat a few weeks ago? trust me I know what im doing? good luck. If Im going down the wrong path forgive me just trying to help.your right its not the same as kitchen cabinets

-- nelson woodcrafters

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2716 posts in 1840 days


#27 posted 830 days ago

The torsion box is now flat. Many CNC machines have been built using plywood and they seem to be working ok. I’m using MDO which is very stable. If humidity is a problem, all the parts will be affected equally. This is my first CNC and I’m on a learning curve. Changes and improvements are inevitable along the way. You learn by doing and making mistakes. I hope you can appreciate that. This CNC is a challenge. I don’t expect or want it to be too easy. When I work wood, I work to machinist’s tolerances. I know wood will not accomodate close tolerances, but changes will be across the board. All my layout s are to thousands ±.003 which is not close to a machinist, but close to a woodworker. You might call me a combination wood/metalworker. I work with both medias all the time and have all the tools to work both. I know in the commercial woodworking world, time is money and repeatable precision adds greatly to the cost. I’m retired so time is not a big factor to me. I learn as I go along. I try to learn something new every day. BTW, I use Autocad 2004 and I’m still on a learning curve with that also. In my original post, ”I just spent many hours redesigning my CNC router to accomodate 3/4” (nominal) Baltic Birch plywood.” I mentioned I was building a CNC from wood, but that wasn’t the reason for the post. It was about the thickness of plywood from Lowes.

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1519 days


#28 posted 829 days ago

, I use Autocad 2004 and I’m still on a learning curve

I suspect anyone that uses autocad will tell you they will constantly be on a learning curve. One tough program.

-- Life is good.

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1665 days


#29 posted 829 days ago

Ron -
I hate to be the one to tell you, but it’s been several years since “3/4” plywood has actually been 3/4” thick. I first noticed it at least 20 years ago when I had to get undersized router bits to cut dados. On the rare occasions when I get plywood from a big box, it’s clearly marked as 23/32” – and sometimes isn’t even that thick. – lol Oddly enough, I got some MDF core maple ply last week that is a full 3/4” thick.

Are you sure that your Lowes ply was Baltic birch? I’ve seen birch at Lowes and HD, but never Baltic Birch.

AutoCad 2004?? That’s almost an antique. You might find Sketchup must easier to learn and use.

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View bruc101's profile

bruc101

555 posts in 2138 days


#30 posted 829 days ago

I’ve had Autocad since their beginning and like millions more still use 2000 because it works and I could care less about all the new expensive gimmick upgrades Autodesk does.
I did my last upgrade with 2004, downloaded it and thought..gee that sure is pretty, I just wasted a pile of money on this upgrade for nothing….no more upgrades for me and a lot more cad operators I know are saying the same thing.

Hang in there with 2004 Ron…it’ll all fall in place one day for you. AC is a powerful program and I learned to do in it what I needed to do and never thought about trying to learn everything else the program does.

-- Bruce http://plans.sawmillvalley.org http://www.sawmillgirls.com

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

558 posts in 905 days


#31 posted 829 days ago

Perhaps verifying your material before setting up you cnc would be helpful. Kind of like buying hardware before you build the cabinet if have not used that particular hardwood before.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11638 posts in 2284 days


#32 posted 829 days ago

No Baltic Birch plywood at any of the Lowe’s or HoDePo’s around here.
Special order from real lumber yards only , and in 5’x5’ sheets….. Being Birch doesn’t make it Baltic.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2716 posts in 1840 days


#33 posted 829 days ago

Sawkerf; I know plywood has been undersize for many years. My squark was, the plywood that I knew was undersize turned out to be way too undersized. 3/4 is normally 23/32, but the junk I bought was .682, more than 1/16 undersized. MDF MDO and HDF are made to exact 1/4, 1/2 and 3/4” thicknesses.

Bruce; I use ACad 2004 for it’s 3D features.

Atom Jack; I used to live in sunny Ca, (27 years) and I miss not being able to find good materials, tools, food, etc. at good prices. Where I live now, most of my purchases have to be done via internet vendors, unless I accept Lowes and HD junk. I used to be able to buy a sheet of 3/4” MDO at Lundy’s in San Rafael for around $30. I just ordered the same MDO from a local sign shop; cost $95 + tax. I’ve shopped all over and can’t find a lower price. Wholesalers around here won’t sell to me, so I have to deal at the local level.

I will be picking up the MDO tomorrow.

FYI; MDO comes in 2 grades; concrete form and general. The concrete form stuff is impregnated with 34% phenolic resin and a coating which inhibits absorbtion of chemicals from the concrete. It is reusable. The general MDO is impregnated with 27% phenolic resin and takes paint well. It is used for signs and construction. The general is what I’m using. There is also another grade called HDO, which is the same as MDO, but with higher amounts of phenolic resin. It would be impossible to find around here, but If I lived in Ca. or near a large city, it would be easy to find. MDO is about the best I can hope to find.

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11638 posts in 2284 days


#34 posted 828 days ago

The cabinet shop that I worked at used MDF on top of their CNC table to prevent damage to their bits and also the base table itself. They also ran the CNC bit over the MDF to insure its flatness before putting any stock onto it.

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2716 posts in 1840 days


#35 posted 828 days ago

I have made the top and the base from MDF. The rest is MDO.

I picked up the MDO this morning and guess what; it measures 25/32” thick. I didn’t expect plywood to ever be thicker than it’s nominal size, but I can live with it. It will be 1/32” stronger than 3/4”.

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11638 posts in 2284 days


#36 posted 828 days ago

Can you remember when a 2×4 was actually 2” by 4” ?...... Along comes the term “nominal” : ) LOL

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

2716 posts in 1840 days


#37 posted 826 days ago

Can you remember when a 2×4 was actually 2” by 4” ?...... Along comes the term “nominal” : ) LOL
Dusty, A 2×4 is still a 2×4. It is the “nominal” size. It’s a lot easier to specify a piece of wood as a “2×4” than to express it as “1-1/2×3-1/2”. I believe the rough dimension is 2-1/8×4-1/8 before it is milled down to a finished dimension. It used to be 1-5/8×3-5/8, but now it’s 1-1/2×3-1/2. It has to do with the quality of new growth lumber. More material has to be removed before you hit wood that is stable. Actually I’m happy with the present dimensions. Don’t have to fool around with 1/8’s of an inch.

View Sawkerf's profile

Sawkerf

1730 posts in 1665 days


#38 posted 826 days ago

Dusty -
I doubt if anyone under 70 yrs old remembers 2×4’s actually measuring 2” x 4”. Lumber has been dimensioned for as long as I can remember (I’m 66).

The 2×4 designation is the rough cut dimensions from the saw mill. The final milling process brings it down to it’s actual size.

The only people I’ve ever seen get surprised that a 2×4 isn’t really 2” x 4” have been total rookies. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build character...................it reveals it.

View Dusty56's profile

Dusty56

11638 posts in 2284 days


#39 posted 825 days ago

I remember real 2×4’s because that is what was in my Grandfather’s house…some still had bark on them !!
We found that out when we insulated the place , and nothing was spaced “on center” either… LOL

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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