Swapping birch for cherry?

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Forum topic by pashley posted 07-16-2010 05:55 PM 2433 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1044 posts in 3742 days

07-16-2010 05:55 PM

Topic tags/keywords: cherry birch

I’m building a sizable toy chest for someone, and wanted to use cherry plywood for panels (1/2”), but after checking out prices, would like to consider another option. It seems that I read somewhere that birch plywood is very similar in grain to cherry, and is often used as a substitute? I could just stain the birch a light cherry color, and I’d still have the look I’m after, at about 1/2 the price.

Anyone comment?

-- Have a blessed day!

9 replies so far

View rwyoung's profile


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#1 posted 07-16-2010 06:29 PM

Overtime as the cherry and birch change colors the stain will no longer match.

You can make your own small quantity of cherry ply by using cherry veneer over MDF, etc. This will present its own set of problems and it can still shift color differently than solid cherry. Might even be cheaper than buying a full sheet of 1/2” cherry ply. You will have to run the numbers for yourself.

-- Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

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Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3847 days

#2 posted 07-16-2010 07:35 PM

I have never heard that birch and cherry were interchangeable. I have used birch and maple plywoods in this fashion though since it is difficult to tell the two apart (this was a tip that Norm gave out on one of the episodes of the NYW).

But even if you can get the two to look similar now I agree that over time the colors of the two woods will not be the same.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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#3 posted 07-16-2010 08:53 PM

Is solid cherry out of the question?

-- mike & judy western md. www.

View PurpLev's profile


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#4 posted 07-16-2010 09:07 PM

birch can resembles maple but cherry is darker and not quite a good swap.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

View pashley's profile


1044 posts in 3742 days

#5 posted 07-16-2010 10:19 PM

I guess I mis-spoke. I’m making the toybox out of QSWO, the frame, that is, and the panels were to be cherry plywood. Instead, I’d like to use birch, stained a light reddish-brown, to simulate cherry. I don’t think birch will darken, as cherry would have, which is fine; I don’t want it too.

I was looking to see if anyone else had made such a swap successfully…

-- Have a blessed day!

View woodprof's profile


44 posts in 3215 days

#6 posted 07-17-2010 03:23 AM

I tried that with a couple of bookcases, and although it came out OK, the plywood won’t fool anyone taking more than a casual glance into thinking it’s cherry. In retrospect I wish I had bitten the bullet and sprung for the extra cost of cherry ply.

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1044 posts in 3742 days

#7 posted 07-17-2010 03:25 AM


-- Have a blessed day!

View MOJOE's profile


548 posts in 3294 days

#8 posted 07-17-2010 05:06 AM

I sprayed “medium brown” tinted shellac on a birch crib not too long ago…...I kinda think it looks cherry-ish….might check it out and see what you think…..the headboard has birch ply panels as well, but the slats are maple.

-- Measuring twice and cutting once only works if you read the tape correctly!

View fussy's profile


980 posts in 3075 days

#9 posted 07-18-2010 06:57 AM


Birch plywood is a fine substitute for cherry; especially if cherry is around $90/sheet as it is here. Stain scrap until you get what you want. You MAY want to look at the qswo up against the cherry stained birch and see how the color/grain combination play together. It may work with just a clear finish on both. It pays to test first.


-- Steve in KY. 44 years so far with my lovely bride. Think I'll keep her.

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