Baltic Birch

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Forum topic by Irwin posted 01-24-2008 11:50 PM 3488 views 0 times favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Irwin's profile


13 posts in 4040 days

01-24-2008 11:50 PM

Hello All,

Went to my local lumber yard the other day to get some Baltic Birch ply for a project. When I got there all they had was 1/2” sheets available. When I inquired about it they said that the Baltic Birch market has pretty much come to a screeching halt. They added that the reason is because the trees have been over harvested and that all they were getting was the 1/2” for the foreseeable future. Has anyone else experienced this supply problem? I’ve heard that there are some Chinese 4X8 sheets of birch ply coming in but the quality isn’t nearly what the Baltic is.



-- If you're walking on eggs, don't hop!

13 replies so far

View motthunter's profile


2141 posts in 4035 days

#1 posted 01-24-2008 11:55 PM

i have not encountered this. you do have to be selective when you buy the Chinese stuff. There is also some nice plyy coming from south America.

-- making sawdust....

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 4111 days

#2 posted 01-25-2008 12:29 AM

I have not sought any lately, but I have a project coming up soon where I will need it. I hope this is not a hard fact.

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 4052 days

#3 posted 01-25-2008 01:08 AM

yea, same thing. I heard it was the weather too. BB is going to be in short supply. Chinese stuff isn’t worth buying. Everything we’ve encountered tends to delaminate. You don’t know until you rip it then you see the seperating layers. I think I’d be happier just getting cabinet grade oak or whatever, whether it got covered up or not.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View Myron Wooley's profile

Myron Wooley

226 posts in 4132 days

#4 posted 01-25-2008 02:13 AM

Is ApplePly a suitable substitute? Are there any Left Coast sources?
I bought a bunch of “cabinet grade” birch plywood (not baltic birch) from the local Home Despot to make my outfeed table- what junk. I had to glue and clamp the laminations back together on several large areas just to salvage the panels.

-- The days are long and the years are short...

View jcees's profile


1071 posts in 4035 days

#5 posted 01-25-2008 02:52 AM

The plywood industry is in flux. Seems there are fewer and fewer U.S. plants making any. Most of the production has gone to the Chinese and as others have stated, don’t buy it for anything that counts including jig making. The only quality you can count on is that it is pure crap. I needed a sheet of cab grade birch and stopped in one of my favorite woodworking stores and low and behold he was carrying “the crap.” He explained that his supplier was now importing only “the crap” and passed it off by shuffling through a dozen sheets before we found one that was flat enough and didn’t have any unusual bumps or other veneer flaws. When I got it home, I ripped the sheet in half and it immediately curled. Jumpin Jeehosaphat! It’s a good thing that it’s only a substructure and I could secure the piece flat.

As to the availability of Baltic Birch, I don’t buy the “over-harvested” argument. I mean, when is the last time you visited a plywood forest? C’mon! But seriously, my local cab supplier had to order 3/4” for me as he only stocked the 1/2”. It took a couple of days to get it from his supplier. If you get any more bogus bull_hit from your supplier, I suggest you find another. At least one who can offer up better excuses.

-- When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world. -- John Muir

View Irwin's profile


13 posts in 4040 days

#6 posted 01-25-2008 07:07 AM

Hi Myron,

I don’t know what part of the left coast you live but up here in the Willamette Valley Crosscut Hardwoods sells Appleply. I haven’t personally used it but the specs look good for a reasonable substitute.

Hi jcees,

Well the veneer has to come from somewhere and really when you think about it the story seems plausible. After the collapse of the Soviet Union the baltic states were eager to find any industry that would pump cash into their economy. I doubt they have any watchdogs over there to make sure they don’t cut too may birch trees. I’m hoping the story is wrong but many of the suppliers in this area have also dried up so who really knows why this is happening? Anyway I’ll keep looking for a supply of Baltic Birch.



-- If you're walking on eggs, don't hop!

View Mario's profile


902 posts in 4288 days

#7 posted 01-25-2008 03:39 PM

I was pricing plywood last night and Baltic Birch Plywood 3/4 4X8 were $70.00 per sheet at Menards and regular Birch of the same size were $40.00

-- Hope Never fails

View Irwin's profile


13 posts in 4040 days

#8 posted 01-25-2008 04:19 PM

Hi Mario,

I’ve heard the stuff that Menard’s is selling comes from China, but since I live in the Northwest where we don’t have a Menard’s, can’t confirm that. Although the Baltic Birch that I’ve bought comes in 5X5 sheets so I would be suspect of any 4X8 sheets as being legitimate. Of course that’s just my opinion, I could be wrong :)


-- If you're walking on eggs, don't hop!

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 4111 days

#9 posted 01-25-2008 04:41 PM

I was having trouble getting 3/4 BB ply late last fall, but haven’t had any trouble recently. Domestic Birch ply isn’t too outrageously expensive.

-- -- --

View snowdog's profile


1166 posts in 4219 days

#10 posted 01-25-2008 05:04 PM

“when is the last time you visited a plywood forest? ... Jumpin Jeehosaphat! ” says jcees. Great lines. I had to past that in here again in case anyone reading missed it.

-- "so much to learn and so little time"..

View Catspaw's profile


236 posts in 4052 days

#11 posted 01-26-2008 01:20 AM

This actually addresses something that I ponder late at night regarding things that get covered up, secondary wood, etc.

When building cabinets I consider the substructure that gets covered up. I’m not a big fan of particle board. But, then, I’ve built alot of melamine cabinets. Then I considered the cabs I’m going to build for my own house.

In the end I think, does it really matter to me what the carcass is made of? Knowing what P/B is like regarding fasteners and such, I’m thinking that maybe I should just deal with the melamine. It’s got a nice hard surface for the inside. It’s usually flat, etc., etc. The only thing that is really important about cabinets is the face frame and doors. Everything else is hidden 99% of the time. And as long as it’s stable, flat, and durable, I guess P.B. is not too bad.

I’ve been wrestling with this for awhile since in my current situation we do alot of glue-up panels for frame and panel stuff plus veneer….not the 1/gazillionth thick stuff, but resawn and vacuum-bagged to a substrate walnut crotches and stuff. So I’d like really crafty stuff, but….the reality sets in and sez why? I think if I’m going to build something that matters and is visible and decorative I’ll glue up or use frame and panel, if it’s just inside surface….I think i’m being suduced by the P.B. or MDF/veneer side.

-- arborial reconfiguration specialist

View IowaWoodcrafter's profile


280 posts in 4312 days

#12 posted 01-26-2008 05:01 AM

I’ve purchased baltic birch from Menard’s and have found the quality to be very good. I have made many, many jigs out of the sheets from Menard’s. I’ve had no warpage or peeling. I do like that it comes in 4’ x 8’ sheets.

I’ll take a swing by my local Menard’s this weekend and see if the price has gone up or if it is in short supply. I’ll also try to find out who makes it and where it comes from.

-- Owen Johnson - aka IowaWoodcrafter

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 4199 days

#13 posted 01-26-2008 05:13 AM

Here in the Boise, Idaho area we were out from June til November but now seem to have plenty. I haven’t bought any for a month or so, so maybe I’m behind. I don’t think they have run out of birch in the Baltic region. I guess we could ask Tony if Finland is out of Birch.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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