Is all Birch Ply created equal?

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Forum topic by Bsmith posted 498 days ago 1490 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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295 posts in 1304 days

498 days ago

Is Birch Plywood and Baltic Birch ply the same? What I get at the Big Box store doesn’t seem to resemble what I see being used for jigs and such. What I’m getting has maybe 6 ply’s and has a few voids on the edge. Most of the jigs I see tagged Baltic Birch looks the same, but with more ply’s and less voids. Am I missing the obvious or need to find another supplyer?

-- Bryan

12 replies so far

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7443 posts in 2281 days

#1 posted 498 days ago

Baltic birch, Finnish birch and Russian birch are all pretty
similar and come in 60”x60” sheets. These ply products
are reliably stable. The birch ply you find at big box store,
even if it is veneer core (1/16” layers) is not as stable
and may have internal voids where layers have separated.

Applyply is comparable in quality to Baltic birch. One
supplier told me the Finns do a better job of it than
the Russians. I have seen voids in the Russian stuff,
but the Finnish I’ve used has always been top

It can still warp, but it is better stuff for long-lived jigs
than most other composite boards.


View Charlie's profile


1008 posts in 920 days

#2 posted 498 days ago

what thickness? On my 3/4” birch ply for kitchen cabinets the stuff from the big box had 11 plies and the stuff I bought had 13 (from a plywood and hardwood supplier). It STILL wasn’t Baltic Birch and, no, birch ply is not the same as Baltic Birch ply.

Look for a plywood supplier in your area. The plywood I got from them was better quality and significantly less money. Like 30 or 40% less.

View MrRon's profile


2799 posts in 1877 days

#3 posted 498 days ago

The Birch plywood you find at the big box store is not the same as Baltic Birch. BB comes in sheets of 1520×1520 mm, (60”x60”) and thickness is measured in millimeters. Birch plywood comes in 48”x96” sheets, thickness measured in inches and has less plys. If there are cut sheets like 24”x48” or 48”x48”, then you know it’s cut from a 48”x96” sheet, nor Baltic Birch.

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Rex B

310 posts in 884 days

#4 posted 498 days ago

No, all birch ply is definitely not created equal. Some people say they can get Baltic Birch from the big box store, but I have never seen it in mine; I get my Baltic Birch from the hardwood dealer. It is a totally different product – every ply is solid birch and the whole sheet is void free. Baltic Birch is pretty much always sold in 5×5 sheets in metric thicknesses. If you ever find it in 4×8 it is either Chinese or American. That said, some American plywoods such as Appleply are as high of quality as Baltic Birch, but usually pricey.

Edit: Wow, I think we all typed the same response in unison. There were no posts before I started typing. :)

-- Rex

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2199 posts in 1792 days

#5 posted 498 days ago

Not all are the same, but generally all good forms of ply. There are both Russian and Finland versions imported into North America which are considered superior. It is also made in the US, but it is considered a lesser grade because the quality of the veneers are said to be better with the Euro birchs. They are graded, so that makes it easier to know what you are getting. I think there are 13 plies in a 3/4” (18mm) sheet, IIRC.

-- jay,

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886 posts in 744 days

#6 posted 498 days ago

A agree with all of the above.

I’d just like to add that my dealer can provide the real deal not only in 5×5, but also 5×10, 4×8, and 4×12 sheets.

-- It's all good, if it's wood...

View crank49's profile


3378 posts in 1605 days

#7 posted 498 days ago

I agree with all above but would like to add that (box store) birch plywood, whether from Chinese or domestic suppliers, only has a super thin outside veneer of birch and some kind of “mostly wood” for internal plies.

-- Michael :-{| “If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.” ― A H

View nwbusa's profile


1016 posts in 920 days

#8 posted 498 days ago

“I think there are 13 plies in a 3/4” (18mm) sheet, IIRC”

That’s correct.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Grandpa's profile


3100 posts in 1309 days

#9 posted 498 days ago

I get a product called and labeled Varsity Biirch. It has more plys than AC fir plywood and I believe it is a better product. I use it when I can afford it. It is about $54 a sheet versus $34 per sheet for BC fir. This is all 3/4 inch thick. No it isn’t the same as Baltic Birch.

View Bsmith's profile


295 posts in 1304 days

#10 posted 497 days ago

So now i know. So far everything i’ve purchased comes from Lowes, HD or Menards. Comes in 4×8 sheets 3/4” thick and the outside veneer is very thin. Depending how it’s stored some has even had a little wave to it. We have a few lumber stores in the area, looks like I need to check them out. Thanks a million.

-- Bryan

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2095 posts in 822 days

#11 posted 497 days ago

The short answer is “of course not”. The true BB from Finland is the best but a lot seems to come from Russia these days. Not as good but beats hell out of the crap regular plywood at a big box store.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View Milo's profile


851 posts in 1953 days

#12 posted 496 days ago

The guys at the Woodtalk podcast talked about this not long ago. One of the guys, Shannon, works for a lumber mill, was saying there is a whole host of issues involved in pricing and grading of plywood.

Here were some interesting reads on the subject:

Hope it helps.

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

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