Is all Birch Ply created equal?

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Forum topic by Bsmith posted 04-18-2013 06:58 PM 2779 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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330 posts in 2912 days

04-18-2013 06:58 PM

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

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3890 days

#1 posted 04-18-2013 07:05 PM

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


1100 posts in 2528 days

#2 posted 04-18-2013 07:06 PM

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


5281 posts in 3485 days

#3 posted 04-18-2013 07:07 PM

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

320 posts in 2492 days

#4 posted 04-18-2013 07:08 PM

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

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3400 days

#5 posted 04-18-2013 07:10 PM

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,

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2352 days

#6 posted 04-18-2013 07:14 PM

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.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3213 days

#7 posted 04-18-2013 07:23 PM

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.

View nwbusa's profile


1021 posts in 2528 days

#8 posted 04-18-2013 07:26 PM

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

That’s correct.

-- John, BC, Canada

View Grandpa's profile


3261 posts in 2917 days

#9 posted 04-18-2013 07:30 PM

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


330 posts in 2912 days

#10 posted 04-19-2013 05:58 PM

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

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2430 days

#11 posted 04-19-2013 11:05 PM

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


869 posts in 3561 days

#12 posted 04-20-2013 06:52 PM

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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