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Staining birch veneer ply?

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Forum topic by JMB posted 1981 days ago 7505 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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JMB

18 posts in 2023 days


1981 days ago

Topic tags/keywords: question finishing

Hey, all.

Not quite sure this is the proper forum for this topic, but here goes.

I have been approached to make a large cabinet which will enclose a computer desk and shelves. My client showed me a piece of furniture with a grain structure and stain he would like to attempt to match. I took one look at it, and blimey if the grain didn’t look like birch!

Now, I’ve never built anything of value out of birch, unless I was planning on painting it. The going word on birch as I understand it is that it SUCKS for staining. It’s grain is uneven – soaks in too much or not enough, and ends up looking blotchy. But I swear this table was either birch, or a species of wood that has a very similar grain structure. I know it can’t be maple – maple doesn’t stain well either, and the grain wasn’t right.

So, here’s my question – Can birch ply be made to take a good stain? If not, is there a commonly available hardwood veneer plywood which looks similar to birch and will take a stain?

This is a bit of a curveball idea, but I thought about going for Walnut if nothing else works. Walnut certainly has that nice wavy annular ring grain, and the piece is getting a dark stain anyway. Thing is, I really wanted to avoid that expense.

Thoughts?

-- If I can't fix it, it wern't broke in the first place!


5 replies so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 2420 days


#1 posted 1981 days ago

Birch and maple ply can be used interchangeably. They are very similar in appearance and in behavior. Both tend to blotch when penetrating stains are applied but this tendency can be controlled somewhat with an application of stain controller and letting it dry overnight before applying stain. Another option, that I have used, is to apply a dye. This produces an even color in the wood and then is sealed with a coat of shellac before applying the finish coat.

But, if you want the piece to look like walnut, then you really should go with walnut and walnut ply. You can imitate the look with cheaper woods but I am a firm believer that you cannot outsmart Mother Nature.

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

View Peter Oxley's profile

Peter Oxley

1426 posts in 2472 days


#2 posted 1981 days ago

I’m with Scott on all of that. One other thing is that domestic birch is much less prone to blotching than baltic birch.

-- http://www.peteroxley.com -- http://north40studios.etsy.com --

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3960 posts in 2662 days


#3 posted 1981 days ago

Scott is (as usual!) dead-on the money. I have used a spray (or wipe) on Microton NGR dye from ML Campbell to decent effect on baltic. But I use it for the bottom of boxes primarily. I think I’d pony up for the species of ply you are trying to emulate or use veneer where it matters.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

3960 posts in 2662 days


#4 posted 1981 days ago

Scott is as usual, dead-on the money. I have used a spray (or wipe) on Woodsong Microton NGR dye from ML Campbell to decent effect on baltic (the black is a very effective ebonizer). But I use it for the bottom of boxes primarily. I think I’d pony up for the species of ply you are trying to emulate or use veneer where it matters.

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over a decade.

View ajosephg's profile

ajosephg

1840 posts in 2159 days


#5 posted 1981 days ago

Domestic birch PW has beautiful grain as opposed to virtually no grain on Baltic or China birch. Twenty or so years ago it was used extensively for interior doors as well as cabinets. I never had a problem with uneveness back then.

Having said that, it may be hard to find domestic birch now days.

-- Joe

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