Laminated Baltic Birch Benchtop

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Forum topic by HTown posted 04-19-2015 12:31 AM 2606 views 0 times favorited 23 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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105 posts in 1210 days

04-19-2015 12:31 AM

Topic tags/keywords: baltic birch bench

I’m thinking about ripping Baltic birch ply into strips, turning them on edge and laminating them for a bench top. Anybody been there and done that? Thanks

23 replies so far

View Mykos's profile


103 posts in 1818 days

#1 posted 04-19-2015 12:41 AM

Why would you want to have them on edge ? If you’re going to make a top of birch ply then just lay it on top of each other flat. Since plywood has alternating grains you’re not going to be gaining anything by having it on edge. You’d also pretty much need to use a router sled to flatten an edge ply top since it would behave horribly with hand planes or a powered planer.

View TheFridge's profile


9606 posts in 1510 days

#2 posted 04-19-2015 12:51 AM

I wouldn’t do that because the glue in ply kills sharp tools. A torsion box out ply if I had ply on hand. Maybe.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View GrandpaLen's profile


1650 posts in 2296 days

#3 posted 04-19-2015 06:34 PM


Here’s a Desk top blog you may want to look at. I’m certain that Mark would answer a couple questions you might have, if you send him a P.M.

Work Safely and have Fun. – Grandpa Len

-- Mother Nature should be proud of what you've done with her tree. - Len ...just north of a stone's throw from the oHIo, river that is, in So. Indiana.

View WoodNSawdust's profile


1417 posts in 1200 days

#4 posted 04-19-2015 06:37 PM

Nope never done it and can’t figure out what I would gain from it. As others have said just use multiple layers of plywood or a torsion box. I don’t think a torsion box would handle bench dogs well.

-- "I love it when a plan comes together" John "Hannibal" Smith

View bondogaposis's profile


4759 posts in 2375 days

#5 posted 04-19-2015 06:46 PM

I haven’t done it. I’m sure it would make an awesome bench top but insanely expensive depending on how thick you make it. Using an LVL beam would give a similar look but more reasonable in price and a lot less glue ups.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3109 days

#6 posted 04-19-2015 07:15 PM

If you want to use plywood, check out Shipwright’s V8 bench for a good way to use plywood and still
have a good looking wood surface.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View kaerlighedsbamsen's profile


1248 posts in 1737 days

#7 posted 04-19-2015 07:19 PM

Have not done it but am sure it will look great. Seems to remember someone here made a nice looking box with that method but cannot find it right now.
Let us know how it ends!

-- "Do or Do not. There is no try." - Yoda

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1959 days

#8 posted 04-19-2015 08:09 PM

Wouldn’t suggest it. Like fridge said, plywood glue is brutal on tools. Just ask my jointer knives.

I really think when the time comes for to build THE BENCH for my shop, I will buy prelaminated maple butcher block. It isn’t that expensive, especially when you consider the time and effort that goes into milling and gluing up a bench top. Lots of cabinet shops will do it for cheap as well. I think benchtops are one of the few things that are permissible for the self respecting woodworker to outsource. It is lots of menial work for a big flat rectangle of wood.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View rwe2156's profile


2962 posts in 1505 days

#9 posted 04-19-2015 08:54 PM

Not hard enough/too porous. I wouldn’t use LVL for the same reason.

Mykos is correct. the Birch ply will be better flat.

Laminate a couple layers of MDF and 3/4 Birch ply and you’ll have a fairly decent top.

I think one of the cheapest and pretty good tops is 2-3/4 MDF with a 1/4” hardboard glued on edged with a hardwood.

Torsion box is OK, too.

-- Everything is a prototype thats why its one of a kind!!

View MrRon's profile


4793 posts in 3267 days

#10 posted 04-19-2015 09:05 PM

If you wanted to laminate a top from strips, I would use solid wood, not plywood. In effect a butcher block.

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2385 days

#11 posted 04-19-2015 09:18 PM

One of the dumber ideas on a site that’s no stranger to dumb ideas.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View Kazooman's profile (online now)


1026 posts in 1976 days

#12 posted 04-19-2015 09:49 PM

I agree on going with the traditional laminated wood, not plywood.

One issue is just what you mean by Baltic birch plywood. I recently bought several pieces from a local big box for a small shelf cabinet project. Nice finish on one side, not quite so nice on the reverse. I cut the requisite pieces and found that one had a major void in the ply layer just under the veneer face. Ended up right on an edge and revealed itself before I incorporated it into the finished project. Had to go back for another piece.

I should have taken the road trip to my usual supplier. I compared some leftover pieces of their Baltic Birch ply to the local supply. Eleven plies versus seven in 1/2” plywood. Much thicker surface veneer as well. You get what you pay for.

Other that the comments about glue being tough on tools, I think that the “good” Baltic birch ply I have would actually finish out quite nicely on edge. The “big box” Baltic birch would not be so nice. I have used the better quality plywood for many items such as table saw jigs and it is amazing. Dead flat, stable, etc.

View HTown's profile


105 posts in 1210 days

#13 posted 04-20-2015 03:12 AM

All, Thanks for the posts. I hadn’t considered the wear on planes and such. Perhaps I’ll save this idea and put it towards the wife’s kitchen island with the right finish. I’m able to get BB in 3B grade without voids at a reasonable price and I like the look that it creates. I’ll try a sample and see how it fares through the drum sander and table saw.

GrandPa Len, Thanks for turning me onto Mark’s desk, that is the look I’m after.

View ksSlim's profile


1276 posts in 2914 days

#14 posted 04-20-2015 03:23 AM

The Red BORG just turned on a sale for butcher block counter tops.
That would work for a kitchen island as well.
Just increase the supply list.

-- Sawdust and shavings are therapeutic

View TheFridge's profile


9606 posts in 1510 days

#15 posted 04-20-2015 03:30 AM

I second shipwrights bench.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

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