Baltic Birch


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My local hardwood supplier sells sheets of 3/4 Baltic Birch in two sizes - 4x8, and 5x5.  Yesterday, I just happened to ask if they both came from the same place, and -- much to my surprise -- they don't.  The 5x5 sheets are supposedly true Baltic Birch, from Russia.  The 4x8 sheets are imitation Baltic Birch, from China.

I'd just bought a 4x8 sheet from them a couple weeks ago, but haven't used it yet.  I went ahead and picked up a 5x5 sheet while I was there, to compare the two.  They are both sold as 3/4 thickness, but the 5x5 sheet is only about 15.5mm thick, while the 4x8 sheet is 18mm thick.  Confusing, because I thought "true" Baltic Birch was supposed to be 18mm thick?

Anyone have experience (good, bad, otherwise) with BB from China?

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If your local supplier has Chinese ply labeled as BB ply I would be suspect of other labels as well.  If you just mistook it because of the appearance, this is understandable. 

I tried some of the Chinese stuff and couldn't get rid of it soon enough.  I wouldn't even build shop cabinets out of it but, it did work well for things out in the shed. 

I'm sure there are different grades but, the outer veneer on the stuff I bought was paper thin.  I bought it knowing what it was and wanted to take one for the team . . . I did ;-(

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When I called to check pricing on 3/4 BB plywood, they said it came in 4x8 and 5x5.  No other distinction was made.  When I showed up to purchase it, I asked for "3/4 BB plywood".  They asked which size, and I said 4x8.  They located it, and helped me load it up.

That was the first time I've ever seen BB plywood up close, so I wasn't really in a position to judge quality or authenticity.  Based on your responses, it sounds to me like they're misrepresenting the Chinese product as BB.  This hardwood supplier has been great in every other regard, so maybe there's just some subtlety in their labeling or wording that I'm overlooking.

 

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15.5mm is actually less than 5/8", so should have been sold as such (never heard of 5/8" BB though). Your lumber yard has made a mistake. I've never used the 4 x 8 because, at least where I shop, they are almost 2x the cost per sq. ft. as the 5 x 5 sheets. As I recall, the face veneer of real BB ply is over half the thickness of the core veneers.

I think @BillyJack is right.

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The place I go to has some very nice ply. The plies are free of voids, and the sheets are 4x8 oversized. This comes with maple, cherry, walnut and some other veneered pieces. Veneers on both sides. Sheets are around $135 each. It is really good looking stuff. It is what I used for the case of the liquor cabinet I just finished.

 

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Thanks for all of the responses.

This place does sell 5/8" BB plywood, so I'm guessing the 5x5 sheet with a 15.5mm thickness must be 5/8" instead of 3/4".  Their mistake, but I should have been paying more attention.  Bummer.

Can anyone recommend a place in or around Atlanta GA to buy quality BB plywood?

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I buy my normal Baltic Birch at Suwanee Lumber. The 5x5 sheets are true Baltic, 1/4", 3/8", 1/2" ,5/8", and 3/4" . The 5/8 measures right around 9/16 the 3/4 comes out around 11/16. The 1/2" sheets are around 7/16, usually 1/64 over or under.  You can expect a few (football shaped ) patches even in the best face occasionally.The 4x8 sheets are Asian imports and not worth much in my opinion. (rarely flat or void free cores)

For the higher grade sheets (and prices) try AWP- Atlanta Wood Products in Smyrna.

The ply Llama is referring to are usually very high grade US made 4x8 or 48 1/2 X 96 1/2, one brand is "ApplePly". AWP should have something similar.

There are several other suppliers in the Metro Atlanta area but they don't all cooperate with hobbiests as well. Send me a PM if you need more info.

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My lumber yard labels the legit baltic birch in "nominal" inches and "actual" mm, which helps a bit.  

3/4" --> 18mm

5/8" --> 15mm

1/2" --> 12mm

3/8" --> 9mm

That yard and the other one in town both also sell "domestic birch" (which is made in the US) and "imported birch" (which is imported from China).  I figured those terms were commonly used at every yard, might be a regional thing though.

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19 hours ago, Jason S. said:

Thanks for all of the responses.

This place does sell 5/8" BB plywood, so I'm guessing the 5x5 sheet with a 15.5mm thickness must be 5/8" instead of 3/4".  Their mistake, but I should have been paying more attention.  Bummer.

Can anyone recommend a place in or around Atlanta GA to buy quality BB plywood?

I have had good luck with Peach State Products in Kennesaw. Good selection of lumber and  various grades and types of plywood.

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20 hours ago, Jason S. said:

Can anyone recommend a place in or around Atlanta GA to buy quality BB plywood?

http://www.wurthwoodgroup.com/Locations.aspx

I've purchased hundreds of 5x5 sheets from Wurth (their Charlotte location), and I've seen the import stamp on the board showing it came from Russia. Wurth also sells some Chinese imports but they've always been good about making a distinction between the products.

-E

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