Baltic birch plywood tearout #1: In a dovetail jig

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Blog entry by DouginVa posted 03-12-2012 11:51 PM 12283 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Baltic birch plywood tearout series no next part

Not too long ago I bought a sheet of baltic birch plywood for a armoir project for my daughter (pics to be posted at a later time). I was going to use the plywood for the drawer parts because it was being hailed as splinter free when using it in a dovetail jig. NOT

I tried using backer boards in the front and back and still got tearout. If the ends didn’t tear out then the last layer of the ply de-laminated. This made fitting them and glue ups a pain in the ass. I know I could have used masking tape but when you have several drawers to make that woudl be a pain in the ass too.

I really think this baltic birch is not what everybody makes it out to be.

Anybody else have similar experiences with this stuff?

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

5 comments so far

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3299 days

#1 posted 03-13-2012 01:08 AM

I’ve cut box joint drawers from birch ply using a Freud box cutter set and 1/8” mdf backer board and got very little tear out but I don’t think it likes routers.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View ajosephg's profile


1882 posts in 4170 days

#2 posted 03-13-2012 01:15 AM

I’ve had good results using a Porter Cable jig and bits with Baltic Birch. Take it slooooow and easy.

Are you sure you had REAL Baltic Birch? The Birch ply you get in a big box store doesn’t “cut” it.

-- Joe

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3418 days

#3 posted 03-13-2012 01:21 AM

Doug, I cant imagine who would have told you that baltic ply would dovetail splinterfree. I have done quite a few with mixed results. Slow is magic and block the ends. Tape will offer no help. Score it first as best you can with the cutter. I mostly use poplar if im dovetailing otherwise I will use differant joinery techniuqes.

View DouginVa's profile


491 posts in 2882 days

#4 posted 03-13-2012 01:24 AM

The ply came from a local and trusted hardwood distributor, 5X5 sheets. I have yet to get flawless results, mixed at best. I’m not going to give it another chance either. I think I’ll go the poplar route.

-- Just a man with his chisel.........

View cabmaker's profile


1745 posts in 3418 days

#5 posted 03-13-2012 01:35 AM

Doug you will sleep much better. Plywood and dovetails are not a match made in heaven.

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