All Replies on Is this birch or maple? Which should I use?

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View Caitlin's profile

Is this birch or maple? Which should I use?

by Caitlin
posted 01-30-2017 02:33 PM

6 replies so far

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6311 posts in 3297 days

#1 posted 01-30-2017 07:55 PM

It could be either, but I’m guessing (and it is a guess) it’s maple. Actually I see little difference in the cost of maple versus birch around me but that might be a regional thing. I’ve mixed the two woods in the same piece and had very good results. I don’t see what you want to do as being very hard, and for flat panels/shelves I would use plywood. For the shelves I would band the edge with hardwood…though your comment about “sending it through the sander” puzzles me. Most plywood is finish sanded to about 150 grit equivalent, and the surface veneers can be a little thin…sending such a piece “through the sander” might make it a fairly useless piece of wood. If any of the other parts will be frame and panel (like those doors) use hardwood for the frame and plywood for the panels. I can’t imagine you will need any veneer if you get a good quality maple (my choice) plywood. Your finish matching will go beyond stain (if there is any), that top coat could be tricky to match. Coloring maple is a real effort, it tends to blotch. If those pieces are colored you might be better off using dyes.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

View Carloz's profile


1147 posts in 1395 days

#2 posted 01-30-2017 08:06 PM

especially since the previous owner seemed to always go the cheap route!
- Caitlin

Brilliant, blame everything on the other guy!
I can confirm that in my area too birch/maple price is almost the same.
I imagine what you would say finding out that your cabinets are mdf.

View TheFridge's profile


10859 posts in 2290 days

#3 posted 01-30-2017 10:43 PM

Ditto on the birch maple.

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

View Caitlin's profile


2 posts in 1286 days

#4 posted 01-30-2017 11:37 PM

Thanks Fred!!
Just to clarify, I wouldn’t send the plywood or veneer through the sander, I was referring to if I choose to use straight boards of maple (which I am pretty sure I will) to make the shelves.
Thanks for the dyes suggestion! Can you point me in the right direction there? What brand to use? I have never heard of dyeing wood before.

View jerryminer's profile


960 posts in 2245 days

#5 posted 01-31-2017 12:03 AM

You had me going with this line also:

I figure if I did plywood I could glue on some maple …before sending it through the sander?

So no, don’t send plywood “through the sander”

I’m also guessing maple. Birch that I get tends to have more color variation. Hard maple is more consistently blonde.

-- Jerry, making sawdust professionally since 1976

View Fred Hargis's profile

Fred Hargis

6311 posts in 3297 days

#6 posted 01-31-2017 12:13 PM

Dyes (sometimes referred to incorrectly as “Aniline Dyes” are coloring agents you mix with something, water or DNA, and apply to the wood. Because there’s no binders (the adhesive component in a stain) or oil you don’t get the blotching that a stain will cause. It would be easier to get a good book like Flexner's or Jewitts and check them out for the use. There are solutions using stains, typically you would seal the wood first with something a wash coat (a very thin coating of finish, commonly but not always shellac) and apply stain over that. These aren’t advanced finishing techniques, actually fairly common.

-- Our village hasn't lost it's idiot, he was elected to congress.

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