Is all Baltic Birch the same?

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Forum topic by Bill Szydlo posted 07-08-2017 04:53 PM 1126 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Bill Szydlo

67 posts in 3139 days

07-08-2017 04:53 PM

Does anyone know if the Baltic Birch a big box store sells is the same as the Baltic Birch a lumber dealer sells? Usually sheet goods from a big box store are of lesser quality than higher end dealers but I’m wondering if all Baltic Birch plywood is the same or if there is a grading system like in other sheet goods.


11 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 4100 days

#1 posted 07-08-2017 05:17 PM

The Finns have a reputation for making
a better quality product than the Russians.
Flatter, and fewer voids. I’ve seen Baltic
birch delaminate inside.

View clin's profile


1051 posts in 1448 days

#2 posted 07-08-2017 05:38 PM

Where I live, no big box store carries Baltic Birch, though HD does carry birch plywood. So just in case, be sure to differentiate between Birch and Baltic Birch plywood. As far as I know, most Baltic Birch comes in 60”x60” square sheets.

I assume, given the name, that Baltic refers more or less to the region of the world where it is made. Though perhaps it is a species of birch.

I’ve used both Baltic Birch (I believe sourced from Russia and quite good) as well as a version of Birch plywood called BIMP. The BIMP is much lower quality birch plywood as compared to Baltic Birch. BIMP is the acronym for a east Asian consortium from Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines. While not near as good as the Baltic Birch, it is plenty good enough for cabinet boxes.

-- Clin

View bondogaposis's profile


5492 posts in 2803 days

#3 posted 07-08-2017 06:20 PM

I’ve never seen Baltic birch at a big box store.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View rustfever's profile


771 posts in 3762 days

#4 posted 07-08-2017 06:30 PM

My local hardwood dealer sell both Baltic Birch brand and Chinese imitation ‘Baltic Birch’.

My findings: true Baltic Birch is very stable, but I’ve found the Chinese version to be subject to warping.

I frequently use the BB for making jigs. When using the Knock-Off product, I’ve had trouble with the jigs twist and warp.

Therefore, I always insist upon BB and no longer use the knock-off stuff.

-- Rustfever, Central California

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4261 posts in 3013 days

#5 posted 07-08-2017 06:36 PM

It depends on were it is made. There is even some called BB made in America, Mexico and other countries.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Bill Szydlo's profile

Bill Szydlo

67 posts in 3139 days

#6 posted 07-08-2017 06:46 PM

I was surprised that Menard’s carry Baltic Birch. On the label it says BB/CP which I think refers to the outside veneer grade rather than a manufacturer but I could be wrong.

View MrUnix's profile


7448 posts in 2651 days

#7 posted 07-08-2017 06:51 PM

BB/BB: Single piece face and back. Both face and back veneers allow 3-6 small color-matched patches on average and some light mineral streaks. Tight pin knots may be present. Inner cores are solid single piece veneers.

BB/CP: Single piece face and back. The “CP” back veneers are downgraded from “BB” grade veneers, which allow for unlimited patches and sound knots, but does not allow for open defects. Inner cores are solid birch single piece veneers.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View Woodknack's profile


12870 posts in 2832 days

#8 posted 07-08-2017 08:42 PM

No BB at big box stores here either, just birch.

-- Rick M,

View Redoak49's profile


4102 posts in 2440 days

#9 posted 07-08-2017 08:42 PM

I agree with others and buy the real thing. I only use it for special jigs and builds. Getting the real thing makes a big difference.

For me, I have to drive about 40 miles and get mine at Owl Hardwood in Chicago. I typically buy 5×5 sheets of verbal different thickness so I always have some.

View JAAune's profile


1866 posts in 2768 days

#10 posted 07-09-2017 03:24 AM

It’s been awhile since I used plywood from Menards so I can’t remember much about it. The baltic birch the local hobby stores sell is pretty decent but the price is prohibitive at around $5 for a 12”x24”x1/4” piece. I get 60”x60” shipped to me from Raynor Rinn Scott at a much better price. Just got a bundle of 33 pieces in this week. It’s never perfectly flat and it’s not uncommon for one piece out of the bundle to have a veneer face that is brittle and flaky. There are occasional voids and I lost one part today due to a void showing up after I cut it out.

What I’ve never figured out is why the Europeans like 5’x5’ plywood. I’m just tall enough that I can grab the sheet across the span to move it. Shorter people would be hard pressed to pick up a sheet.

-- See my work at and

View MrRon's profile


5626 posts in 3695 days

#11 posted 07-09-2017 03:37 PM

I believe true Baltic birch will be called “Baltic birch” and come in 60”x60” sheets. That which is not “Baltic birch” will be called just birch and come in 48”x96” sheets. When you come across cut sizes, a 24’x48’ or 12”x24”, it has been cut from a 48”x96” sheet. Cut sizes of Baltic birch will be in increments of 15” which can be cut from a 60”x60” sheet. That is about all I know about birch.

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