Tips for staining baltic birch ply?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Finishing forum

Forum topic by SMP posted 08-02-2019 05:09 PM 383 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SMP's profile


1333 posts in 382 days

08-02-2019 05:09 PM

In the past when I have used BB ply, I just clear coat since usually for cabinet drawers etc. I am making a hanging tool chest for the garage that I would like to make it look a little nicer than the utility look of BB ply. So was thinking of staining to give it a little more character. But don’t want it to look blotchy. It will be in the garage, so maybe too much indirect sun for dye. Was thinking maybe the Charles Neil conditioner and then an oil or gel stain? Anybody else stain BB ply with ok results?

7 replies so far

View sras's profile


5154 posts in 3605 days

#1 posted 08-02-2019 07:31 PM

I just finished dying baltic birch. Went on evenly – at least to my standards. You might want to try a test piece first…

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View LesB's profile


2168 posts in 3919 days

#2 posted 08-02-2019 09:52 PM

As a precaution I would seal it first with either a commercial pre-stain product or diluted shellac (cut to 2# mix or less). I would use a shellac primer…..just make sure it is de-waxed. Sald lightly after it drys and proceed with your stain.

-- Les B, Oregon

View Rich's profile (online now)


4796 posts in 1066 days

#3 posted 08-03-2019 12:02 AM

You can also tint a topcoat. I like lacquer, but you can tint other topcoats.

-- There's no such thing as a careless electrician

View CaptainKlutz's profile


1744 posts in 1971 days

#4 posted 08-03-2019 12:37 AM

+1 for a little bit of color, can easily tone the top coat (lacquer, shellac).

I find easy way to control blotching with dye stains on BB ply is to change my application process?

Use small 4 ounce detail gun and spray on even coat on the panel, and then quickly follow up by wiping with a rag dampened with 50/50 mix of acetone/alcohol to rub the color into the wood.
The lack of excess material prevents the more absorptive blotch prone areas from getting more color. The color stays more even, and I don’t need to add another finishing step to my schedule. If the color is uneven, can spray a little more on to lighter areas, and easily blend the desired color entire panel.

Should note that if you don’t rub the color into wood with damp rag, it doesn’t get into the grain very well and can look almost like painted panel with subtle wood grain behind it. Furthermore, if you sand a ‘non-rubbed in color’ surface, you will get blatant white spots as BB is exposed.

Using this spray process has worked for me with both; Transtint dyes, as well as Mohawk/Behlen’s WB dye stains. Never tried it with oil based pigment stains, as I get better control on color density with dyes? I also use this technique for blotch prone cherry wood projects, even when there is sealer applied first.

Can look at my recent router cabinet project for example of results on BB ply. There is pic of the side cabinet with a custom burgundy Transtint dye towards the bottom of post:
Click for details

Best Luck!

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View PeteStaehling's profile


97 posts in 1596 days

#5 posted 08-03-2019 11:29 AM

It has been quite a while since I have done it but I had good luck with ebonizing it. I forget all the details, but I think the BB required a tea treatment. I still have some pieces around that were treated and the color is nice. It was a messy process though.

It came out quite dark, but on some small pieces I sanded it until I got a lighter streaked color that i wanted. I think both were pretty.

None of this was on huge pieces since it was on either full size mountain dulcimers or small travel sized ones.

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

4111 posts in 1058 days

#6 posted 08-03-2019 11:49 AM

I’ve been very happy with a coat of linseed oil, two coats of 1# platina shellac to seal, then two or three or four coats of 2# orange shellac to tint, then a poly or varnish or wax over the top for my shop furniture. That’s what my rasp and file till and saw cabinet got. Add some sunlight over time, and they look pretty good to my eye.

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View PaulDoug's profile


2115 posts in 2180 days

#7 posted 08-03-2019 03:25 PM

I have had good, non-blotchy finishes on BB using whip on stain. I’ve used “General Finishes” and “Old Masters”. Using a pre-stain would probably help even more.

-- “We all die. The goal isn't to live forever; the goal is to create something that will.” - Chuck Palahniuk

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics