Flame Birch - Difficult for beginner?

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Forum topic by rbterhune posted 11-09-2012 06:49 AM 3915 views 0 times favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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176 posts in 3992 days

11-09-2012 06:49 AM

Topic tags/keywords: question flame birch

I really would like to make a dresser out of flame birch. I’m relatively new to woodworking with only one project under my belt.

How difficult is this wood to work? Is it recommended for newbies? Will a card scraper be my best friend for this wood?


7 replies so far

View MedicKen's profile


1615 posts in 4233 days

#1 posted 11-09-2012 11:10 AM

As long as blades are sharp you will be fine.

-- My job is to give my kids things to discuss with their [email protected]

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3347 days

#2 posted 11-09-2012 11:42 AM

You should be fine. It machines very easily IME.
Sort of like curly maple.

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2881 days

#3 posted 11-09-2012 12:15 PM

Along with the previously mentioned sharpness on hand and power tools, you can also sand figured birch and maple to a much higher polish. I’ve sanded them to 320 and 400 dry, then 600 and 1000 after sealing with 1 lb shellac or lacquer sanding sealer. With other woods, this is a waste of time, but it really lights up the flames.

My first experience with figured birch taught me the difference between sharp for oak and walnut, and sharp for figured stuff, on my jointer and thickness planer.

How are you going to finish it? Finishing highly figured woods can be different…

View lab7654's profile


266 posts in 3017 days

#4 posted 11-09-2012 12:25 PM

I haven’t worked with it, but I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome if you decide to use it!

-- Tristin King -- When in doubt, sand it.

View rbterhune's profile


176 posts in 3992 days

#5 posted 11-10-2012 06:55 AM

CesnaPilot…don’t have a clue on finishing yet…just now beginning to think about the project. Thanks for the advice.

View OggieOglethorpe's profile


1276 posts in 2881 days

#6 posted 11-10-2012 02:23 PM

Save those scraps!

Finishing flamed woods means riding the “blotch” to your advantage. The figure soaks up dye and oil at different rates, accentuating the figure. What’s a “problem” on other woods is a feature on figured birch and maple.

View SteviePete's profile


226 posts in 4073 days

#7 posted 11-12-2012 09:45 PM

I’d suggest doing a few shop projects with yellow birch (flame birch is usually Betula alleganiensis) first. Google bench hook, sawbench, winding sticks, corner measure, and an assortment of handles—saw, plane—tote and knob, chisel, cleaver and machete’ It will be a lot more fun than fighting with hard, expensive, and difficult stock. Just make some stuff where you can determine your own “Standard of Excellence nee Acceptance” Good luck

-- Steve, 'Sconie Great White North

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