When it comes to choosing the right wood for your next project, the choices seem like they are endless. One particular type you might want to consider is Birch Faced Plywood. It has a number of useful features, as well as being ecologically sound.
Birch plywood is a popular choice for a wide range of woodworking projects, but what exactly is it that gives it the edge over other materials? Today we are taking a look at the advantages of using birch Plywood sheets. The product consists of several sheets of birch veneer glued together with resin. There are usually three or four layers of veneer which give the wood durability, which is why it is often used in children’s playgrounds or around the house in various pieces of furniture.
What is it?
It’s a multi-ply product in the form of a panel. Constructed from multiple layers of thin birch veneer, it is known for being very strong. The layers are stuck together using glue and because there are so many layers the finished product has a much higher glue content when compared with other types of plywood panel. It’s very pale in colour and has a fine, well-sanded finish. This means it can be customised in a number of different ways. Further sanding is possible as well as staining or painting, depending on customer requirements. This type of plywood is also a very strong material and has excellent mechanical and physical properties.
Many of the advantages of Birch plywood sheets are a result of the way that it is made. Unlike MDF which is made from small materials, Birch plywood uses veneers that are sandwiched together, usually at right angles to the layer above or below, also known a ‘cross bonded’. This results in a product with a void-free core which gives it greater strength and more resistance to shrinkage.
It is important to note that although this isn’t a solid piece of wood when purchasing birch plywood sheets you are not compromising on quality. Indeed, the strength and aesthetic appeal of the wood means that it is often used in high-quality pieces of furniture.
How is it made?
This type of plywood is made using solid birch veneers. Final finish is provided by quality birch veneer which is overlaid on either side. The thin layers are known as ‘piles’ and are glued together. When another layer is added the wood grain will be rotated up to 90 degrees, before being glued. This is called cross-graining and is done to reduce splitting, expansion and shrinkage. Outer layers of the plywood panel will always be birch, but sometimes internal layers will be substituted with other woods. Resulting panels will be much lighter and cheaper. Alternate layers will usually be made from spruce.
What can it be used for?
Because of its strength, fine grain texture and ease of finishing, this particular plywood is very popular in construction, furniture and vehicle manufacture and packaging. It also has a number of other precision engineering applications it is used for.
In today’s eco-conscious world, there is another reason for the popularity of this product. Birch happens to be a very fast-growing and abundant, temperate species of tree. There are plenty of well managed, certified plantations from which to source the raw material. Such plantations protect biodiversity and sustainability while the trees are growing and being harvested. There will also be a replanting cycle.
Strength and Stability
Due to its cross-banded layers of veneer, Birch plywood is much more resistant to warping and bowing than other plywood, especially in thicker sheets. Its void free core also means that screws bite and hold with 100% of their threads leading to better screw holding, this makes it a great choice for long-term use.
Birch plywood has an elegance to it, thanks to its smooth, pale finish which leaves a beautiful sheen on any product made from it. This lovely finish means that the wood can be treated in any way that the maker or purchaser see fit, this wood looks just as good if left untreated as it does varnished. It can be shaped, sanded and finished, resulting not only in an attractive finish but also saving time and materials. Birch plywood also looks just as pleasing aesthetically with little work done on the finish than it does with lots of time spent smoothing and sanding it out. With this wood, you can enjoy any finish which is down to personal preference. Plus, here at Theo’s Timber, we offer several grades of birch plywood sheets, the highest grade being B/BB which benefits from a whole piece face with a uniform colour and no knots, streaks or patches. This means you can achieve the exact finish that you want. There are a number of grades of birch veneer available. If, however, you wish to apply a decorative veneer to it, this is also not a problem as it accepts paper backed veneer well.
Birch trees are a fast-growing species native to North Eastern Europe, the abundance and speed of growth of Birch trees means that it causes minimal devastation or destruction of biodiversity when they are cut down, making Birch plywood a sustainable choice that has little impact on the environment.
There is an abundance of birch trees throughout Northern Europe and they are a fast-growing species. It makes sense environmentally to use trees that are readily available and can be replaced quickly because it limits the disruption to inhabitants of the forests when these trees are felled.
Considered against their wide availability and speed of replacement it could be argued that birch plywood sheets are a renewable source of wood and therefore, should be considered above other woods where their use has a negative impact on the environment. Plus, we are committed to protecting the environment and strictly adhere to environmental legislation. You can be sure you are making the best decision for the environment if you purchase any timber products from ourselves.
Birch plywood is considered as one of the safest woods out there, so much so that it is the most popular choice of wood for use in creating children’s toys or playground equipment as there are no jagged edges and knots. This safety record is all down the finish of the wood, which is smooth and not liable to crack or splinter. Birch plywood is also well-known for not suffering from knots or jagged edges, which makes it one of the safest woods to work with.
Thanks again to its void free core, joinery such as dovetail joints is easy to do and also looks great. Glue coverage is also easy meaning that anything built in this way should last well.
Birch plywood is available in Lazer Grade, its large sheets that and consistent density makes Birch plywood ideal for cutting on a laser bed.
When you use birch plywood you can achieve a beautiful finish with a wood that is durable, safe and will look just as good in many years to come. Yet this wood is one of the most cost-effective woods out there on the market.
If you would like to learn more about birch plywood, do not hesitate to contact us at Theo’s Timber Limited. We will be more than happy to answer any questions.