Author Topic: Questions on Baltic Birch  (Read 1507 times)

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Offline Rick Herrick

  • Posts: 525
Questions on Baltic Birch
« on: May 15, 2021, 11:11 AM »
This past week I got 3 sheets (5x5) of 1/2" Baltic Birch.  Was told it was graded BBB. This is my first use of it as I wanted to start using it for drawer construction.  A couple of things surprised me.  It was not 1/2", it was .480.  I had always heard BB was supposed to be right on the money for the listed thickness.  Also, I had 'footballs' on both sides.  Its obvious one side is better than the other and the 'good' side may have only had 2-3 footballs but that still bothers me.  If its being sold as cabinet grade plywood, shouldn't one face be 'football-less'?  I know it can't be perfect but if the piece required a repair on both sides, I think it needs to be downgraded in its grading. 

I don't know here, so thats why I am asking the questions.  My supplier is a super guy and will probably do something for me if I ask (he has before) but I wanted to see what the consensus is.

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Offline Svar

  • Posts: 2401
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #1 on: May 15, 2021, 11:44 AM »
BB is mertic. It's 12 mm, but called 1/2" in US.

Offline Birdhunter

  • Posts: 3479
  • Woodworker, Sportsman, Retired
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #2 on: May 15, 2021, 11:48 AM »
I buy B/BB. The B side does not have plugs. Usually needs light sanding 180 or 220 then paintable. The grading I see allows plugs on BB and lesser grades. The B/BB should never have any voids. This stuff has gotten pricy.

The 1/2” stuff is nominally 12mm or 0.472”. I don’t remember seeing true 1/2” BB.
Birdhunter

Offline MikeGE

  • Posts: 243
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2021, 11:53 AM »
If your baltic birch plywood has football patches on both sides, then you likely have BB/BB.  If you paid for B/BB, which allows for the patches on one side only, then you should return it for a refund or replacement.  If you don't want to do this, then I would lay out the pieces so the drawer faces don't have the patches.

Offline Rick Herrick

  • Posts: 525
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #4 on: May 15, 2021, 01:59 PM »
Thanks folks.  Guess I should have known it was metric, not imperial.  I will double check on the grades my guy uses and persue from there.  Another reason I like my supplier is hardwoods and plywoods have not risen at all.  I am guessing that if its construction material, price is going up but furniture type woods/plywoods its not.  When I went to HD a week ago, I saw their Radiata Pine at $57 per sheet when its usually $30.  But their oak and birch ply is still 55-56.  Wierd.

Offline Cheese

  • Posts: 8563
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #5 on: May 15, 2021, 02:02 PM »
Here's the cheat sheet I usually refer to.


Offline Rick Herrick

  • Posts: 525
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #6 on: May 15, 2021, 05:27 PM »
Here's the cheat sheet I usually refer to.
Appreciate that Cheese, thats good info.

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 1433
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #7 on: May 15, 2021, 10:13 PM »
This past week I got 3 sheets (5x5) of 1/2" Baltic Birch.  Was told it was graded BBB. This is my first use of it as I wanted to start using it for drawer construction.  A couple of things surprised me.  It was not 1/2", it was .480.  I had always heard BB was supposed to be right on the money for the listed thickness.  Also, I had 'footballs' on both sides.  Its obvious one side is better than the other and the 'good' side may have only had 2-3 footballs but that still bothers me.  If its being sold as cabinet grade plywood, shouldn't one face be 'football-less'?  I know it can't be perfect but if the piece required a repair on both sides, I think it needs to be downgraded in its grading. 

I don't know here, so thats why I am asking the questions.  My supplier is a super guy and will probably do something for me if I ask (he has before) but I wanted to see what the consensus is.

It's all metric. The situation you had is a classic issue in the US.  Businesses/retailers/people referring to something in inches when it's metric. This of course causes confusion, and makes it very hard to be sure what you are buying. Where I have bought it, same issue, and of course when you point out the issue, you get the "well, it's what we all called it" type answer.  Of course you can go to lowes and home depot with the same issue, they will list plywood in inch thicknesses (trade size thicknesses, not actual at that), even when it has it's actual metric size right on the plywood. Any of the "sand ply" and similar products are often from central America, yet the stores will call it 3/4 or 1/2 when it clearly is not.

This is why nothing should ever be dual dimensioned. Things were design to one or the other. One will always be a rounding/etc.  Just like the festool tools.  Even if some people may want inches, it doesn't change the fact the tools are metric. Putting inch labels on them just adds issues. Even if you are a huge fan of inches, and even want inch tools, you don't want things labeled in inches when it's not in inches.

If it's a is lumber in inches, keep it in inches, if it is in metric keep it in metric.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 398
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #8 on: May 19, 2021, 12:51 PM »
I buy B/BB. The B side does not have plugs. Usually needs light sanding 180 or 220 then paintable. The grading I see allows plugs on BB and lesser grades. The B/BB should never have any voids. This stuff has gotten pricy.

The 1/2” stuff is nominally 12mm or 0.472”. I don’t remember seeing true 1/2” BB.

I agree and it probably measures closer to the actual number of 0.472441"

I think American plywood probably hews to the same deception.

The 3/4" ply probably  measures an actual 18mm (0.708661) even though the 19mm is much closer to 3/4" (0.748031")

Offline DeformedTree

  • Posts: 1433
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #9 on: May 19, 2021, 04:50 PM »
I buy B/BB. The B side does not have plugs. Usually needs light sanding 180 or 220 then paintable. The grading I see allows plugs on BB and lesser grades. The B/BB should never have any voids. This stuff has gotten pricy.

The 1/2” stuff is nominally 12mm or 0.472”. I don’t remember seeing true 1/2” BB.

I agree and it probably measures closer to the actual number of 0.472441"

I think American plywood probably hews to the same deception.

The 3/4" ply probably  measures an actual 18mm (0.708661) even though the 19mm is much closer to 3/4" (0.748031")

if you are in US and Canada, most anything that comes from places outside of those 2 countries will be metric and be thicknesses like 18mm.  Plywood made here will generally fall under the APA thicknesses, but they look to use the mm thicknesses, even if nothing on them is labeled as such, and that system is 1mm off from what the rest of the world uses, so you get 13,15,17,19mm thicknesses.  Construction grade 3/4" will be like 17mm, and finish grade stuff will be 19mm.  APA has a inch based system, but I don't think any plywood I have ever bought follows it. It generally won't list any mm on it, but measurements show it's metric. I think all the plywood mills have decided to follow Canada.

Offline Packard

  • Posts: 398
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #10 on: May 19, 2021, 04:58 PM »
The 3/4" thick melamine clad particle board was very close to 3/4".  I will measure it when I get home.

Offline Crazyraceguy

  • Posts: 496
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #11 on: May 19, 2021, 06:28 PM »
The 3/4" thick melamine clad particle board was very close to 3/4".  I will measure it when I get home.

Yes, it is as well as the particle board that we get from actual suppliers, rather than home centers.
It is also 49 x 97 instead of the usual 4 x 8.

It is also available at 11/16" thickness, so that it can be laminated on both sides and still be very close to 3/4" thick after.
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Offline Packard

  • Posts: 398
Re: Questions on Baltic Birch
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2021, 08:21 AM »
The 49" x 97" applies to most particleboard products and MDF products.  Those items are very susceptible to edge damage.  With the extra inch of size the vendor can then say, "Yes, there is some edge damage, but that is the part of the board that you did not pay for.  You only paid for 48" x 96"."

It deals, at a fairly low cost, with complaints.