Russian Birch Plywood – What You Need To Know!
russian birch plywood


Written by Maddie

Russian Birch plywood, is often referred to as Baltic Birch plywood. Baltic birch is a plywood product hailing from the north-eastern area of Europe around the Baltic Sea. However our product is shipped directly from a district in the Komi Republic, Russia. Real Russian Birch Plywood with FSC certification, it’s one of our best selling products – and we decided to write a blog to provide our customers with a better understanding of the benefits of Russian Birch Ply. 


Why is Russian Birch Plywood more expensive than regular plywood?

This question comes up alot and it basically comes down to the classic saying ‘you get what you pay for’. Unlike traditional plywoods the core is composed of layers of inner plies. The inner plies are made up of 1mm to 1.5mm solid birch veneers, which are cross-banded and then laminated with a very strong adhesive. This unique and clever recipe results in a void-free core – which as we all know is super important. 

The layers of solid birch veneers give Russian Birch Plywood an impressive strength-to-weight ratio. As a natural wood product all plywoods run the risk of warping, but the most common issue with plywood is bowing. Although Russian Birch is not immune to this, it has an advantage over other types of plywood due to the cross-banded layers of thick birch veneer. These veneers balance the sheet and provide a flatter product.

Why is Russian Birch ply used by Joiners?

Because it’s the best! This versatile product cuts and finishes well, making it a firm favourite with Joiners due to the void-free core and its screw-holding power. Because this product has birch veneers instead of a softer type of timber – screws can enter and hold with the entirety of the thread. The uniform layers also provide aesthetically pleasing joints.  You’ll notice the face and back veneers are considerably thicker than on other plywoods. The thicker veneers prevent the sheets from being easily damaged or sanded through. 

What’s so special about Russian Birch Ply?

The attractive appearance of Russian Birch Plywood has seen its popularity soar over the last couple of years. You may have noticed an increase in plywood furniture such as headboards, desks and shelving on channels such as Pinterest and Etsy. If you head over to Instagram you’ll also see a lot of European and Nordic suppliers showcasing homes with high-end floor plans using plywood for flooring, walls and to create unique spaces with a raw and modern aesthetic. We don’t think this trend will be disappearing anytime soon. 

russian birch plywood

Another fantastic advantage of using Russian Birch Plywood is that if you want to, you can leave the edges exposed, the beautiful uniform layers are quite striking and if you’re going for a contemporary look – you can just sand and finish the edges as they are.

Can I Stain Russian Birch ply?

Yes you can! Russian Birch ply has a lighter face than your typical plywoods but if you have a certain shade in mind, you can stain the face and back to achieve the desired effect. These boards are suitable for staining, but are commonly finished with clear lacquers or oils due to their light uniform appearance.

What grades of Russian Birch do you stock?

We carry the second highest grade which is BB/BB. The BB/BB grade means that both the face and the back veneers are single piece veneers with no splices. Both the face and back veneers can have up to 6 small color-matched patches, some light mineral streaks or tight pin knots. 

What do the Russian Birch Plywood grades mean?

B/BB: The highest grade of Russian Birch plywood. This grade has a single piece face and back veneer. The face veneers are clear and free of defects with a light consistent color. Slight discolouration is permitted. The back veneers allow for 3-6 colour matched patches, which are typically oval in shape and around the same size as an egg. The inner cores are comprised of solid birch single piece veneers. No external defects with a  maximum of 3 repair patches per M2.

BB/BB: The second highest grade of Russian birch ply.  Boasting a predominantly unfilled and sanded veneer. Single piece face and back. Both the face and back veneers on average allow for 3-6 small colour-matched patches and some light mineral streaks. Tight pin knots may be present. The inner cores are comprised of solid single piece veneers. All major defects are replaced with wood patches. A restricted number of solid minor knots are admissible along with small, closed splits

BB/CP: Single piece face and back. The “CP” back veneers are a downgrade from “BB” grade veneers, this allows for unlimited patches and sound knots, but in no way allows for open defects. The inner cores are comprised of solid birch single piece veneers.

CP/CP: Single piece face and back. Both the face and back grade veneers allow for unlimited sound knots and repaired splits and unlimited patches. The panel is sound on both sides and designed for laminating. Putty repairs and large defects are permitted. 

C/C: The lowest grade plywood. Not sanded, open defects of wood structure and processing defects are allowed. With this grade patches, open knots, and small veneer splits are allowed. Some veneer lap and small core voids are also permitted. This panel is not sanded and would be more suitable for structural purposes.

Will I find patches on Russian Birch Ply?

Yes, even on the highest grade you will find oval, egg shaped and irregular shaped patches on either side of the Russian Birch ply sheet. These patches are there to fix unsightly irregularities such as knots and discolouration. Thankfully, patches are colour matched – so typically they blend in to the rest of the panel.

Why Choose Russian Birch plywood over standard plywood?

With its formidable strength-to-weight ratio and its striking visual appeal, Russian Birch Plywood is suitable for a broad range of applications. These include but aren’t limited to  tables, drawer parts, cabinets, bookcases, floors, desks and more. Whatever you build out of Russian birch plywood will last for a very long time.

If you need a hand with your DIY project using Russian Birch Plywood – why not give our cut to size service a try.