Baltic Birch question

This is probably a duh question, but I get a little paranoid about the safety of materials, so bear with me. :grimacing:
Is all Baltic birch laser safe? My local lumberyard has 5x5 sheets of 1/4" Baltic birch that would come in handy for quite a few projects. I just don’t want to be lasering something that will produce toxic fumes and they don’t have the safety sheet for it.

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Ask for the MSDS from the store. I got mine, and it showed nothing horrible as combustion byproducts. People cut BB a lot (myself included) … doesn’t mean it’s safe exactly, but if it isn’t we’re all going down together :wink:

@jgf said it well in another thread about stuff like this:

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Baltic Birch is very commonly used for laser cutting. It should be completely safe, unless your lumber yard has some odd brand with toxic glue.

Ask your vendor if the glue is phenol formaldehyde or resorcinol formaldehyde. Those glues are best avoided, but not especially common. Any other type (even if they have the word “formaldehyde” in them) are suited for laser.

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If it’s real BB it should be. BB is a manufactured product under a defined standard (set by the Europeans) that should be good. It’s like the region definitions for wine.

But, we’re seeing some non-European manufacturers making “Baltic Birch” that doesn’t meet the standard. The Russians are doing some sketchy stuff as well as at least one American firm that I’ve seen. Those tend to be 4x8 (or other non-5x5 standard) sized though.

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Thanks guys! The lumber yard is supposed to be contacting the manufacturer for the safety sheet. They said they thought it was from Russia. Guess I’ll see what they come up with!

Plus the differences between Baltic Birch plywood and “just plain ol’ birch plywood.” I get the feeling that many newer woodworkers think they are the same thing…

I buy half and quarter sheets of birch ply at Home Depot quite often, but one quick look at the price tags will tell you if it’s Baltic Birch. $$$

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They ordered the 5x5 1/4" sheets of Baltic birch–they’re around $30 a sheet. They kept asking me why I don’t just use a saw when I was explaining it was going in a laser…lol

They just sent me this.

Urea-based glue is safe for laser.

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Interesting that it’s “Russian Birch Plywood” and they’re saying that Baltic Birch is a “trade name”. It’s actually a very specifically defined product. Kind of like Champagne has to come from the Champagne region of France to be anything more than bubbly wine. (Most other “champagne” from other regions claim only that they follow the “method” and except in the US don’t call themselves Champagne.)

The EU definition is very specific about things like knots, voids, glues, sizes, etc.

I’d try some of what they have before buying a ton of it.

Also try to get some 6mm (1/4" nominal) to try. Variations from the standard have much more of an impact because you need more of the laser’s total capability (power) to cut through consistently.

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I thought that was interesting also. I’ll ask them if they can order any besides the Russian variety also. I guess I’ll give this stuff a shot in the meantime!
Thank you all for being so helpful!

Thanks for easing my mind! I got to reading online and there’s so much varying information that I was getting seriously confused about what exactly to look for.

Holy Canoli’s…I just bough 2 sheets of 3mm BB, 5x5 sheets, for $9 and change from out local lumberyard. Haven’t cut it yet, but I can tell you it is beautiful!

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