What's the big deal about Baltic Birch

I’ve had my Basic for about three years now and have heard a lot about Baltic Birch but just got some from Laser Wood to see what all the fuss was about. Still looking for it. I cut three identical pieces for my wife and her two sisters, two from Maple and one from BB. Frankly, I can’t tell the difference. If I were to mix them up and play “where’s the pea,” I wouldn’t be able to find the BB. So what’s all the fuss?


Consistency over time, sources, and pieces.

Many plys will end up with random voids, fillers, and/or glues that all make lasering….interesting. Legit Baltic birch ply has official regulated standards due to various industries that use it.

So run down to HD or Lowe’s and buy a random ply and who knows what you’ll find in the layers, BB you should (nearly) always be able to count on to be consistent much like GF’s Proofgrade.


Assuming you’re referring to Proofgrade Maple plywood, it has an MDF core while the BB is wood ply all the way through. And isn’t typically prefinished, which can be a huge plus in some use cases.


Consistency and strength. 3mm BB will always be 3 layers of birch veneer, glued together with the grain direction alternating between layers. 6mm BB will be 5 layers of birch veneer, glued together with the grain direction alternating between layers. No matter who you buy it from, if it’s Baltic Birch, that’s what you’re getting.

If you buy “maple plywood” from 2 different vendors, you could get maple veneer with an MDF core, maple veneer with a hardwood core, maple veneer with glitter and bits of metal in the core, maple veneer with a soy-based core (that’s the PureBond stuff). “Maple plywood” doesn’t tell you anything about how it’s made, just that it’s an engineered wood product with at least one maple veneer face.

The way BB is made gives it great strength for a thin plywood. It won’t want to split along the grain since the grain doesn’t all face the same direction. You can also get marine-grade BB which is made with water-resistant glues and will stand up to being outdoors longer than “maple ply” with an MDF core that puffs up and delaminates when it gets wet.

Sometimes MDF-core plywoods will have voids in the core that show up as empty areas in an engraving. I haven’t run into that with Baltic Birch yet. It’ll be a nice consistent color across the whole sheet:

The layered edge also looks nice in some projects.


what everyone else said. it’s about the consistency, strength, and quality of the core.

not to say you’ll never have an issue w/cutting BB, but it’s a lot less than other veneer filled plywood. it also used to be really reasonably priced. covid and supply chain issues killed that for a while, and the prices haven’t come back down to pre-covid levels, but it’s still a reasonably priced plywood.


I’m late to this thread as I’ve been doing stuff today. I should have been first so I won’t be a me too’er.

Anyways, for visual effects sometimes it is not the best but for making practical projects, and that is where my focus is, I get no voids 99% of the time and a thick outer ply.

Having cussed at the home improvement store plywood a lot I use BB for almost all of my projects.


That’s the key - every layer is birch. They’re almost all the same thickness so you can sand it and not burn through a micro-thin layer of veneer on the surface. Also knotholes are cut and patched and only allowed on one face.


The cheapest Baltic Birch came from Russia, so when they invaded Ukraine the volume available dropped considerably. I understand they were producing 4x8 sheets while everyone else was making the European standard sheets that are a different size.


I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a big fuss over Baltic Birch, so this has me chuckling. It’s not a glamorous wood. It doesn’t have an amazing grain or particular beauty. It just is what it’s supposed to be. Nothing fancy. It’s just a solid choice, low-fuss choice.


Wow, that’s some amazing feedback. Thanks, everyone. Maybe “fuss” was the wrong word to use. It was just that I saw so many people say “I made this on BB” and it made me wonder “why not Maple?” It just made me want to find out why. I also probably should have said the Maple and BB both came from Laser Wood, the Maple is 5/32" (4mm) and the BB 3.5mm (1/8" eh). So - if I’m understanding what you all said and reducing it to its lowest common denominator, the BB is kind of better all the way around due to the way it’s manufactured, layered, number of plys, strength (thank you, @dan84 for that second image, it was very informative) and so forth, correct? Not to say the Maple isn’t any good, but given a choice…


The three woods I use most are draftboard (okay, no not technically a wood?), BB and red oak. I just really like the way they all cut cleanly. And the BB is great for when you want to color something because of its light color. And I like the price. I found I could order 5ft x5ft sheets from a lumber company for cheaper than I could order it online, and although it takes me time to cut it down to size, I don’t mind that.


Yup, that was it! Cut into thirds it would be easier to transport, and still fit into a pro. :slightly_smiling_face:


Again, thanks to everyone for all the advice. I’ve really grown in just the last few hours. This thread has been a MAJOR learning experience for me. Thank you.


I think for me it’s because Baltic hits a sweet spot between price, uniformity, surface quality and strength.

By uniformity I mean both the construction and also the look of the surface. It tends to be a pretty blank slate without really strong grain patterns, and leads to engraves with decent contrast, where you want the engrave to be the star and not the wood.

For example: