Baltic Birch is a Hard Product to Compete Against
Russian Birch plywood prices are tripled at minimum. Moreover even paying the higher price isn't something the general market wants to do and support the Russian economy. So what are the alternatives? There aren't very many to be honest and this episode gets into why that is. Quality of the raw material coming from Boreal forests of Asia is top notch making for void free, beautiful Birch plywood. Lower cost of production adds to the difficulty in making a competing product. But mostly the time and capital required to build a new production line that will directly compete against the future rebirth of the Russian market at some point in the future is a risky business move. In the end finding alternatives to Russian Birch plywood unfortunately is a wait and see proposition. The best thing to do is to reassess what is important for your plywood needs and focus on a panel that is good at that particular attribute. This is at the core of my plywood series which I have linked to and listed below. It is difficult to find a panel that will do everything you need so you have to know what your priorities are to guide a buying decision.
Plus I answer a bunch of your questions on tree growth rate, why wood is anisotropic, and what to do with Buckeye. Poor Buckeye is another one of those species that has been labelled as "no good" yet a Google image search sure does show a lot of people making beautiful things from it. The tree growth rate page I found is particularly interesting for those thinking about planting a tree to be used for a project in the future. The featured image for this episode gives you a look at the medullary ray "spokes" in White Oak which should also help to illustrate why wood is anisotropic (good Scrabble word!) or moves differently in the radial vs tangential planes.
Also hearing from an architect about using urban lumber in reference to my recent interview with Cambium Carbon was particularly interesting and I would love to hear from anyone who has successfully answered the question of how to design to include urban logs when plywood based products dominate the market.
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Thomas Provencher says
Chris over at “A Glimpse Inside” has apparently started switching to Eucalyptus plywood as his Baltic Birch supply is beginning to dwindle for his various tool holders and other CNC machines parts. He seems to be pretty happy with it, maybe this can be an option for some people if they can get access to it.
Chris Paras says
Take a look at SpartanPly developed as a Baltic birch substitute. All joined interior veneers, all even multiply construction. Used by US manufacturers as a core platform Baltic birch substitute for plywood production. Produced from Hevea plantation trees (rubber wood), fully sustainable resource. Inventory now arriving and available at some distributors.