Birch vs Maple (Solid Wood)

42190.1
Hi, all -
I had a customer ask about using birch in a furniture project and I discovered that birch (solid wood, not plywood) isn't near as available as most other woods I've used. My first reaction is to respond that the visual differences between birch and maple are pretty slight, but wanted to ask this group about the workability of birch.
I've used hard maple in a number of project and found it very hard, which makes any little flaw difficult to get rid of. How does it compare to birch?
Second question, why is birch used so much in plywood, but solid wood is less available. I'm in western Ohio and have access to a number of good sawmills, within 25 - 75 miles and none of them list birch in their inventory.
Thanks for you help.
Les
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IMHO Birch is a "paint grade" wood similar to "Poplar". Very often to most of the time Birch plywood is cheaper than most any other plywood and often gets painted.
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I have used birch as a 'build' wood for maple cabinets. It is plentiful around SW Ontario and a nice piece of birch is nicer than a mediocre piece of soft maple. I find that birch finishes well, stays reasonably stable and takes stain better than maple. And you're right, sometimes they're hard to tell apart. In the 50's, they would do floors around here in a mix.. whatever board they grabbed next. I like birch.
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I agree with Robatoy. Birch is a great furniture wood. I use it for all my draws. Since I build my draws with hand cut dovetails I need a hard, stable and workable wood. Birch is an ideal fit. It can have a creamy white to brown color, takes stain well, but I like to finish it with Waterlox Original tung oil. It is also ideal for shelves in hardwood furniture.
Joe...... web: www.srww.com blog: www.srww.com/blog
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I like birch better than maple, seems it dry's easier in the kiln (stay's straight) but depending on what I'm doing there is nothing I like better than a good piece of ash. ross
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"Ross Hebeisen" wrote:

"Rastus, what do you like bestus?"
"Well Rufus, I like asbestos."
Courtesy of Red Foxx.
Lew
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andy: amus what you doing unda dat table? amus: why I's lay'in linoleum andy: well hellooo linoleum
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On Jun 13, 2:35am, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (Ross Hebeisen) wrote:

I quite like ash. Cherry is still my absolute favourite wood, and I like some of the figured maples, bird's eye on the back of a Les Paul for instance...looks like embedded pearls. But I have bought and used some birch which ws quilted, and stained up very nicely. I'll dig through my files and see if I can't find a picture of a kitchen I built, all birch.
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Hey Robatoy I've been selling a quite a bit of bookmatch black ash to luthiers one of my guy's built a guitar outta ash burl, you can see it on my website. www.highislandexport.com ross
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On Fri, 13 Jun 2008 09:06:05 -0700 (PDT), Robatoy

I absolutely love ash!
Totally under rated if you want a light, bright look!
It holds up well as a light wood, don't kill it with stain.
--------------------------------------------- ** http://www.bburke.com/woodworking.html ** ---------------------------------------------
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Chiefwoodworker skreiv: <snip>

A sweet book about birch: <URL:(Amazon.com product link shortened)>
Birch is used a lot for furniture where I live (Norway), usually with a clear finish or stain. It's a very common tree, found everywhere. Paint grade furniture is usually pine (probably the second most common tree), spruce beeing the most common, mostly used for building houses.
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Please continue to use Birch, as I like the Birch beer soft drink! Birch is plentiful in PA! But so is Birch beer. Birch and maple are pretty much indistinguishable from each other. I use mixes of it all the time in furniture.
Rebus Knebus

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There are maples, and there are birches.
Hard maple (sugar and some other varieties) is much more like the hard birches (black/cherry/sweet birch and yellow birch) than it is soft maple. Soft maple and white birch are more like each other than they are the other members of their respective families.
The hard birches are not quite as hard as the hard maples, but they're close.
The birches don't generally grow as large as the maples, so they are more often cut into veneers for plywood.
All are readily available in lumber form here (Maine).
John Martin
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