I recently bought some Baltic birch and when I got it home discovered it
had "football" patches here and there. Not visible on a quick look under
store lighting, but obvious on close examination under good light.
I don't remember this problem with Baltic birch that I've bought in the
past. Was I just lucky before? Has the quality changed? Or did I get
something that claimed to be Baltic birch but was a cheaper approximation?
It does have the correct number of plies and fairly thick surface layers.
I told the clerk at Windsor Plywood that I needed good both sides, and he
said no problem. I can't take it back because I had them saw it into
pieces that fit in my car - and that my old muscles could handle :-).
You asked them to cut to size Baltic Birch ply with TWO GOOD SIDES. If
you cannot reconcile what you got with the term/standard TWO GOOD SIDES,
then I think Windsor Plywood has a problem, not you - irrespective of
the fact that those sheets have been cut down.
The problem may be that "good" is not inconsistent various of the
lettering strategies (AB, AC, etc.), that standardize the product . The
"football patches" do not necessarily mean "not good". My wife bought a
table, new from a store (for about $150), having a football patch on
top. I just accept that it is what it is. You'd never notice it unless
you went looking. If the quality purchased does not meet the standard
sold (to the OP), then he has a good argument for a return. One might
argue that the salesman didn't do his job properly, but surely the
burden is on the purchaser to understand what he is buying. The
adjective "good" is relative, I think (I am not an expert). Surely there
are few here that will back me up, or tell me I'm wrong--that "good" has
a specific meaning (it could be that "good" means A or B, I forget...).
"good" paint grade and "good" stain grade are two different things.
I've seen a lot of baltic birch with footballs. It will not have any
voids though - even defects in inner plies will have "footballs" to
Look under "grades" on the following table
Those "grades", as well as his or her eyes maybe : ), are what the
purchaser should be using in buying plywood. The grading helps
commoditize a product that is inherently Not uniform from one piece to
another. They/we cannot afford to just discard every piece that is not
Some of you may forgive my posting this even though I lack as much
experience as some others.
I know what plywood grades mean because it is related to my pocketbook!
If it's critical, inspect each sheet before purchase. There are so many
grading systems out there that just relying on the grading when you
don't know for sure what system was used is an invitation to disaster.
What I believe to be the latest standard for Baltic Birch grading can be
found at <http://www.abh-
Note Appendix A, which shows the relationship with prior grading
The highest grade of Baltic Birch I can find anywhere is variously B/BB
or AB/B (same grade, different edition of the standard) which allows
boat patches on the back.
I presume that E/I can be found somewhere, but I have no idea where.
Usually buy 5x5 Baltic Birch strictly for its structural integrity, and
for it's generally consistent plies with lack of voids, not for it's
face appearance, so patches are not considered a defect as long as I did
not spec B/BB.
If you specified B/BB, you would certainly have a case to get it
replaced. Nothing to lose by asking.
That said, plywood today is not the plywood of your youth ...
"Good" has about zero meaning in the world of lumber. Good to me means
it is good enough for what I plan on using it for. Good to a lumber
yard means people will buy it and they will make a profit. Wood grades
have specific meanings, and "good" is not a grade. Even within specific
grades, there is enough overlap/misgrading/lying that you can get
screwed if you don't look before you buy.
Having said all that, the clerk should have explained what grades they
carry and briefly what they meant, related to what you actually
Add Life to your Days not Days to your Life.
Last time I purchased some cabinet grade plywood and Baltic birch plywood I
was asked to examine the sheets before they were loaded on my vehicle to
ensure that they were not damaged nor have any defects. Whether it is
bananas or plywood or lumber, one should check to see if it meets your needs
(and price) before you purchase it.
Agreed. But the patches weren't easily spotted in the light available.
And I'd never had any problem before and I'd always bought from this
I can hide most of the patches but I will be discussing the problem with
the vendor next time I'm in the store.
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