I am making an entertainment center out of teak. It will have 6 drawers,
each with a teak drawer face attached to the 1/2" plywood drawer. I have
seen ApplePly in drawers and it looks very nice. I have used baltic birch
and it is less nice. The ApplePly is pretty expensive. I am wondering if
there is a nice way I could finish the baltic birch or should I spring for
I would value your opinion if you have worked with ApplyPly and/or Baltic
Only you know the answer. You are spending a bunch of money for teak, so why
not spend the extra for the wood you really want. Same labor for either,
but if it will nag you down the road that apple would have been better, is
is best to do that now.
Go back to the original concepts of a drawer. It holds stuff. If there are
no big holes for the content to fall out, any wood or sheet goods will do.
Start with particle board covered with shelf paper and work up from there
until your wallet starts to smolder.
Well, if one is spending the $$ for the casework, why would you scrimp
on secondary wood(s) and/or hardware or anything else, for that matter?
IMO, unless the drawer sides are so tall as to make solid material a
real likelihood for bowing, to me there's nothing that says "shortcut"
like ply drawer boxes whether Baltic or Appleply or whatever.
The Appleply does finish and look somewhat better than does the B-B
owing to the solid strips so doesn't have the plies showing w/o banding
as does the B-B but you're at mercy as to which grain direction will be
showing unless make certain to get a particular orientation one edge and
then cut to width for the other...
Personally, I'd probably use white oak for the visible secondary wood; I
like the grain contrast w/ teak.
Just $0.02, ymmv, imo, etc., etc., etc., ...
In that case, don't ever look for ebony, tulipwood, blackwood,
kingwood, or ziricote. You can max out a credit card and still be
able to haul it home on your motorcycle. I don't own enough crowbars,
wallets, or credit cards for any of that stuff.
And check out the plantation teaks at half the price. Not as rich
looking, but nice. One source (random/std. disclaimer applies)
Know how to listen, and you will
profit even from those who talk badly.
I built a prototype sideboard a few years back and, because it was a
prototype, made the drawers out of Baltic birch using a locking rabbet
It is still sitting in my dining room, much too gorgeous to call it a
prototype any longer, and I'm here to say that I'm perfectly happy with
the Baltic birch drawers in that piece, and that not one of the many
admirers have even noticed, or ever even remarked upon, the plywood drawers.
Keep in mind that I personally build a minimum of a few dozen, hardwood,
dovetail drawers a year to go in high end kitchens ... so I'm not all
that easy to please.
In short, a good argument can be made that anything well made will stand
on its own regardless of the material.
Something to consider, it has been said that ApplePly is the American
version of Baltic Birch. Most manufacturers try to copy Baltic Birch and
many yards market all kinds of stuff as Baltic Birch and in all actuality it
is not the real McCoy. No doubt your opinion of what looks good is what
counts. However, there is the distinct possibility that what you were
looking at was not Baltic Birch rather a "look a like" being sold as Baltic
Birch. Generally the real Baltic Birch is very flat with no voids and does
not have a fuzzy surface appearance.
You may well be right. It was the fuzzy feel to the surface that turned me
off. There is a high quality plywood supplier, Boulter, in the Boston area.
Kind of a long trek but they have a LOT of different kinds of plywood. I
think a field trip there would help me settle this question in my mind.
Took my field trip to Boulter plywood in Boston. Their Baltic Birch was
wonderfully smooth -- no fuzz. I bought what I needed for my project and
learned an important lesson. Go to a quality supplier if you need a quality
product as all BB is NOT the same.
BTW: they could not order any ApplePly from Boulter despite lots of calls
and they are probably the biggest plywood retailer in Massachusetts if not
Proper Baltic Birch, from Finland, is available in many grades all the
way from sub-floor grade to 'no knots, not even on the inner plies'.
Some hairy, some smooth. some flat, some bowl-shaped and almost
impossible to use in drawers..... all from the same Finnish sources.
And as long as each birch tree is different, whether from the side of
a rocky hill or from a dried, sheltered lake bed..the stuff _will_ be
When I was building a lot of loudspeaker enclosures, I visited many
plywood suppliers looking for that perfect material. I saw 5 x 5
sheets, of similar thickness, in at least 5-6 grades and priced
Not to pick nits, Leon, but even the 'real thing' is all over the
I would therefore assume that a nice slab of Canadian birch plywood is
nicer than a crappy 'real' Baltic Birch slab.
</end gratuitous nationalistic plug>
While we are on about BB, I wanted to see what experience people have had
finishing it. I want it to be very blonde. My finishing book by Flexner says
that water based finishes will leave it the most blonde with no color
imparted to the wood. It will also be more work as the water in water based
finishes raises the grain but Flexner was very specific about how to deal
Has anyone found a way they like to finish BB? These will be shallow
drawers, 5" high, to hold CDs in the teak entertainment center I am
building. The faces of the drawers (7" high) will have pieces of solid teak
attached. I think the teak would be nicely offset by a finished BB that
hasn't any color added to it.
I spray my BB drawer boxes with 2 coats pre-cat lacquer over a vinyl
sanding sealer(sherwinn williams system). Its reliable, quick and
smooth as glass. Exceeds Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association
(KCMA) durability standards.
But how much color does it impart? I've never seen a precat that was
water clear in the same way as an untinted waterborne polyurethane. I
see that Sherwin-Williams does have a "Kemvar LF" and a "Sher-Wood Water
White" conversion varnish but both have to be catalyzed shortly before
use and don't have much pot life after catalyzation.
My advice to the OP is "find a real paint store and ask them what to use
that meets KCMA standards to get the effect you want".
Personally I think I'd go for a contrast--BB is a light colored wood and
teak is a light colored wood although darker than BB and there wouldn't
IMO really be much "offsetting". I think a darker finish on the BB
might be better. Or just paint the insides of the drawers white (make
sure to use a "non-blocking" finish).
My teak is somewhat dark though it will lighten with sun light over time and
my entertainment center will be in a room that gets a lot of sunlight. I
think I want to leave the drawers very blonde. My kitchen has rather dark
cherry cabinets and very blonde drawers -- I like the contrals. My paint
store recomends either of these two products:
Deft's Waterborne clear wood finish
Varathane clear wood finish
I guess I will get a can and experiment.
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