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Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

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  • Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

    I need to build 9 drawers. 7 are @ 30x18x8 and 2 are @ 15x18x6. @65 linear feet. Buying all this in Poplar (S4S 3/4", 1x10) is @$300. Or, I can get 2 sheets of BB ply for $45/sheet or under $100. All corners will be half-blind jig/router made dovetails.

    It isn't just the price since Poplar tends to cup and the plywood would not cup.

    Anyone that has built drawers with ply do you feel like you "cheaped" out?

    What would you pick?
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  • #2

    Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

    I would go with BB ply over solid wood.
    Last edited by DavidR8; 07-22-2020, 04:28 PM.
    smallerstick likes this.

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    • #3

      Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

      Originally posted by DavidR8 View Post
      I would go with BB ply over solid wood.
      That is where I am leaning. Would you use 1/2" or 3/4"?

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      • #4

        Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

        Originally posted by WoodBob View Post

        That is where I am leaning. Would you use 1/2" or 3/4"?
        1/2" for use with 'normal' weight type of items. 3/4" for heavy items. I'm making workshop cabinet drawers using 1/2" except for drawers that store heavy items such as lathe chucks.
        Last edited by DavidR8; 07-22-2020, 05:02 PM.
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        • #5

          Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

          One of our professional members (Andrew Coholic) uses Basswood as I recall. Basswod, properly milled and dried tends to be very stable, very light and as strong as any other solid wood. You may want to price it out? Basswood grows all over the north-east and should be as inexpensive as anything else.

          ... just a thought ....
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          • #6

            Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

            Ive used 1/2 bb ply. Keep in mind you will have to back it up when cutting your dovetails on the jig as it likes to blow out.


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            • #7

              Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

              BB without question. You could even use pre-finished drawer stock from your local hardwood supplier. On a 30" drawer I would use 5/8 (15mm) or 3/4 (18mm). I also like the
              under mount slides


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              • #8

                Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

                I make a lot of kitchen drawers. The new Residence build I am working now has 64 drawers including 4 vanities and a kitchen. I use hard maple for most of my drawers and once and a while will do some in cherry. Not sure why your poplar is cupping. Have never used it for drawers but properly kiln dried poplar has never cupped on me. Not a big fan of softwoods or BB . I use 5/8 material for all drawers. Part of my dislike for BB drawers is I find the dovetails cause a lot of tear out while routing and the bits seem to dull real quick.
                If your dreams don't scare you, you are not dreaming big enough

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                • #9

                  Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

                  I use BB ply 1/2" and have built about 30 drawers with it. Longest I have built with the 1/2" is 29 1/2". But based on the strength of those drawers I would be comfortable with a bit longer as well.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

                    Good point I missed above, I agree that trying to use a router for dovetails in BB is problematic with lots of tear-out. I Build all of mine with finger joints cut on table saw with a backer to support the cut. This gives a nice clean cut and the finger joint is quite strong.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

                      Originally posted by GlennS, St Clair Beach View Post
                      Good point I missed above, I agree that trying to use a router for dovetails in BB is problematic with lots of tear-out. I Build all of mine with finger joints cut on table saw with a backer to support the cut. This gives a nice clean cut and the finger joint is quite strong.
                      Would blue painter's tape on the routed ends stop the tear-out if dove-tailing? With a table-saw finger joint did you clamp a number of pieces together to do more than one at a time? I would have a total of 72 ends to joint.

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                      • #12

                        Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

                        My local lumber store sells Russian Birch plywood, and they claim it's just as good. I haven't compared it yet, but it sure looks the same, and it comes in the same 5' x 5' dimension. I suppose the name "Baltic" is a protected trademark, so if the wood comes from across the Russian border, they have to get around the trademark. And it's unlikely to be hit with tariffs.

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                        • #13

                          Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

                          Here on the West Coast of US BB and Russian usually refers to the same material. I've yet to find a supplier here that stocks Finland Birch which was what we used back in the day. Other than that I've ordered full units of Italian Popular ply and Europly. 1/2" 5X5 BB here can be had for about $23. Also the 4X8 sheets of BB use different glue, looks more like a urea resin, dark glue line, water proof, better layers.

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                          • #14

                            Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

                            I've built drawers with both, I have not had my poplar cup on me, but I also didn't pay that much for the poplar. It was cheaper for me to get rough and finish it myself, but I am guessing that isn't an option for you.
                            I don't know what you are planning on doing with the drawer fronts where these are going, but for the cost, I would be inclined to go with the BB. For inside a drawer, I have never felt like I cheaped out on the inside. So long as it looks good on the outside

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                            • #15

                              Re: Baltic Birch Plywood or Poplar?

                              Originally posted by kenscabs View Post
                              Here on the West Coast of US BB and Russian usually refers to the same material. I've yet to find a supplier here that stocks Finland Birch which was what we used back in the day. Other than that I've ordered full units of Italian Popular ply and Europly. 1/2" 5X5 BB here can be had for about $23. Also the 4X8 sheets of BB use different glue, looks more like a urea resin, dark glue line, water proof, better layers.
                              There was a thread on Russian Ply in 2008 ...

                              https://forum.canadianwoodworking.co...ply#post202929

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