Q: Is there a difference between Baltic birch plywood and birch plywood?
A: Actually, there are many differences between off-the- shelf birch plywood and true Baltic birch. The first one’s easy to see: Baltic birch plywood has about twice the number of plys as birch plywood, and usually the plys are made entirely of birch. All those plys and glue layers create a high density, extremely strong and generally flat product. Baltic birch is manufactured in several thicknesses and normally in 5-ft. x 5-ft. sheets.
The birch veneer plywood you find at home centers or lumberyards is really only birch on the surface. The substrate plys are made of poplar or other hardwood. The veneer strata are thicker, and with fewer ply layers there are fewer glue layers. It’s not as stiff as Baltic birch, but it’s also not as heavy.
If you’re building precision jigs or templates, Baltic birch is definitely the way to go, but it costs more. For cabinet construction or shop use, birch veneer plywood will work fine. I sometimes find Baltic birch or a close equivalent at my local home center, but a specialty dealer or woodworking store is often the only place to get it.