Jump to content

  •  

CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.

Photo

Menards Baltic Birch - as good as the 'real thing'?

  • Please log in to reply
27 replies to this topic

#1 bbasiaga

bbasiaga

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 946
  • Joined: 10 May 2006

Posted 23 February 2021 - 08:59 AM

Menard sells, via special order, baltic birch sheets that are 4x8, instead of the traditional 5x5 sheets.  I have a place that is about an hour away that I can get 5x5 sheets from, but getting them home is the issue.  My pickup has a permanent cap so the won't go in the back.  I looked at my mom's minivan, and it looks like it might JUST barely make it in there with all the seats out.  

 

If the Menards stuff is structurally equivalent, then its easy and way more convenient.  Has anyone used it recently?  Is it the equivalent to  'real deal'?  

 

Thanks,
Brian



#2 starcanoe

starcanoe

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,668
  • Joined: 07 Nov 2013
  • Loc: Gulf Coast, Panhandle of Florida

Posted 23 February 2021 - 09:03 AM

Seems an obvious possible solution to your problem so forgive me if the answer is something you have already thought about and the answer is no.

 

Will such dimensions fit in your vehicle if you place the sheet tilted sideways and not laying flat?

 

Or perhaps you have a good idea of what the sheet is going to be used for and just make enough cuts on site to get the material in your vehicle?



#3 wrnchhead

wrnchhead

    Mercury-Atlas

  • *****
  • Posts: 2,728
  • Joined: 28 Aug 2017
  • Loc: NE Kansas

Posted 23 February 2021 - 09:06 AM

I bought some birch plywood from Menards, it isn't 13 ply like the "good" stuff. Seems like I remember it's 5 ply. There is a lumberyard in a neighboring town who carries the stuff I actually want, but they are of course, only open when I'm at work. 

 

I have never been around actual Baltic birch in person, but the Menards stuff is...ok. I don't know if it makes a difference. Personally I'm going to wait till I have a day off to go get the proper stuff. 


  • wrvond likes this

#4 Stargazer

Stargazer

    Ranger 4

  • *****
  • Posts: 395
  • Joined: 30 Jun 2006
  • Loc: NewBrunswick, Canada

Posted 23 February 2021 - 09:27 AM

Baltic birch come in many different sizes,and yes you can get it in 4 x 8 sheets, if it has the right amount

of plys per thickness it is good, the 5 and 7 ply birch is not the good stuff, the birch on those are the outer

covering of a softwood core.

All you need to know is how many plys in a 3/4" thickness sheet, if it has that then you are good.


  • wrnchhead likes this

#5 TOMDEY

TOMDEY

    Cosmos

  • *****
  • Posts: 8,794
  • Joined: 10 Feb 2014
  • Loc: Springwater, NY

Posted 23 February 2021 - 10:03 AM

The real original material looks like this and is wonderful to work with. I inventoried my leftovers a couple of days ago. It has zero voids, and doesn't pucker like the cheap typical stuff you find in the home centers. Once you use this stuff, will never go back to the common junk. The 18mm 5'x5' sheets currently list for nearly $80/sheet.    Tom

Attached Thumbnails

  • 93.1 Tom's leftover stuff baltic birch plywood.jpg

  • Augustus and wrnchhead like this

#6 bbasiaga

bbasiaga

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 946
  • Joined: 10 May 2006

Posted 23 February 2021 - 10:04 AM

Menard sells, via special order, baltic birch sheets that are 4x8, instead of the traditional 5x5 sheets.  I have a place that is about an hour away that I can get 5x5 sheets from, but getting them home is the issue.  My pickup has a permanent cap so the won't go in the back.  I looked at my mom's minivan, and it looks like it might JUST barely make it in there with all the seats out.  

 

If the Menards stuff is structurally equivalent, then its easy and way more convenient.  Has anyone used it recently?  Is it the equivalent to  'real deal'?  

 

Thanks,
Brian

Yes I measure the angle and its going to be close.  I should bring a story stick with me next time I go over there to see.  I'd just hate to get out there and figure out it wasn't going to fit. The van is modified for wheel chair accessibility, so it has some funky dimensions in places. 

 

-Brian



#7 bbasiaga

bbasiaga

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 946
  • Joined: 10 May 2006

Posted 23 February 2021 - 10:07 AM

The real original material looks like this and is wonderful to work with. I inventoried my leftovers a couple of days ago. It has zero voids, and doesn't pucker like the cheap typical stuff you find in the home centers. Once you use this stuff, will never go back to the common junk. The 18mm 5'x5' sheets currently list for nearly $80/sheet.    Tom

Agreed.  This will be my third telescope with the stuff, so I am familiar with the material. I guess my question is just wether the menards baltic birch that you special order from the website is the stuff with the right number of plys.  I figured someone here has ordered it. Their website doesn't list the # of plys.  

 

wrnchead, did you get your stuff from the stock in the store?  My menards carries a birch ply like you describe in the store and it is not what I'm looking at.  

 

-Brian



#8 Cap'n Mechanical

Cap'n Mechanical

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 208
  • Joined: 12 Apr 2018
  • Loc: St. Louis

Posted 23 February 2021 - 10:49 AM

Menards says 13 ply in the specifications.



#9 HunterofPhotons

HunterofPhotons

    Surveyor 1

  • *----
  • Posts: 1,507
  • Joined: 26 Apr 2008
  • Loc: Rhode Island, USA

Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:25 AM

You don't say where you live or what you're going to do with this plywood.

Big box stores are generally not the place where you want to buy good quality plywood.

Do you have a lumber yard near you?  All of the lumber yards that I've known have been able to order the more exotic plywoods from the big plywood dealers.

Plywood strength is directly related to the number of plies.  Plywoods are also rated as to the number of voids in the interior plies and whether they are plugged.

Real baltic birch plywood is a much better product than the other stuff but the other stuff may not result in a catastrophic result for your project.  It depends on what you're building.

You have a pickup truck with a cap.  You could always put a 5 x 5 sheet on top of the cap to get it home.

Are there any woodworking shops near you?  Almost all of them have baltic birch plywood hanging around.

There are more than two solutions to your problem.

 

dan k.



#10 bbasiaga

bbasiaga

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 946
  • Joined: 10 May 2006

Posted 23 February 2021 - 11:47 AM

Menards says 13 ply in the specifications.

Where are you seeing this? I feel like I'm losing my mind.  I'm looking at the page and its just not there.  I wonder if its a firewall issue with my work PC filtering out something it thinks is an ad.....

 

You don't say where you live or what you're going to do with this plywood.

Big box stores are generally not the place where you want to buy good quality plywood.

Do you have a lumber yard near you?  All of the lumber yards that I've known have been able to order the more exotic plywoods from the big plywood dealers.

Plywood strength is directly related to the number of plies.  Plywoods are also rated as to the number of voids in the interior plies and whether they are plugged.

Real baltic birch plywood is a much better product than the other stuff but the other stuff may not result in a catastrophic result for your project.  It depends on what you're building.

You have a pickup truck with a cap.  You could always put a 5 x 5 sheet on top of the cap to get it home.

Are there any woodworking shops near you?  Almost all of them have baltic birch plywood hanging around.

There are more than two solutions to your problem.

 

dan k.

Interesting idea about putting it on the roof. I think one or two sheets of 3/4 may fit under the weight limit.  If I could find a way to tie them down.  

There is a woodworking store 75miles East that has 5x5 sheets.  There is another about 60 miles West.  There is also a Rockler and Woodcraft within an hour or so drive, but they typically don't have full sheets, and their prices for partial sheets add up quickly.  There is one lumber yard nearby that would order it, but their prices is 2x the going rate unless I order a whole pallet.  I think its their way of saying they don't want to say no, but they don't really want to do it.  :) 

I'm building a Dob, and I know I want the engineering properties of the BB stuff.  This will be the third one.  So I know what I want and have some options for where to get it.  The key is the Menards is 15 minutes away and would be very convenient.  I just don't know if its the right/same material or not.  Although Cap'n Mechanical seems to be seeing something I'm not!

-Brian

 



#11 stargazer193857

stargazer193857

    Voyager 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 10,701
  • Joined: 01 Dec 2013
  • Loc: Southern Idaho

Posted 23 February 2021 - 01:43 PM

Menard sells, via special order, baltic birch sheets that are 4x8, instead of the traditional 5x5 sheets. I have a place that is about an hour away that I can get 5x5 sheets from, but getting them home is the issue. My pickup has a permanent cap so the won't go in the back. I looked at my mom's minivan, and it looks like it might JUST barely make it in there with all the seats out.

If the Menards stuff is structurally equivalent, then its easy and way more convenient. Has anyone used it recently? Is it the equivalent to 'real deal'?

Thanks,
Brian


You can get a battery powered jigsaw and cut the pieces close to the size you want at the store, then put those in your truck.

#12 Mike Lockwood

Mike Lockwood

    Vendor, Lockwood Custom Optics

  • *****
  • Vendors
  • Posts: 1,918
  • Joined: 01 Oct 2007
  • Loc: Usually in my optical shop

Posted 23 February 2021 - 02:01 PM

From what I remember, it was decent stuff, but maybe not as dense as the European Baltic Birch, and more likely to have voids.

 

I would be pretty concerned about how scratched / bashed / banged / messed up it would get just during the shipping to the store.  I recall trying to pick out the less screwed up sheets at the store when I bought some long ago.

 

If they could assure you that it would come in without damage, I think it would probably work with the caveats I mentioned above.

 

EDIT:  I just remembered - you need to check the thickness of the outermost layer/veneer.  In the cheaper stuff it is thinner and you can easily sand through it.  Real BB is not that way.


Edited by Mike Lockwood, 23 February 2021 - 02:04 PM.

  • wrvond, Augustus and wrnchhead like this

#13 ppg677

ppg677

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 283
  • Joined: 08 Jun 2020

Posted 23 February 2021 - 02:07 PM

High-quality Baltic Birch also comes in 4x8 sheets.  I just bought one from my local wood supplier this AM, since his 5x5s were buried underneath pallets requiring him to get his fork lift out.  


Edited by ppg677, 23 February 2021 - 02:53 PM.

  • DeanS likes this

#14 Cap'n Mechanical

Cap'n Mechanical

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 208
  • Joined: 12 Apr 2018
  • Loc: St. Louis

Posted 23 February 2021 - 02:19 PM

https://www.menards....44441907409.htm

 

gallery_293883_16046_57576.jpg


  • wrnchhead likes this

#15 ppg677

ppg677

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 283
  • Joined: 08 Jun 2020

Posted 23 February 2021 - 02:39 PM

Pay attention to the grade.  BB/CP--  one side is BB and one side is CP, so no, it is not as good as higher-end Baltic Birch.   The 4x8 sheet I bought this morning is labeled B/BB grade.  And it cost about $90.  

 

PXL_20210223_194829919.MP.jpg


Edited by ppg677, 23 February 2021 - 02:53 PM.


#16 bbasiaga

bbasiaga

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 946
  • Joined: 10 May 2006

Posted 23 February 2021 - 03:15 PM

Thank you.  That table does not appear when I load the website.  I'm sure its the work IT demons at play!  



#17 Steve OK

Steve OK

    Surveyor 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 1,779
  • Joined: 22 Sep 2007
  • Loc: OKC, OK

Posted 23 February 2021 - 03:45 PM

Another difference to watch for besides the ply count is the thickness of the outermost ply.  On the 5x5' sheets it is substantial.  On "big box store" birch plywood I have used, you can sand through the paper-thin outer ply before you know what happened.  At least, I did.blush.gif

 

Steve


  • wrnchhead likes this

#18 John Rose

John Rose

    Explorer 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 99
  • Joined: 02 Jun 2016

Posted 23 February 2021 - 08:40 PM

FinnPly is made in Finland and I understand it is better quality. ApplePly is made in US with  Western Red Alder core with a variety of surface plies. These are mentioned in Kreige and Berry's book "The Dobsonian Telescope".  I do see  "Arctic Birch" which comes in 5x5 sheets.  B/BB grade. $65.95 a sheet at a hardwoods dealer  here in New Hampshire.  Is that "Baltic Birch" really coming from Russia? Or is it just a name? Kind of like "Pyrex".  Used to be kitchenware with that name was a borosilicate glass. Now it is made out of fine annealed glass. 

 

John Rose



#19 ppg677

ppg677

    Mariner 2

  • -----
  • Posts: 283
  • Joined: 08 Jun 2020

Posted 23 February 2021 - 09:44 PM

If you Google the code on the picture I attached above of the "Baltic Birch" plywood I purchased today-- "MFZ FSF BIRCH PLYWOOD", you get this link:

https://mfzavod.com/...nera-marki-fsf/

Is that Russian? Looks like it...


Edited by ppg677, 23 February 2021 - 10:24 PM.


#20 bbasiaga

bbasiaga

    Viking 1

  • *****
  • topic starter
  • Posts: 946
  • Joined: 10 May 2006

Posted 23 February 2021 - 10:42 PM

Another difference to watch for besides the ply count is the thickness of the outermost ply.  On the 5x5' sheets it is substantial.  On "big box store" birch plywood I have used, you can sand through the paper-thin outer ply before you know what happened.  At least, I did.blush.gif

 

Steve

Yes, most plywood you find in stock at the big box places are not hardwood core, and have only thin veneers.  Fine for many things, but not what I want here.  The 13 ply baltic birch special order stuff is much stronger.  Though as someone above pointed out it is a lower face grade than the 5x5 sheets normally offered.  

 

FinnPly is made in Finland and I understand it is better quality. ApplePly is made in US with  Western Red Alder core with a variety of surface plies. These are mentioned in Kreige and Berry's book "The Dobsonian Telescope".  I do see  "Arctic Birch" which comes in 5x5 sheets.  B/BB grade. $65.95 a sheet at a hardwoods dealer  here in New Hampshire.  Is that "Baltic Birch" really coming from Russia? Or is it just a name? Kind of like "Pyrex".  Used to be kitchenware with that name was a borosilicate glass. Now it is made out of fine annealed glass. 

 

John Rose

I looked for apply ply the last time I did a scope, but couldn't find any locally.  I've moved since then, so I could look and see what I can find now.  I don't know if all baltic birch plywood actually comes from the baltics or Russia, but I do know the wood store east of here advertises what they carry as Russian, so at least some of it does. 

-Brian



#21 Adam Long

Adam Long

    Vostok 1

  • -----
  • Posts: 192
  • Joined: 19 Sep 2019
  • Loc: Sheffield, UK

Posted 25 February 2021 - 08:06 AM

Baltic refers to the region surrounding the Baltic sea, which includes Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, parts of Russia, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia (the last three often refreed to as 'the baltic states'. So I'd assume Arctic, Finnish, Russian ply etc will all be pretty similar and class as Baltic.


Edited by Adam Long, 25 February 2021 - 08:27 AM.

  • Starsareus and LarsMalmgren like this

#22 John Fitzgerald

John Fitzgerald

    In Focus

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,260
  • Joined: 04 Jan 2004
  • Loc: ROR Obs. near Pettigrew, Arkansas

Posted 25 February 2021 - 08:54 AM

About a year ago, for around $35, I bought a 5x5  foot sheet of 3/4 Baltic Birch from a local specialty lumber yard.  It is 13 ply with no voids.  I built a new base for a solid

tube 12 inch GSO Dob from it.  I have a few useful scraps left over.


  • wrnchhead likes this

#23 qpHalcy0n

qpHalcy0n

    Vostok 1

  • *****
  • Posts: 101
  • Joined: 28 Feb 2016

Posted 25 February 2021 - 12:07 PM

Most of the stuff that I've seen here in the states is coming from Finland which is in the Baltic region. As mentioned, pay attention to the grade of the wood though. If it's ungraded, then it would be hard to be sure about the quality of the wood. I can get B/BB 5x5 sheets of 15mm for about $32 here whereas a 4x8 of 17mm is about $60, and BB/CP isn't much cheaper. You can use CP if it's on one face. It doesn't affect the stiffness or quality of the ply but one face will have cores and plugs. I'll use BB/CP for parts of the scope that will be sandwiched together like rocker sides and bases. Just use the CP faces for the glue side. There's really no such thing as a "standard" full sheet since a full sheet will come usually as 4x8 or 5x5. Sometimes they'll rip a 4x8 down to even smaller sizes and sell the remaining to hobby stores for smaller projects.

 

Home depot and Lowes will not carry any of this stuff, and honestly, none of their wood is of sufficient quality to be using in any dob. Especially if it's an ultra-light or ultra compact dob, then there is no option, you need to be using the stiffest wood you can find.


Edited by qpHalcy0n, 25 February 2021 - 12:16 PM.


#24 Pinbout

Pinbout

    ISS

  • *****
  • Posts: 25,445
  • Joined: 22 Feb 2010

Posted 25 February 2021 - 03:19 PM

I emailed my plywood vendor from work about difference from the 5x5 and the 4x8 and this was her response

 

 

As far as the Baltic birch, the core is the same. The only difference is, the 4x8 has an exterior glue line. Just makes it better for exterior use.


Edited by Pinbout, 25 February 2021 - 03:20 PM.


#25 John Fitzgerald

John Fitzgerald

    In Focus

  • *****
  • Posts: 9,260
  • Joined: 04 Jan 2004
  • Loc: ROR Obs. near Pettigrew, Arkansas

Posted 25 February 2021 - 03:43 PM

A Dob is not usually out in wet weather (meaning in the rain), so exterior glue is not necessary, especially if the wood has a water resistant finish on it, like polyurethane, or latex paint.  I make certain that the edges of all my plywood items are well sealed, to prevent delamination.


Edited by John Fitzgerald, 25 February 2021 - 06:16 PM.



CNers have asked about a donation box for Cloudy Nights over the years, so here you go. Donation is not required by any means, so please enjoy your stay.


Recent Topics






Cloudy Nights LLC
Cloudy Nights Sponsor: Astronomics