What I want to talk about with this project is Baltic Birch Plywood. I had an email from a reader asking what Baltic Birch Plywood was and if it can be used for decorative projects or if it's just for utility pieces.
Baltic Birch plywood is made from the wood of the Birch tree. It is imported from the Baltic region of which Russia and Finland seem to be the primary exporters. BB ply has more plies per given thickness than plywood produced in the US. Every ply is Birch unlike our ply that has filler woods. It has less voids and is very stable.
There are different grades of BB ply. Most Baltic Birch ply that is sold for scroll saw work is B/BB. This grade will have one good side but may have small patches on the back. The patches are generally very well fitted and blend in pretty well.
Baltic Birch ply is made using the metric system. It comes in 3mm, 6mm, 9mm, 12mm, 15mm and 18mm thicknesses. These correspond to 1/8, 1/4, 3/8, 1/2, 5/8 and 3/4 inch thicknesses. They will often be sold here in the states under the English measurement system. Just remember that 6mm is shy of 1/4 inch but it's close enough for most scroll saw applications.
BB ply comes from overseas in 5 foot X 5 foot sheets. Most online scroll saw shops have it in smaller sizes. 12" X 12" is pretty common but you can often get it in 12" X 24" sheets.
Now to answer the question from my reader. Can BB ply be used for decorative objects or just utility projects like shop jigs? The plies on BB ply are so well done that many people like the look of the edges. This would be a no-no with out American ply. We tend to cover the edges and consider leaving it exposed a sign of crude construction. I have used BB ply for portrait style patterns, Christmas ornaments, Desk name plates, baskets and more. I generally get positive comments about how unique they look. I think Christmas ornaments look quite nice in BB ply.
While BB ply is not my first pick for most scroll saw projects is has it's place. If you have never tried cutting BB ply you should buy a few sheets and give it a go. It cuts easy and it's not terribly expensive.
DVD and the 2013 update DVD at this link. DVD #1 is $20 and contains over 1,100 patterns. The 2013 update DVD is $7.50 and has another 178 patterns.