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Time to take out a loan

Need to buy some decent Baltic birch plywood? If so, I hope you win the lottery.

Except for quick utility projects, I don’t use a lot of plywood. However, when I do use it for important work that requires it, there’s nothing better than good Baltic birch ply. Lots of solid birch plies, at least one beautiful face ply (that’s thicker than most plywood face veneers), minimal voids, great workability, reliable strength and flatness – it can’t be beat.

But due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year the prices of Baltic birch plywood have skyrocketed… that is, if you can even find the stuff. If you do, expect to pay a lot more. You may recall the drill press cabinet I made last November. Well, I needed some Baltic birch ply for a new project this week and, from the same supplier, it cost nearly double what I paid in the fall.


This double whammy of scarce availability and higher prices shouldn’t be surprising. About fourth of the global supply of good Baltic birch plywood comes from Russia, Ukraine and a handful of other Eastern European nations. With embargos of Russian imports, the virtual disappearance of Ukrainian plywood, and the difficulties faced by suppliers in nearby affected countries, U.S. lumber sellers simply can’t get adequate stock.

Add to all that the unrelated – but ongoing – supply chain issues we’ve been experiencing over the last year or so, and making things out of good Baltic plywood is more difficult than ever. With any luck, you stocked up with plenty of the good stuff before Russia decided to invade Ukraine. If not, here’s hoping that the lumber dealer you regularly get it from did. You’ll undoubtedly pay more, but at least you’ll be able to get some.

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