Russian Birch Plywood for interior? - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 14 Old 06-13-2006 Thread Starter
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Russian Birch Plywood for interior?

Thank you guys for all your help and suggestions in the past.
We have a 52' steel hull sail boat that we are completely redoing one project at a time. At the moment we are rebuilding the interior, the inside is completely empty and we have been researching some of the woods that are available and affordable which we will be using.
We thought to use 1/4 plywood for the ceiling, 1/2 for the sides and 3/4 for the bulkheads.
After checking on prices between the marine okoume and the russian birch, the birch is 50% cheaper and also has more plys, but not much information out there for it. The okoume on the other hand is more popular but we are not sure of the quality. Any sugestions Please
Thank you, Luso
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post #2 of 14 Old 06-14-2006
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Birch is not a very good wood for this purpose IMHO. You can read about the characteristics of the wood here. Not very encouraging for use in a marine environment. Marine Okume plywood is designed to be extremely resistant to both rot and delamination, birch plywood is not. While the birch would be far cheaper, in the long run it would probably have to be replaced that much sooner, and cost you more in the long run due to maintenance issues.

Also of interest might be this page on Marine Plywood: http://www.oneoceankayaks.com/stitch...m/plytype1.htm
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Last edited by sailingdog; 06-14-2006 at 01:51 AM.
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post #3 of 14 Old 06-14-2006
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The "marine" designation on plywood is very important as it indicates it's designed to be used in the more humid environments... Does the (cheap) Birch have that designation?
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post #4 of 14 Old 06-14-2006
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Plywood business is flat.

I will look up when I get to work in the morning. A quick google did not give me what I want.

I work for a major plywood distributor; though for 5 years I have been at a wood milling division of that company.

I believe that Marine Plywood has the same glue line as Exterior Grade plywood. The glue line is water 'proof.' Marine grade also has tighter specs for how thick the veneers in the core can be [keeping them thin] and there is a spec for 'no voids' if I remember. I read an article by Reuel Parker a while ago and he was advocating the use of exterior rather than marine for cost savings. I do not know if he has changed his tune since then. The article was 10 years ago probably.

I have the National Plywood Standard in a file in my office I'll try to post info tomorrow.

ON POINT, however, most of the baltic birch plywood that I dealt with was NOT exterior glue. It was generally aimed at the cabinet and casing business. Do check the glue line carefully.

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post #5 of 14 Old 06-15-2006
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IIRC also that the main difference between "marine" and "exterior" was the marine is spec'd for all voids to be filled. And then I think there is also an "aviation" grade...with more thinner plys. As a hull liner I don't think the plys or voids would matter, it sounds like this is for a non-structural application. But a water-resistant glue could stop a lot of damage from the inevitable leaks.

Luso, if you are lining the overhead (IIRC ceilings are only on land) and hull sides, that may create a problem by allowing trapped moisture and hiding any corrosion, and steel boats usually suffer corrosion on the INside that way.
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post #6 of 14 Old 06-15-2006
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Also, unless the deck and hull on this particular boat is in immaculate shape, any bulkheads, overhead or cabin soles are going to be exposed to some water. Marine plywood is far more likely to resist warping and delaminating than regular or exterior plywood.

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post #7 of 14 Old 06-15-2006
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Post Plywood Spec

Exterior Plywood - This plywood which will retain its glue bond when repeatedly wetted and dried or otherwise subjected to the weather or to exposure of similar severity. It is therefore designed for permanent exterior exposure.

Marine Plywood - Marine grades shall meet the requirements of Exterior plywoood and shall be one of the following grades: A-A, A-B, B-B, High density overlay, or Medium Density Overlay. Marine can only be Douglas Fir-1 and Western Larch veneers. Grade A faces shall be limited to a total of 9 repairs on a 48 x 96 sheet. All inner plies shall be B-Grade or better. There is also a limit on crossband gaps and edge splits.

. . . from PS 1-95 Construction and Industrial Plywood, American Plywood Association. Mine is effective 9/7/1995 so your mileage may vary.

Wow, exciting. Although I've always enjoyed being "repeatedly wetted and dried."

There are some interior grades with better than interior glue, but i think that you definitely want at least exterior, if not marine.


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post #8 of 14 Old 06-15-2006
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Minor point, hellosailor: while you were quite correct to call the overhead the overhead, on a boat the hull side linings are, in fact, called ceilings - go figure!
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post #9 of 14 Old 06-17-2006
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I am restoring an old boat, 31 yeats old in fact and the ply they used was only cabinet grade... 31 years later it is intact.

Something important to consider, the finish. If the ends and sides of the sheet is sealed and a good quality finish is applied then any plywood should perform well. exterior ply is a ripoff, I will say it again, a ripoff. In my construction business I couldnt tell you how much exterior ply I have removed due to delamination and water damage.

The boat I am restoring now, I am using cherry ply with the back epoxied, as well as the ends and a conversion varnish finish on the face, 6 coats. Will it last, you bet.

Also, keep your ply 1/8th of an inch up from the pan. This will allow air to dry any water that may be under that edge.

I have used baltic birch for years mainly for locker covers and tables and never have I had a problem with it.

I have never bought into this okume arguement because it is overkill for many applications.

But then again I am a classic plastic fan and I'll take a balsa cored hull over what is produced today, anyday.

I am working an a 1975 Coronado... yes Coronado 35 foot center cockpit and I have had my nose over every inch of that boat and the hull is 100%... 31 years later and massively neglected. It was built with a BALSA core.

My point is this, fiberglass and finishes are what protect the wood. Do it right and it will last a long long time. Dont waste your money on the expensive ply's.
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post #10 of 14 Old 06-18-2006 Thread Starter
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Thank you all so much for your input and time .
It really help to get others opiniun.
Luso
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