Species of the Week: Yellow Birch

Our Species of the Week this week is Yellow Birch!

American yellow birch is one of a large group of species and is commercially the best of its group grown sustainably with a wide distribution, preferring cool regions with high rainfall.

The wood of yellow birch has a distinct difference between the sap which is white and the heartwood which is light reddish brown. The wood is generally straight grained with a fine uniform texture.

American yellow birch, growing sustainably in the natural forests in the USA, is used for some furniture and joinery, such as doors and interior panelling and kitchen cabinets.

American yellow birch trees are generally not too large in this pioneer species that can be overgrown by climax species, such as maple. Definitely a northern, cold climate tree, yellow birch is medium sized with a medium diameter although larger trees can grow infrequently. Yellow birch should not be confused with paper birch, which is softer in texture and lighter in colour with scattered brown flecks.

Birch from the USA is available in limited volumes as sawn lumber unselected for colour but more limited in sizes and grades if red heartwood or white sapwood is specified. When selected for colour FAS grade will allow 5 inch minimum width. Refer to NHLA Grading Rules for colour sorting specifications. Birch is more likely to be available in thinner sizes 4/4” (25.4mm) & 5/4” (32mm). Veneer may also be available from specialist suppliers.

Birch machines fairly easily and works well with care, including turning and takes stains and polish extremely well. It nails and screws satisfactorily where pre-boring is recommended. It dries rather slowly with little degrade, but has a moderately high shrinkage, so may move in performance.

The wood is non-resistant to heartwood decay but is moderately resistance to preservative treatment and the sapwood is permeable.

Birch is heavy, hard and strong. It has very good wood bending qualities with good crushing strength and shock resistance.

*All information has been pulled from americanhardwood.org.


Strathmore Music Centre

Architect: William Rawn Associates

Strathmore Music Centre

Architect: William Rawn Associates

Strathmore Music Centre

Architect: William Rawn Associates

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