Common Name(s): Paper Birch
Scientific Name: Betula papyrifera
Distribution: Northern and central North America
Tree Size: 65-100 ft (20-30 m) tall, 2-3 ft (.6-1.0 m) trunk diameter
Average Dried Weight: 38 lbs/ft3 (610 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .48, .61
Janka Hardness: 910 lbf (4,050 N)
Modulus of Rupture: 12,300 lbf/in2 (84.8 MPa)
Elastic Modulus: 1,590,000 lbf/in2 (10.97 GPa)
Crushing Strength: 5,690 lbf/in2 (39.2 MPa)
Shrinkage: Radial: 6.3%, Tangential: 8.6%, Volumetric: 16.2%, T/R Ratio: 1.4
Color/Appearance: Heartwood tends to be a light reddish brown, with nearly white sapwood. Occasionally figured pieces are available with a wide, shallow curl similar to the curl found in Cherry. There is virtually no color distinction between annual growth rings, giving Birch a somewhat dull, uniform appearance.
Grain/Texture: Grain is generally straight or slightly wavy, with a fine, even texture. Low natural luster.
Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; primarily radial multiples; medium pores in no specific arrangement, moderately numerous to numerous; parenchyma marginal, and sometimes diffuse-in-aggregates (faintly visible with lens); narrow rays, spacing fairly close to close.
Rot Resistance: Birch is perishable, and will readily rot and decay if exposed to the elements. The wood is also susceptible to insect attack.
Workability: Generally easy to work with hand and machine tools, though boards with wild grain can cause grain tearout during machining operations. Turns, glues, and finishes well.
Odor: No characteristic odor.
Allergies/Toxicity: Birch in the Betula genus has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include skin and respiratory irritation. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.
Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
Common Uses: Plywood, boxes, crates, turned objects, interior trim, and other small specialty wood items.
Comments: Birch is one of the most widely used woods for veneer and plywood worldwide. Besides regular sheets of plywood, Birch veneer is also used for doors, furniture, and paneling.
- Alaska Paper Birch (Betula neoalaskana)
- Alder-leaf Birch (Betula alnoides)
- Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)
- Gray Birch (Betula populifolia)
- River Birch (Betula nigra)
- Silver Birch (Betula pendula)
- Sweet Birch (Betula lenta)
- Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)