For most projects we use baltic birch plywood, a material certified by both the FSC (Forest Steward Council) and CARB (California Air Resources Board). This assures that the trees were legally harvested and that the bonding glue has no formaldehyde in it. We never use particle board, which is a much lower grade material that disintegrates over time. Our finishes are water-based, non-toxic, acrylic and have no VOC’s (volatile organic compounds).
Why plywood instead of solid wood?
Solid wood has many limitations. Lumber boards rarely exceed 8" or 10" in width and they expand and contract with seasonal moisture changes. This phenomenon creates warpage, cracks and checks on the wood that are irreversible and hard to predict. In the "old days", older and larger trees were available and inexpensive. Plus there was more time to let the lumber dry. Today, trees are cut at a much younger age plus we have become aware of how damaging it is for the environment to destroy our natural forests. The FSC certification assure that the wood that we use comes from trees that are from managed plantations and renewable sources. Plywood instead is a very efficient way of using the tree. A plywood panel is a "sandwich" of many layers of thin wood, also called veneers. The tree logs are sliced into thin sheets very much like you sharpen a pencil in a rotary motion. All these layers of thin birch wood are glued under pressure creating a plywood sheet, typically 48" by 96". This is very efficient way of using wood since little is wasted in the peeling of the timber. It also allows us to create pieces that are much wider than any single piece of lumber and since the layers are glued to each other alternating the grain direction, warpage and movement due to moisture changes do not happen.
The birch plywood we use is typically ¾” thick and is composed of 13 layers of the same material. We leave the edges exposed since birch is a very strong wood and the lines that show in the edges have a natural appeal.