WOOD ID POSTER:
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240 woods on a poster (24"x36")


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BIRCH

Betula spp.

Betula spp. of the family Betulaceae

Some of the more common varieties (out of at least 4 dozen Betula species) with a few of their many common names are:

Betula alleghaniensis --- yellow, black, gray, Canadian
Betula lenta --- red, sweet, yellow
Betula nigra --- river, black
Betula occidentalis --- western, canyon, mountain
Betula papyrifera also seen as Betulapapynfera --- paper, canoe
Betula pendula --- European, silver, white
Betula populifolia --- gray, white, fire
Betula pubescens --- common, European

there are dozens of species of birch with a wide growing range world-wide and having a wide range of uses, especially high quality veneer. I will break out some of this in more detail at some point.

My thanks to Dr. Axel Rohde for alerting me to the fact that "eisbirke" is just German for "ice birch" (I had mistakenly given "eisbirke" its own page on this site but it has now been combined into this one)

NOTE: The terms karilian and mazur appear to refer to exactly the same type of birch, one in which there is a pock-mark figure as seen in the pics further down this page. I've just put the pics in here with whichever term was used where I found them or when they were sold to me. This type of birch is also sometimes called "burl" birch, but that is not correct ... this is not a type of burl.



my samples: --- colors are accurate throughout (minor exceptions noted)


3 pics of the same 12-foot long plank


closeups from the same plank as directly above


both sides and end grain of a piece cut from the larger plank above, and sanded



end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


plank and end grain


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above --- the color in the closeup is too dark/gray and it's upside down; the update is correct in both regards


plank and end grain


end grain closeup of the piece directly above --- color is a little too dark


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


planks at a lumber yard, pics taken to show color variety


more planks from a lumber yard


both sides of a sample plank of blue birch / Betula caerulae (var grandis) --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of blue birch / Betula caerulae (var grandis) --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of mountain birch / Betula cordifolia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of sweet birch / Betula lenta (pics are a tad too yellow)


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- this particular update is poorly done since it still has a lot of noticible scratches from the belt sander that the ROS didn't take off. Still, the fine detail is clear despite the scratches.


both sides of a sample plank of sweet birch / Betula lenta --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


plank and end grain, marked "sweet birch" --- the squiggly marks are boring insect tracks.


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of sweet birch / Betula lenta --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above



both sides and both ends of a sample piece of spalted sweet birch


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- what with the spalt and the white rot, this piece didn't take a glass-like polish so the "update" was not as dramatic in showing improvment in fine grain detail as it usually is.


both sides of a sample plank sold to me as river birch / Betula nigra


end grain and end grain closeup of the sample plank directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of river birch / Betula nigra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE and quartersawn side grain closeup from directly above. Even in the 2nd enlargment of the end grain update I can just BARELY make out the very thin rays, but the perfectly quartersawn side grain does show the accompanying small ray flakes quite nicely and would show them even better if I had cleaned up the surface a bit.


both sides of a sample plank of river birch / Betula nigra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


a set of river birch short planks and one closeup




river birch plank and closeup


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of European white birch / Betula pendula


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gray birch / Betula populifolia


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above --- closeup is a hair too reddish


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- color is accurate


both sides of a sample plank of gray birch / Betula populifolia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of grey birch / Betula populifolia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of paper birch / Betula papyrifera --- color is not quite yellow/orange enough


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above --- the end grain pic color is not quite yellow/orange enough and the closeup is a hair too reddish


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- color is accurate


both sides of a sample plank of paper birch / Betula papyrifera --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


a red birch plank, two closeups, and the end grain


curly red birch plank very nicely showing heartwood and sapwood


yellow birch sample plank and end grain --- the color shown here is too yellow --- the wood is actually light tan with a hint of yellow


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above --- color on the update is accurate


yellow birch plank and end grain --- plank generously contributed by Chris Arvidson, whom I thank for this and other contributions. The plank is rough sanded and still has a lot of scratch marks but the grain is quite clear.


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above (I see I got it upside down)


same plank as directly above, but moistened with water



both sides of a sample plank listed as yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The vendor lists this as "bird's eye" figure, but I'm dubious as to the validity of applying that specification to this piece.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The vendor of this sample has an EXTREMEMLY odd way of deciding what woods have certain figures. This one, for example, has a couple of little discolored areas of gum pockets so he decided that it is "bird's eye" birch


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above. The closeup shot has more pink than is really in the wood.


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


yellow birch crotch


sample plank and end grain sold to me as Western birch / Betula occidentalis


end grain closeup of the piece directly above --- color is slightly too bland, should have a bit of yellow/orange in it


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- color is accurate



both sides and the end grain of a pair of Western birch pieces that were cut from the same slab. For both these and the end grain closeups below, HUGE enlargements are present. This piece was soaking wet (unseasoned) when I got it and I noticed that when I cut the waxed ends off and then sliced the piece, all the surfaces were uniform in color. Then minutes later, I noticed that small water spots had appeared on the end grain and even a few on the flat cut surfaces. When I sanded the flat side with the heartwood, it changed from a rich, wet brown to a more dusty, dry brown. You can see in the end grain closeup with the heartwood that the area near the edge is fairly dry and much lighter color than the rest of the heartwood.

In the upper left pic, the color is deliberately a bit redder than the wood really is (the upper right pic is correct) in order to give a better representation of the heartwood.


various end grain closeups from the two pieces directly above. You can clearly see the water spots descibed in the paragraph above, and how the heartwood is drier and lighter-colored near the edge than towards the center.


sample plank and end grain sold to me as white birch / Betula populifolia --- the fairly poor quality of the sample plank was common among the sample planks that I got from the IWCS. The dark line in the lower left corner of the end grain shot is spalting. The colors in this set of pics is a bit too yellow


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above --- color is accurate and I note that the image is upside down relative to the original. The softness of this piece kept the update process from producing its normal glass-like finish so the fine grain details were not enhanced by the process as much as they usually are, although they are quite clear in some localized areas.


both sides of a sample plank of whitebarked Himalian birch / Betula utilis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of whitebarked Himalian birch / Betula utilis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Japanese white birch / Betula platyphylla (variety japonica) --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of tian-shan birch / Betula tianshanica --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. This is a birch that is native to China


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of monarch birch / Betula maximowicziana --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of water birch / Betula occidentalis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. Although not stated by the vendor of this sample (who is normally quite reliable about such things) this piece is rife with white rot and would normally be called spalted.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


some small pieces of birch crotch


a pair of pen blanks and an end grain closeup of the pair


about 2/3rds of the surface of a panel sized sheet of birch veneer plywood photographed at a lumber yard --- the lack of seams clearly indicates rotary cut, as does the grain pattern, which would make sense for veneer used on plywood


both sides of a half-sheet of birch plywood --- LARGE enlargements are present. Both sides are clearly roatary cut. I bought this sheet because of the nice swirl and the fact that one side is almost all heartwood.


two closeups from the second side directly above --- LARGE enlargements are present


both sides of a 2'x2' sheet of plywood. HUGE enlargements are present. These were photographed in natural light, unlike my normal practice of using incandescent lighting.


plywood sheet with obvious rotary cut outer veneer; I shot this at a lumber yard because it was particularly interesting, not because it was representative. The slightly orangish color is correct


a freshly cut plank of birch from Europe, submitted by Gert Breugelmans, whom I thank for the contribution. He says it is "brown birch".


birch veneer --- this is what I think of as the "classic" birch grain


a couple of sheets of figured birch veneer


veneer from different flitches --- the slight color variations are accurately captured


veneer with more color than you usually find in birch


flat cut red birch veneer --- significantly different colors are both accurate


red birch veneer --- very smooth stuff, this batch


quartersawn red birch veneer with a slight curl and tiny ray flakes. To show the ray flakes better, I've taken a couple of angled shots shown directly below.


angled closeups of the sheet above, to show the ray flakes better --- the 2nd pic shows them best.


quartersawn red birch veneer --- this is from the same flitch as the sheet directly above, but this one has no ray flakes.


quartersawn red birch veneer --- yet another flitch and again with no ray flakes


red birch veneer with half moistened by mineral oil





flat cut red birch veneer, all from the same lot --- the first pic is taken from farther away from the wood and has the most accurate color of these 4 shots, but I can't quite get the color of the rest to match up with it. The others are just slightly too red.


flat cut red birch veneer sheet and closeup --- the somewhat washed out color of this sheet is accurate.





the first sheet was sold to me as quilted red birch veneer and the other two were sold to me as curly yellow birch veneer --- in any case, it's a mild curl/quilt. The two-sheet pic should have just a bit more red in the pic.


birch veneer sheets at LOWES --- there's a little too much red in the pics


spalted white birch veneer --- spalted veneer is almost never offered commercially. I got this in a mixed cutoff lot from a jewlery box maker who makes his own veneer (about 1/16th inch thick) from odd pieces such as spalted woods. I have seen similar spalted birch lumber offered on occasion.


yellow birch burl veneer


karelian burl veneer --- an unusual form of burl (common to birch, but not to other species) that gives the appearance of spalted "eyes" instead of the grainy swirls that are more common in other burls.


masur birch veneer --- masur and karelian seem to be two different names for the same type of birch "burl"


birch masur burl veneer pic contributed by Danny Tjan, whom I thank for these and other contributions to the site.


NOT a raw wood color
A finished piece that was in the middle of a small table top (with contrasting wood around it). This was labeled was "mazur / kareilian birch" and although as I have noted it is not a raw wood color the piece was a particularly clean whiteish cream and I don't think the finish changed the color much if at all. I believe this was a solid piece, not veneer, but I'm not positive so I put it here with the veneer.



The Wood Book pics


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
paper birch (Betula papyracea, also listed as canoe birch and white birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
red birch (Betula nigra, also listed as river birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
sweet birch (Betula lenta, also listed as cherry birch and black birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
Western birch (Betula occidentalis, also listed as Puget Sound birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
white birch (Betula populifolia, also listed as poplar-leaved birch and old-field birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
yellow birch (Betula lutea, also listed as gray birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views



web pics:


flat cut, quartersawn, and end grain


planks with wet and dry sections; both are flat cut and the first one was listed as Betula spp.


log section


flat cut planks


quartersawn planks


rift cut plank


plywood sheets or parts of sheets


curly plank


quilted plank (what some people call curly in birch, others call quilted ... to me it looks curly, not quilted)


European birch curly planks listed as eisbirke, which is German for "ice birch" which is a name given in Europe to curly figured birch


European birch figured planks listed as eisbirke, which is German for "ice birch" which is a name given in Europe to curly figured birch


figured birch listed eisbirke, which is German for "ice birch" which is a name given in Europe to curly figured birch


turning stock


flat cut veneer


figured veneer


veneer --- the pics that are very pale pink are incorrect color, I'm sure


quartersawn figured veneer


veneer sheet closeups with both levels of enlargement


rotary cut veneer


burl veneer


red birch planks


flat cut red birch veneer


red birch veneer


red birch figured veneer


red birch flat cut quilted veneer


river birch plaque


river birch split log


white birch planks


white birch veneer


yellow birch planks


curly yellow birch plank


sweet birch plank


paper birch planks


curly yellow birch plank and yellow birch veneer


advertised as "ice" veneer --- looks to me the same as "curly yellow" directly above


"blistered" birch veneer


European birch


"European" birch veneer


"masur" birch


log end grain of masur birch


masur birch bookmatched pair and scales


masur birch pair and closeup


masur birch pair and closeup


masur birch veneer


European masur burl veneer


European burl veneer


burl veneer speficed as European birch burl veneer / Betula pendula, and all from the same vendor


same as the lot directly above and clearly rotary cut


spalted birch on the left (top and bottom) and the right (top and bottom). I don't remember what the middle two pieces were but they are not birch


spalted planks


marbled Alaskan birch


listed as "golden" birch veneer, and with a green tint that I am confident is NOT the correct color --- I've purchased this veneer from this vendor and the wood is a light golden tan color, as in my own sample above that I mention as a "classic" birch grain pattern


quilted veneer


veneer listed as ice birch, which is a European name for quilted birch


curly veneer


listed as "flame" birch; "flame" is just another name for what, in most other woods, would be called either curly or quilted


"yellow curly" aka "flame" birch


karilian burl plank that is spalted, although it was not so listed


mazur birch scales


karelian birch burl veneer


just listed as karelian birch


just listed as birch burl veneer and seems to be just a very weak form of masur burl


spalted birch pen blanks


figured white birch


birch door


a white birch bowl blank.


turning blanks and bowls made from similar blanks


yellow birch bowls


river birch bowls turned and photographed by Tom Pleatman, whom I thank for these pics and other contributions to the site. Big enlargements are present.


sweet birch bowls turned and photographed by Tom Pleatman, whom I thank for these pics and other contributions to the site. Big enlargements are present.


platter and vase just listed as birch


a bowl made from curly Swedish birch, which to me definitely appears to be a karelian burl


spalted birch rolling pin


6" masur birch vase by Steve Earis. Thanks to Steve's excellent photography, very large enlargements are present.


spalted birch bowls


bowls listed as masur birch


masur birch hollow form


masur birch vases


footed masur birch bowl


turned plate listed as spalted birch


one end of a flame (i.e. curly) birch table


a desk extension made of birch plywood (most likely Baltic birch plywood). A note on the color correction: the wood color is perfect but to get it that way, I had to do color correction that ended up making the mouse a much brighter blue than it really is. The wood has a polyurethane finish which makes the color considerably more yellow than the natural wood which is a whitish tan.