TEST – Wood of the Month: Quilted Birch

Birch Forest near Novosibirsk

February’s Wood of the Month from Helena Hardwoods is Quilted Birch.

Dave has some fine boards of highly figured quilted birch available. Guild members can get a 10% discount if they mention they saw this post on the guild website and purchase the wood during the month of February.

Price per board foot: $3.80

Sizes available from Helena Hardwoods: _____________

Autumn Birch by James Jordan.

Autumn Birch ©James Jordan.

The Tree: Betula

Birch is a broadleaved, deciduous, hardwood tree of the genus Betula in the family Betulaceae. The birch family also includes alder, hazel, and hornbeam, and is closely related to the beech/oak family.

Birch are often relatively short-lived trees found primarily in the northern hemisphere in temperate and boreal climates.

The birch tree is sometimes called “The Watchful Tree” because of eye-like impressions on the bark.

Birch are often identified by their light colored easily peeled bark. Birch bark has been used for shoes, paper, canoes and for flavoring or medicinal purposes. Birch bark is resistant to decay, due to the resinous oil it contains. The color of the bark gives the different species their common names: gray, white, black, silver and yellow birch.


The Wood:

Birch is a pale, tight grained wood which is heavy and shock resistant. It takes a stain well and is often used for plywood. Karelian or Masur birch is valued for it’s use in veneer, which displays a unique wood pattern or figure. Because of it’s unique tonal qualities, birch wood is often used in speaker cabinets, acoustic guitars and drums.

Quilted birch has an especially beautiful figure that some say resembles bubbles under glass, or shimmering bulges.


Birch Bark used as fishing net weights in Finland

Interesting Birch Facts:

  • Birch is associated with the feast of Pentecost in Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia, where its branches are used as decoration for churches and homes on this day.
  • Birch seeds are used as leaf litter in miniature terrain models
  • Fragrant twigs of silver birch are used in saunas to relax the muscles.
  • Birch sap is a traditional drink in Northern Europe, Russia, and Northern China. The sap is also bottled and sold commercially. Birch sap can be used to make birch syrup, which is used like maple syrup for pancakes and waffles.
  • Birch wood is sometimes used as a tonewood for semiacoustic and acoustic guitar bodies, and occasionally for solid-body guitar bodies.
  • In Celtic cultures, the birch symbolizes growth, renewal, stability, initiation and adaptability.

Links for quilted birch info:


Remember, if you are a member of the Helena Woodworkers Guild, you can have a 10% discount on Quilted Birch purchased from Helena Hardwoods during the month of February. Head on down to HH and check out Dave’s inventory. He’ll be happy to show you around the stacks. Helena Hardwoods 3290 Centennial Drive 443-6081