Baltic birch plywood is a popular choice among the laser community due to its consistent thickness and smooth surface. It is made from thin sheets of birch wood that are glued together, with each layer oriented at a 90-degree angle to the one below it. This provides a strong and stable material that is ideal for laser engraving. However, lately, many have been finding it harder and harder to find this type of plywood in stores. In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the shortage of Baltic birch plywood and what it means for those who rely on it for their laser engraving projects.
Updated: COVID backups are not a main issue in the supply chain issues anymore. The war between Russia/Ukraine is now the main bottleneck (read further).
First, believe it or not, COVID shipping backups are still having an effect on the lumber supply in the US. Due to these ongoing shipping delays, many suppliers have been unable to restock their inventory of Baltic Birch plywood, leading to a shortage in stores. This is causing delays and challenges for laser engravers who rely on this type of wood for their projects. Some engravers are resorting to purchasing Baltic Birch plywood from overseas suppliers, but this can be a risky and expensive option. Others are turning to alternative types of wood, but these may not have the same qualities and properties as Baltic Birch plywood, which can affect the final result of a project.
And because of COVID there was an increase in demand for home improvement projects. As more and more people started working from home, they are looking for ways to improve their living/working spaces. This has led to an increased demand for plywood, including Baltic birch plywood, which is often used for cabinetry and furniture projects. This increased demand has put pressure on suppliers to keep up with the demand, resulting in shortages.
The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has also been affecting the supply of Baltic birch. Russia, being one of the largest exporters of Baltic birch, has been facing economic sanctions from several countries, including the European Union and the United States. As a result of these sanctions, Russia's ability to export Baltic birch and other goods has been severely impacted. Additionally, the ongoing war in Ukraine has disrupted the transportation of goods and made it difficult for Russian companies to access the region. This has resulted in a shortage of Baltic birch, as well as other materials, for many businesses and manufacturers, including those in the laser engraving community. Overall, the combination of shipping backups and the geopolitical situation in Eastern Europe has led to a difficult situation for those seeking to purchase Baltic birch plywood.
Everything has also been exacerbated by the ongoing trade tensions between the United States and other countries. Many suppliers of Baltic birch plywood are based in Europe, and the tariffs and trade restrictions imposed by the US government have made it more difficult and expensive for these suppliers to export their products to the US. This has led to a reduction in the amount of Baltic birch plywood available in the US market.
The shortage of Baltic birch plywood is a concern for those of us in the laser engraving community, as it can make it more difficult and expensive to find the material we need for our projects. However, it is important to note that there are other types of plywood that can be used for laser engraving, such as maple and oak plywood. These materials may not be as ideal as Baltic birch plywood, but they can still be used to create high-quality laser engravings.
The short of it is that Baltic birch is harder to find right now as a result of a combination of factors. Increased demand, lack of raw materials, and trade tensions, to name a few. While it can be a challenge to find Baltic birch plywood in stock, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of finding it. One option is to check with local lumberyards (see list of links below), as they may have a limited supply. You can also try searching online retailers, such as Amazon or Home Depot, as they may have a wider selection and may be able to ship it to you, though their quality and price may not be the best. Additionally, you can try contacting manufacturers directly to inquire about lead times and availability. If However, it's important to note that due to the current market conditions, lead times may be longer, and prices may be higher than usual. Ultimately, it's important to plan ahead and be prepared to wait for the materials you need if you're looking to use Baltic birch plywood in your project.
You can always email us at King Gubby as we usually have stock of it for our/client's projects.