There are many species of birch that grow throughout North America, and they have similar needs and characteristics. Yellow birch grows in the North Eastern Region of the United States and Canada, primarily around the lake states. It is also prevalent in the states around the Appalachian Mountains. Birch likes cool, moist soil, and seems to thrive best in shady areas between 1500-3000 foot elevations.
Birch is strong, stiff, and hard wood that has a high resistance to shock, which makes it hard to dent. It weighs about 44 lbs/cu. ft., which classifies it above average weight for North American hardwoods. The color of the heartwood can vary from a light-yellow or tan to a reddish-brown. It has a straight grain pattern, with very small pores and a clear, fine texture. Birch is not considered one of the durable woods, so it should be used for indoor projects.
Birch is very workable with power equipment, but due to its hard nature, it is difficult to work with hand tools. Metal fasteners hold very well, but for best results, pre-drilling is recommended. It also turns well but is difficult to carve. Birch accepts most glues, but water based glues can pose a problem in areas of high humidity. This is primarily due to the non-porous nature of the wood, which does not allow the glue to sink deep into the grain. No filler is required and the wood can be sanded to smooth texture. Birch accepts all types of stain, clear finishes, and paint without problems. Wood wax can be applied to a high luster.
Wood Species Index
Birch stands up well to household uses. Some of the principle ones include: flooring, veneer, plywood paneling, furniture, interior doors, and cabinets. Due to its excellent turning ability, turned posts and legs of chairs, tables, and desks are in demand. Other turned objects such as tool handles, pool cues, and bowls are popular. Other uses include, workbench tops, millwork, moldings, and additional woodenware items. Birch has high bending strength, and is also used for many furniture items that require bent parts.