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New England Blanket Chest

The New England Blanket Chest (Highboy) Shown in Birch

about birch

In Brief

If you seek a more rustic feel similar to that of antique pine, but would prefer a much harder material that can stand up to the rigors of everyday use then birch is your wood. If you’re looking for consistency in tone and color, then birch probably isn't the right choice.

Appearance

While birch reads as a blonde wood on the whole, its color can vary from light blonde to reddish-brown even within the same board. Note the contrast in the front panel of the chest above.

Over time birch will oxidize toward a golden color but the change will be slight and occur so slowly that you might not even notice. Exposure to sunlight will accelerate the speed and intensify the of degree of oxidation.

Special Features

Birch runs high in a naturally occurring grain feature know to woodworkers as curl. Curl results from an abrupt twist or… well… curl in the expected pattern of the wood’s grain and is usually considered a bonus of sorts. Often curl creates an iridescent ripple effect in the wood.

Staining

Birch can be stained, but exact result are unpredictable. Any area containing curl (see above) will absorb more stain than the surrounding areas creating a high level of contrast. For this reason we do not recommend staining birch for the purpose of evening out its color. Most likely the opposite will occur.

On the other hand, if you wish to approximate the color of one of the darker (more expensive) woods and are willing to let the stain intensify the natural variation in the birch then there’s no reason not to stain.