Birch Wood

Birch Wood

A description of the characteristics of birch wood.

¶ In considering the woods that are most desirable for woodwork in rooms where light colors and dainty furnishings are used, birch comes first on the list, as it is nearest in character to the open textured woods we have just described.

Red Birch

¶ Of the several varieties, red birch is best for interior woodwork. It is easily obtained all over the East, the Middle West and the South and costs considerably less than the other woods we have mentioned. When left in its natural state and treated with sulphuric acid, red birch makes really beautiful interior woodwork, as the acid deepens its natural color and gives it a mellowness that is as fine in its way as the mellowness produced in oak or chestnut by fuming.

Staining and Finishing

¶ Some such treatment is absolutely necessary, for if red birch is left in its natural state, its color fades instead of ripening, so that it gets more and more of a washed oat look as time goes on. In using the acid on birch it is necessary to have a stronger solution than is required in the case of cypress; one part of acid to three parts of water should give it about the required strength.

¶ One advantage of birch is its hardness, for after the acid treatment it needs only waxing and rubbing to give it the final finish. The good qualities of birch, treated in this way and used for interior woodwork, are very little known, because it is the wood which has been used more than any other to imitate mahogany. The grain of birch is very similar to that of the more expensive wood, and when it has been given a red water stain and finished with shellac and varnish it bears a close resemblance to mahogany finished in the modern way, which is by no means to be confused with the rare old Spanish mahogany of the eighteenth century.

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