Our Second Line, Baltic Birch Panels
Untraditional in their construction, our Baltic birch panels prove to be an extremely stable option, especially well suited for large panels. They will undergo virtually no expansion or contraction in any direction and will greatly resist cupping.
Baltic Birch Plywood
To achieve these traits, we use high grade, one inch thick Baltic birch plywood. It is primarily manufactured for European cabinetmaking. Unlike traditional plywood, the layers are thick solid birch veneer, cross-banded, and laminated with exterior grade adhesive, making the sheet well balanced. Because the core layers of Baltic birch are actually veneers of high quality birch (rather than a softer, secondary wood) they form an almost void-free core. Conversely, traditional veneer core plywood has voids and is also made up of softer materials.
Woodworkers prize the stability and quality of Baltic birch plywood with a thickness of three-quarter inches being the most common choice for thick panel applications. We go a step further and use one inch thick stock, which promises a flatter product.
Same True Gesso Finish
Our Baltic birch gessoed panels receive the same finish as our main line of icon boards. To begin the process of applying gesso, we coat rabbit hide glue on all sides of the board. Next, we apply a pure linen cloth by soaking it in the glue and smoothing it over the surface of the board. Then we apply another coat of glue over the cloth. Once the cloth is dried crisp over the board, we trim the edges off. Once again, we apply another coat of glue, this time with a small amount of chalk added to the mixture. Finally, we begin the application of many coats of true gesso: a mixture of rabbit skin glue, chalk, and powdered marble, suitable for egg tempera, oil, acrylic, encaustic, and more. After tremendous care and attention to detail, through a special technique of eliminating pin holes that are common in all true gesso finishes, as well as much fine sanding, the surface is proven to be like glass to the feel. You simply will not find a finer gesso finish than on the boards and panels made at St. John’s Workshop.