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DIY Standing Desk: Using Baltic Birch and Reclaimed Wood for Standing Desk Topper

21 April 2021

A New Lower-Cost Alternative to Solid Wood: Baltic Birch

Every desktop user knows that purchasing a wood desk topper is prohibitively expensive. Aside from the intense manufacturing of the wooden desktop, there is a rarity of the wood species when making it. It is labor-intensive and takes too much process to manufacture.

But there is a new alternative to solid wood that costs only 1/3rd the wooden desktop, it looks as beautiful as maple and much more stable and stronger than natural hardwoods. This is the Baltic birch. This product has been used for hundreds of years by European makers. The Baltic Birch has been used for fine cabinetry and musical instruments due to its durability, stability, and easily machinable. It also takes stains very well like any solid hardwood plank. 

Baltic birch plywood has been prized by the world’s finest cabinet makers for its strength and consistency. A lot of high-end musical instruments, like guitars and percussion are made from Baltic birch.

Its core is not like the traditional plywood usually found in lumber yards or big box stores. The layers of inner plies are 1 mm-thick solid birch veneer, cross-banded, and laminated with strong adhesive. Its structure results in a void-free core with a number of unique advantages over other desktop materials. 

Beyond its maple-mimicking beauty, Baltic birch is durable, strong, and stable. Compared to natural hardwoods of the same or even more thicknesses, they will not bend to the elements of the. Furniture makers prefer Baltic birch for its uniformity, suited for precision joinery, and impressive durability.

Baltic birch is also sustainable, growing to maturity more quickly than any hardwood tree species. It consumes less than half the raw wood material to make a desktop looking like maple but is much stronger and more stable, making it a “greener” option. Another advantage it is a much safer material than the ordinary plywood that is available on the market from China and other countries, which are without regulation and using glue with toxic adhesives that is hazardous to health. 

The birch panels are made with a dozen 1.5 mm-thick sheets of veneer that are bonded together in alternating grain direction. It makes for a void-free core that is exceptionally strong and stable, just like a plank of natural hardwood. Though technically a “plywood” this is not the same as the other plywoods found in hardware stores.

For fine furniture, and especially for standing desk topper, only the top grade of Baltic birch should be used (B/BB).  The grading refers to the exposed surfaces (listed as “face/back” quality), it is important to be cognizant of the exact grade being used by the manufacturer, as quality and cost differ widely. Here’s a tip: if the grade isn’t mentioned in their marketing brochures it might be a cheaper grade. 

Here’s a guide to these grading codes:

  •  B/BB: The face and back veneers are both single pieces. Face veneers are free of defects, clear, and of uniform color. Back veneers can have 3-6 color-matched patches.


  • BB/BB: The face and back veneers are both single pieces. Face and back veneers can have 3-6 color-matched patches and some light streaks. There may be tight pin knots.


  •  BB/CP: The face and back veneers are both single pieces. CP back veneer can have unlimited patches and knots, but can’t have open defects.


  • CP/CP: The face and back veneers are both single pieces. Face and back veneers can have unlimited knots, repaired splits, and patches.


  • C/C: Front and back veneers can have patches, open knots, small splits. Voids are allowed in the core. This grade is not sanded and would be used for structural purposes.

When it comes to Baltic birch it’s the next best thing to solid wood when it comes to quality but is less expensive. Another advantage is it won’t warp or be distorted much due to flex and movement from temperature and humidity changes.

Baltic birch also stands out with its lower environmental impact compared to natural hardwoods like maple, cherry, or oak. It grows quickly and takes less than half the raw wood material to match the strength and rigidity of a natural hardwood plank.

Reclaimed wood as a desk topper

Reclaimed wood is another new technology in regards to desk topper.  Like solid wood desktops made from fresh-cut stock. With reclaimed wood, you get what you pay for. With a little more money, you will acquire a more visually appealing and durable product, with nicer finishing touches like species and stains to go with the tone of the decor, smoother surfaces, softened edges, several size choices, and grommet hole options.

Mostly modern desk toppers are often made from laminated pressed pulpwood. But there is a certain charm in having a reclaimed wood computer desktop. Salvaged wood can be recycled by sanding, staining, and shaping it for new life. The aged wood has a certain character that cannot be duplicated in plasticized laminate.

A reclaimed wood desktop can look like nostalgia from an old barn door laid across a desktop frame to a desktop of finely constructed hardwood. They are available online or can be salvage from backyards or flea markets for DIY projects.


To find great places to salvage wood from old homes or abandoned farm buildings that are being torn down, or collecting scrap lumber from construction sites. Construction companies throw away lumber pieces that are trashed after a project is completed to reduce the cost of hauling it back to their work location. If there is no place to source old wood, check the local lumberyard or sawmill and look for scrap wood that is bound for the garbage heap. These can be sanded down to reveal a beautiful wood grain pattern from within.

A reclaimed wood computer desktop can be a conversation piece. The wood of all sorts can be a work of art. Ordinary wood pieces like pine can be varnished to bring out the beauty of the wood grain. Pieces that look like ordinary wood can be created to a boat wood appearance. Another enjoyable experience is finding reclaimed wood pieces at flea markets and specialty shops that can bring out its full potential as a desk topper.


There’s just so too much information when looking for reclaimed wood standing desk products, we recommend browsing around our website, Flexispot.com, to see desk toppers that can enhance the beauty of your home office setup.