This section is from the book "Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry, And Building", by James C. et al. Also available from Amazon: Cyclopedia Of Architecture, Carpentry And Building.
Birch is a very handsome wood of a brown or red color and with a satiny luster. There are two kinds, the red birch and the white birch, but they are both taken from the same kind of tree, the difference being that the red birch consists of more and older heartwood, while the white birch is the sapwood or the younger heartwood. The trees are of medium size and form large forests. They are found throughout the eastern part of the United States and Canada, and in the extreme north. The distinguishing feature of the tree is the bark, which is famous because of its beauty and its usefulness for a number of purposes. This bark is white in color with long dashes of a darker color running around the tree trunk in a horizontal direction. It is water-tight and pliable, which made it useful to the Indians for the covering of their canoes. It was also used in ancient times, before the manufacture of paper, as a material to write upon. The bark has been used for a number of other purposes. The wood is used quite extensively for inside finish and floors, and to imitate cherry and mahogany, as it has a grain which is very similar to the grain of these woods. It takes a good polish, works easily, and does not warp after it is in place, but it is not durable when exposed to the weather.