I have been trying to do some research on building drawers for a dresser. Has anyone used baltic birch to dovetail? is there much tear out with that type of a plywood, or is a person better off to use a 1/2 maple like what someone else had suggested?
I may be speaking out of turn here (I'm a relative newbie to all this), but tearout can be minimized if you use the proper tool. For a soft wood, I'd use a Japanese saw like a soduku (?is that really the name of that backsaw?). A thin-kerf backsaw handsaw is what that kind of wood calls for. There was an issue of Wood magazine a few months ago that had a REALLY good article on making dovetails by hand, without power tools.
Have you thought about poplar? I've seen it used a lot for for drawers, and it is widely available in 1/2 stock. Our local HD has it in several widths.
I used poplar on a set of drawers recently. Worked fine for me, however, mine was not dovetailed. It was rabbeted.
I have made several dovetailed drawers in the past 3 weeks. All out of oak. I am able to purchase from a lumber yard with rough sawn wood, so I can plane it lightly and resaw to get a nice 1/2" board. Much cheaper than HD or Lowes.
Many things to remember:
1) When you use a router...use a very sharp bit and cut slowly.
2) If you use a router, try using a face or backer board to minimize tear out.
3) The more expensive the wood, the more it WILL tear out.
I don't even worry about tear out any more. I don't even bother with a backer board. Most of my tear outs are very small and I don't even worry about it. If it is for someone other than myself...I would use it.