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The objective of this study was to examine the timber quality of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth) and European white birch (Betula pubescens Ehrh.) trees in the first and second thinnings in southern parts of Finland, from the viewpoint of sawing of small-diameter, short logs, in particular. The average stem volume of birch was 0.140 m3 in the first thinning stands and 0.206 m3 in the second thinning stands. In planted stands, the trees were larger in the first thinnings but slightly smaller in the second thinnings, compared with naturally regenerated pure birch stands or mixed stands of Norway spruce and birch species. Almost 60% of the harvested and 35% of the remaining stems that could provide saw logs were graded as pulpwood for timber quality due to the occurrence of stem defects. The most common stem defects were multiple crooks and middle crooks. Only minor between-stratum differences were detected in the numbers of defects. Depending on the bucking option, the total percentage of saw and plywood logs from the total birch recovery in the thinning of the sample stands varied between 11.7 and 18.2. The recovery of saw logs was clearly higher in the second thinnings, 12–19%, than in the first thinnings, 8–14%. Of the stand types, saw log recovery was the highest in planted birch stands, 12–19%, but lower in naturally regenerated pure birch stands and mixed stands of Norway spruce and birch. The highest share of saw logs was in the second thinning of planted stands, 17–25%. This study shows that the harvesting recoveries of end-use based timber assortments can be estimated in different kinds of thinning birch stands. Based on tree and log dimensions and stem squality, silver birch firstly from plantations and secondly from mixed stands should be the most interesting source of raw material for the saw milling, furniture and interior product sectors.