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Basswood Tilia americana

CARVER'S HARDWOOD WITH FEW DISTINGUISHING FEATURES
It is fortunate for basswood that it is so well suited to woodcarving and patternmaking, as there is not much else to say for it. Its critical quality is that there is no contrast between the earlywood and latewood, which means a carving chisel can cut against the lie of the grain as well as with the grain. This is unusual in wood, as normally the latewood would tear as you attempt to work against its natural bias. Otherwise basswood, like European linden (Tilia x europaea), is almost featureless, and finishes to a yellow color.

KEY CHARACTERISTICS
Type Temperate hardwood
Other names T. glabra, whitewood, American linden Similar species T. nigra, T. latifolia
Alternatives Jelutong (Dyera costulata)
Sources Eastern North America
Color Creamy white to light tan, with a pink hue; yellows when a finish is applied.
Texture Fine and even
Grain Straight; hardly any noticeable difference between latewood and earlywood
Hardness Soft
Weight Light (26 lb./cu. ft.) (420 kg/cu. m)
Strength Weak and does not bend well
Seasoning and stability Good; stable once dry
Wastage Medium. May have large knots or defects and some pale mottled staining, but this only rarely affects the kinds of uses for which basswood is famed.
Range of board widths Good
Range of board thicknesses Good. Most woodcarvers are looking for thick basswood.
Durability Poor, and prone to insect attack, especially the sapwood.

VARIATIONS
Some medullary rays show a mottled effect on quartersawn sides, but this is neither conspicuous nor extensive.

SUSTAINABILITY
Basswood trees grow extensively across eastern North America, so there is no particular need to use certified supplies.

AVAILABILITY AND COST

Available mainly from specialist suppliers, but not expensive.




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Updated: 08/2017   copyright 2011 Rowecraft