wood being stored

Characteristics And Properties Of Basswood

What Is Basswood?

Basswood is known by other common names such as lime or linden.  The scientific name is Tilia Americana.  It is a hardwood that can be found in Eastern North America.

The uses of Basswood can be found in wood carving, modeling, and musical instruments.  Its ease of carving allows for it to be an easy wood for beginners to learn with.

Properties Of Basswood

The tree size can reach as high as 120 ft tall and the trunk diameter can be as large as 4 ft.  The average dried weight is 26 lbs/ft3.  Note that this is near half the weight of oak wood making Basswood a very light option for creating with.

The Janka hardness of Basswood is 410 lbf.  This means the wood strength overall is not very durable when compared to other hardwoods but it is very light.

The crushing strength is 4,730 lbf/in2 with an elastic modulus of 1,460,000 lbf/in2.  The modulus of rupture for Basswood is 8,700 lbf/in2.

The specific gravity is 0.32, 0.42 (Basic, 12% MC).  The Radial shrinkage is 6.6%, Tangential 9.3%, Volumetric 15.8%, with a T/R ratio of 1.4.

Due to its MOR (modulus of rupture) it tends to be stiff and hold its structure when under stress.  Nevertheless, its point of rupture is quite consistent across its spectrum.

When drying Basswood note that it does have a high rate of shrinkage.  Despite this once the wood is dry it becomes very stable and is suitable for many projects.

While this is classified as a hardwood be aware of its low density.

Characteristics Of Basswood

The grain color of Basswood can range from pale white to light brown.  The grain structure is very straight with an even texture.  The grain lines are very fine with the heartwood and sapwood often being imperceptible.

Growth rings will be very subtle allowing for the color to be quite even across the surface.  Generally speaking, there are few knots in the wood or other defects.

Basswood is classified as non-durable therefore it is weak against rot resistance within the heartwood.  No reported allergies come from working with the wood outside of the common issues with wood dust.

The sustainability of Basswood is a thriving species that can be commonly found.  Therefore, it is not listed in the CITES Appendices.  According to the IUCN it is not a species of concern to being in danger.

Structure Of Basswood

Basswood is classified as diffuse porous which gives it the lightweight characteristic it possesses.  Note that when staining while it will accept a color evenly, using two colors side by side can reflect bleeding in the grain.

It can have two or four pores in clusters or radial multiples in its arrangement.  Its vessels while very numerous are medium in size 50 to 100um.  The Ray width is narrow to medium which can range from 1 to 5 seriate.

What Makes Basswood A Good Choice Of Wood?

If you are needing a veneer for instruments or paneling then Basswood will give you a very consistent finish across the surface.  Being lightweight it will not add pounds to any object or wall.

This wood has been often used for model planes that are flown by remote control.  Again, it is the lightweight characteristic that makes this an ideal choice.

In terms of wood carving there are few wood species better to learn with.  Chip carving can be easy to work with leaving well defined cuts and precise patterns.

Wood chisels will cut cleanly and efficiently with little resistance on the push.  Grain tear out is minimal although give care when cutting with saw blades.  Blowout as a blade exits can happen with ease.

Basswood is the ideal wood for painting.  It will receive primer and paint with no bleeding from sap or trouble areas.  Stain will also be accepted evenly across the surface.

The one drawback to Basswood is that the grain lines are not distinct thus the beauty of the grain does not exist.  This is not an exotic wood where natural colors shine through.

Due to this it is a great wood for projects and crafting.  I personally would not use this for wood art.  Despite its ease of carving and workability it lacks in character when creating unique pieces of art.

Pricing And Availability Of Basswood

Generally the price of Basswood is relatively low.  It is used in a wide range of products including plywood sheeting due to how commonly it is found.

If one is purchasing for projects note that precut larger dimensional lumber can be a little more expensive.  One can still purchase larger boards and shape to specific uses more cost efficiently.

The availability of Basswood can be had at virtually any lumber supplier.  Due to its abundance there should be little trouble in locating what you need.

Practical Uses Of The Basswood Species Of Wood

Despite man of its common uses there are some way in which Basswood is better used than others.  When making plywood or materials for structures it can be a great layer to give thickness while reducing weight.

It is not best suited for structural or supporting purposes.  Therefore, it should not be used for things like furniture or benches.

Where Basswood really shines is when creating veneers for things like guitars or other instruments.  It will give a very clean finish across the surface.

Do not expect the serviceability that one can find in maple, walnut, or oak.  Items made from Basswood are best kept indoors and out of the elements.

Water will greatly impact the wood due to the porous nature of the cell structure.  Treat it with care for while it will deflect and remain rigid it also will dent easily.

This is a great wood to take on when you begin to learn woodworking.  Many of the techniques that are required in carving can be experimented with and perfected.

Details stand out with little effort although soon you will wish to move on to more colorful grain structures in other species.