Basswood Specs

Scientific Name
Tilia americana
Common Name(s)
Basswood, lime, linden, American basswood
Eastern North America
Average Dried Weight
26 lbs/ft3 (415 kg/m3)
Specific Gravity
Basic: 0.32, 12% MC: 0.42
Janka Hardness
410 lbf (1,820 N)
Modulus of Rupture
8,700 lbf/in2 (60 MPa)
Elastic Modulus
1,460,000 lbf/in2 (10.07 GPa)
Crushing Strength
4,730 lbf/in2 (32.6 MPa)
Radial: 6.6%, Tangential: 9.3%, Volumetric: 15.8%, T/R Ratio: 1.4
Pale white to light brown color, with sapwood and heartwood sections not clearly defined. Growth rings tend to be subtle, and color is mostly uniform throughout the face grain of the wood. Knots and other defects are uncommon.
Grain is straight, with a fine, even texture and moderate natural luster.
Rot Resistance
Basswood is rated as non-durable in regard to heartwood decay.
Easy to work, being very soft and light. Perhaps one of the most suitable wood species for hand carving. Basswood also glues and finishes well, but has poor steam bending and nail holding characteristics.
No characteristic odor.
Besides the standard health risks associated with any type of wood dust, no further health reactions have been associated with basswood.
Widely available as lumber or carving blanks. Prices are in the lower range for a domestic hardwood, though larger carving blocks can be more expensive.
This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices, and is reported by the IUCN as being a species of least concern.
Common Uses
Carvings, lumber, musical instruments (electric guitar bodies), veneer, plywood, and wood pulp/fiber products.
Species in the Tilia genus are usually referred to as either lime or linden in Europe, while in North America the trees are most commonly called basswood. Basswood is an ideal wood for many woodcarvers. Its soft, fine, even texture make it easy to work with, while its pale, inconspicuous color doesn’t detract from the carved patterns of the finished product (which also makes it easier to paint and color). Though basswood has high initial shrinkage, the wood is stable in service after it has been dried. And though the wood is both lightweight and soft, it has an outstanding MOE-to-weight ratio. However, its MOR is on par with its low weight; simply put, when put under stress, the wood will remain stiff, but will still break (rupture) at a relatively average weight.

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