Common Name(s): Basswood, American Basswood, Lime, Linden

Scientific Name: Tilia americana

Distribution: Eastern North America


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Color/Appearance: 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/Texture: Grain is straight, with a fine, even texture and moderate natural luster.

Endgrain: Diffuse-porous; medium pores predominantly in radial multiples or clusters of 2-4; growth rings indistinct or distinct due to marginal parenchyma; medium to large rays, normal spacing, noded; parenchyma banded (marginal), apotracheal parenchyma diffuse-in-aggregates.

Workability: 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.

Pricing/Availability: Widely available as lumber or carving blanks. Prices are in the lower range for a domestic hardwood, though larger carving blocks are more expensive.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Suitable for most aspects of model building. Often the wood of choice for museum built models, though other species have become just as popular. 

Comments: Species in the Tilia genus are usually referred to as either Lime or Linden in Europe, while  in North America it’s most commonly called Basswood. Many of the historic models in existence today found in museums are made of woods from this family.

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)