Species of the Week: Basswood

Our Species of the Week this Week is Basswood!

American basswood is a light weight species renowned for its creamy colour and ability to be machined and shaped accurately into thin sections, and as a premium wood for carving.

The sap of basswood tends to be large and is creamy white in colour giving way to the heartwood that is pale to reddish brown. It may display dark streaks which are not a defect. The difference between sap and heartwood is small and may be indistinct. The wood of basswood has a fine uniform texture and straight grain, which is not distinct.

This unique hardwood, growing in natural forests in the USA, is considered the best species for venetian blinds and internal shutters. It is widely used for carving, turning, mouldings and furniture. Specialist uses include pattern making and musical instruments, especially for piano parts.

Basswood machines easily and works well with hand tools, making it a preferred species for carving. It holds screws better than nails, and glues reasonably well and can be sanded, stained and polished to a good smooth finish. It dries fast with low degrade and has good dimensional stability when dry.

The wood is non-resistant to heartwood decay but is permeable, which makes it possible to accept preservative treatment.

Basswood is light and soft but said to be ‘tough’, with low density and strength. It has poor steam bending classification.

American basswood is botanically related to the lime tree found in Europe. The trees are generally large in height and diameter, often with straight trunks and relatively free of limbs. Basswood can be found growing throughout the USA in natural hardwood forests.

Basswood from the USA is available in relatively limited volumes compared to some other species, both as sawn lumber and veneer. Lumber is available in a range of grades and thickness from 4/4” (25.4mm) right through to 16/4” (102mm) due to its ease of drying. Basswood lumber is also available in 9/4” (56mm) a specially produced thickness for production of window shutters and venetian blinds. Also referred to as Linden.

**Info pulled from americanhardwood.org.

Images:

2″ Select Classic Basswood Wood Blinds (Inside Mount) from selectblinds.com.

2″ Select Classic Basswood Wood Blinds (2″ slat) from selectblinds.com.

2″ Select Classic Basswood Wood Blinds (Standard Crown Valance) from selectblinds.com.

 

 


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