Basswood thrives in four season climates, primarily in the North Eastern Region of the United States. It can be found predominantly around the Great Lake areas, as far west as the Dakotas, and as far south as Missouri. It typically flourishes in moist, loam types soils at elevations below 3000 feet.
Basswood is considered a very soft, lightweight hardwood. Its average weight is about 26 lbs/cu. ft. It has an off-white to a creamy-tan color, with a fine texture and a straight grain pattern. Due to its soft nature, it ranks poor in shock resistance. Also it is considered a fairly weak wood and lacks in durability.
Basswood can be worked easily with machine equipment and hand tools, and has excellent carving qualities. Fasteners do not hold well, so projects requiring fasteners are not recommended. Also, projects that require bending are not recommended, due to its poor steam bending qualities. When sanding, use progressively finer grit sizes to eliminate all of the scratches. Basswood has good finishing properties, and accepts all types of paint. A wash coat prior to staining may be required to prevent uneven absorption. Basswood accepts clear finishes without problems, and wax coats can be polished to a high luster. All types of glue can be used. Because of its lack of strength, basswood is not recommended for heavy structural projects. It is also not considered a very durable wood, so outdoor use is not advised.
Wood Species Index
Some of the common uses for basswood include: pattern-making, moldings, millwork, musical instruments, caskets, shutters, picture frames, venetian blinds, toys and novelties. It is considered one of the best woods for carvings, such as relief work and caricatures which require intricate cuts. Basswood is also ranked high for all types of turnings because it won't chip of splinter.