Basswood Lumber

Botanical Name: Tilia Americana

Family: Tiliaceae

Other Common Names: American
basswood, American lime, American linden, Basswood, Beetree,
Beetree linden, Carolina linden, Florida basswood, Florida
linden, Limetree, Linden, Linn, White basswood

Uses: Carving, hobbies and crafts, commercial veneer, food handling utensils, and food containers. It’s also used to manufacture beehives and Venetian blinds.

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Distribution: This North American species is reported to be distributed in Manitoba, New Brunswick, Ontario, Quebec, and Saskatchewan in Canada. Its growth range in the United States is reported to include Alabama, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Great Smoky Mountain National Park, Iowa, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Vermont, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. The tree is reported to prefer moist soils of valleys and uplands and is usually found growing in hardwood forests.

General Characteristics: The large tree, usually with a long trunk, is reported to mature to a height of about 60 to 100 feet (18 to 30 m), with a trunk diameter of about 24 to 36 inches (60 to 90 cm). The heartwood ranges in color from creamy-white to pale pinkish-brown. The wood is reported to be similar to European lime (Tilia vulgaris ) in appearance, grain and texture; The sapwood is described as creamy white or pale brown in color and merges somewhat gradually into the heartwood. The sapwood is reported to be sometimes marketed as 'white basswood. Texture is typically fine and uniform; the grain is typically straight, and fine. Freshly-milled wood is reported to have a faint distinct odor, especially when wet. There is no characteristic taste.

Weight: Basic specific gravity (ovendry weight/green volume) 0.40; air-dry density 26 pcf.

Working Properties: Blunting effect on cutting tools is rated as slight. The wood is reported to cut and saw without difficulty. Planing operations are reported to be rather easy, but the wood is soft and requires sharp tools for best results. The material turns fairly easily, and turned surfaces are generally clean. The wood is reported to require care in moulding operations. The material responds readily to very sharp machine tools to yield clean surfaces in boring operations. Mortising operations are reported to be relatively easy, but it requires some care for good results. Basswood is reported to be a popular choice among hobbyist for modeling ships, airplanes, and wood sculpturing. The wood has good gluing properties. Basswood nails easily but nail-holding qualities are rated as only fair since the wood is soft. The wood is reported to have satisfactory screw-holding characteristics. Sanding properties are reported to be fair. Polishing properties are reported to be generally good. Staining is reported to be less than satisfactory because of the soft texture of the wood. The material has very poor steam bending properties. Basswood is reported to respond well to enamel. Varnishing qualities are reported to be generally good.

Durability: The wood is reported to have little natural resistance to attack by fungi and other wood destroying organisms. Logs are susceptible to attack by the longhorn beetle while the sapwood is prone to attack by the common furniture beetle.

Preservation: The wood is reported to be responsive to treatment, but its normal uses usually does not require it to be treated.

Mechanical Properties

Bending Strength:

Green: 5,100 psi
Dry: 8,700 psi

Modules of Elasticity:

Green: 1,170 @ 1,000 psi
Dry: 1,380 @ 1,000 psi

Maximum Crushing Strength:

Green: 2,420 psi
Dry: 4,340 psi

Drying and Shrinkage

The wood is reported to dry easily with little degrade. Brownish chemical stains may occur in the sapwood of trees from certain areas. The defect may also occur if the wood is dried too slowly. Checking and warping are reported to be slight. Kiln Schedule T12-E7 is suggested for 4/4 stock and T10-E6 for 8/4. Lighter Colored Stock, T9-E7 for 4/4 stock and T7-E6 for 8/4 stock is suggested. Shrinkage green to ovendry: radial 7%; tangential 9%. Seasoned wood is reported to be dimensionally stable, and holds its place well in use.

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