|Basswood - Tilia Americana - has
been considered one of the world's foremost carving woods for centuries because
it cuts easily across and with the grain and can be shaped to remarkably
Native Indians used the fibrous inner bark
to make rope, mats, and thongs. Some of the Iroquois carved masks in
the sapwood of the living tree, then split it off from the trunk, and
hollowed it out from behind.
Basswood is a soft, lightweight hardwood
that is non toxic and has a mild clean smell when freshly cut. Its heartwood ranges from a creamy
white to a creamy brown. Its sapwood is nearly white. The wood
has a fine and uniform texture. Though it dulls cutting edges
slightly, it is easy to work. Keep your cutting tools sharp.
Because basswood is not durable, it should not be used outdoors.
The tree grows very quickly, and the wood
is readily available. It is related to linden and lime - other
species of tilia - that grow in Europe.