Smoky Mountain Woodcarvers 


7321 LAMAR ALEXANDER PKWY     TOWNSEND, TN  37882               800-541-5994    865-448-6350    

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I get a lot of requests for information on wood.  Carvers want to know about what kind of
to buy to carve, why does it make a good caving wood and how to select it.  I will attempt
to answer those questions and more in this section.  I will start off with some "good to know" 
information followed by a discussion of different kinds of wood. I am starting with 
basswood and will add other woods as time permits.  So, check back from time to time 
and see what I have added.
If you have comments or suggestions please email. I try to answer all emails.
Dried wood falls into 2 categories: air dried and kiln dried. Quality, air dried wood has a moisture content between 12% and 20%, on average. This is wood which has been dried by exposure to air out of doors, or in an unheated shed for some length of time. Kiln dried wood has been dried with artifical heat in a strictly controlled chamber. Finish grades of kiln dried wood have a moisture content of 6% to 12%. Kiln dried wood tends to be softer than air because the kiln process stops the hardening process. Air dried wood gets harder and harder the longer it is dried in the air. This is why furniture makers prefer air dried wood has been drying for many years. Carvers prefer kiln dried wood but thick wood dried in a kiln has some built-in problems. Defects such as honeycombing, splitting and checking can occur. It is better to use glued up wood for larger projects. By using glued up wood, which is at least 2 layers laminated together with an adhesive so that all the grains are running essetially parallel, can greatly reduce the occurrence of such defects. An addition benefit of laminated wood is improved strength and stablitly. BASSWOOD
(Tilia Americana)Family Tiliaceae

Common names: linden, beetree, whitewood, lime. It grows throughout the eastern North America. Northern basswood tends to be more white and softer than southern basswood.

Most carvings (at least in the United States) are done in basswood. Basswood is used because it is relatively soft, has a straight grain, holds cuts well and is mostly knot free. It work easily with tools, making it a premier carving wood. It is poor is holding nails and in bending, but moderate in gluing and good for holding paint. It does not burn particularly well.

The trees have straight trunks, with most of the bole limb-free, and narrow, short crowns. The bark is initially dark green and shiny, developing to a grayish color with deep furrows. the sapwood is white to cream, while the heartwood is pale to reddish brown or tan with some darker streaks. When dry, the wood has a pleasant smell and is soft and light, with a fine, even texture.

I only met one carver that was allergic to basswood. It is so non-allergenic that the shavings and sawdust are used in horse stalls. Having said that, I recommend that you take the same precautions with basswood as other woods. Always wear a mask when grinding it.

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Material Copyright 2004