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I have some basswood/limewood leftover for my kit days. Believe it or not, some of what I have has a really nice color grain to it. It would make a really nice looking deck; but the wood is too soft. I know it will not pass the thumb nail test. but I was wondering if any one has tried to make the surface harder. Maybe like several coats of varnish??? Or even diluted white glue?? Any one??


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Greetings Frank,


If it is honest to goodness basswood, I have no problems at all using it as deck planking. Basswood has a very tight grain. In fact, at least two kit manufacturers that I am aware of (Model Shipways and Blue Jacket) supply basswood for decking material on many of their kits. I have used it many times and prefer it to some of the stuff supplied with European kits. Limewood is another story - OK for the first layer of a double planked kit but, in my opinion, the grain is not right for decking. I know that some folks think basswood and limewood are interchangeable, but they are not the same the wood.



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I use basswood for decking regularly and it makes a good deck if done carefully.



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Dilute white glue seems to work to harden it.   I used basswood for a mold and set the surface with the glue mixture and then poly'ed it.

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

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CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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I use basswood for all my boats as is but if you want to harden the surface paint it with epoxy resin mixed half and half with alcohol.  The alcohol allows the epoxy to soak into the wood.



Every build is a learning experience.


Current build:  SS_ Mariefred


Completed builds:  US Coast Guard Pequot   Friendship-sloop,  Schooner Lettie-G.-Howard,   Spray,   Grand-Banks-dory

                                                a gaff rigged yawl,  HOGA (YT-146),  Int'l Dragon Class II,   Two Edwardian Launches 


In the Gallery:   Catboat,   International-Dragon-Class,   Spray

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Basswood quality seems to vary quite a bit.  I have some that is almost as soft as balsa and some that is pretty hard (for basswood that is).  The harder pieces have a very dense, close grain while the softer pieces are a bit fuzzy.

My advice and comments are always worth what you paid for them.

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Basswood and  European Lime actually are from the same species of trees (linden). They are both tightly grained and relatively soft compared to other hardwoods, but somehow, European lime seems to be a bit harder than the usual basswood found in the US. Not sure if it's the climate, soil components etc that cause the difference but I generally find European lime to be marginally harder.

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Basswood and  European Lime actually are from the same species of trees (linden).

Actually the genus is tilia  the main species of Tilia are T cordata from Europe, T americana  American Basswood or Linden.

T cordata is a small leafed lime and T americana has big leaves, these are the two main sources of wood. the lime timber is also used in the making of Charcoal for drawing.


references "The Oxford Encyclopedia of TREES OF THE WORLD"  ISBN0517616734 published in1981


One of the interesting things about organic materials like wood is that they are adapted to their environments.The wood from a tree that grows in one locale can be exactly the same species as that of tree and in a different locale and the wood from the second tree could be completely different to work because of the soil conditions and mineral content affect the growth and thus the texture and properties of the wood.



Current builds  Bristol Pilot Cutter 1:8;      Skipjack 19 foot Launch 1:8;       Herreshoff Buzzards Bay 14 1:8

Other projects  Pilot Cutter 1:500 ;   Maria, 1:2  Now just a memory    

Future model Gill Smith Catboat Pauline 1:8

Finished projects  A Bassett Lowke steamship Albertic 1:100  


Anything you can imagine is possible, when you put your mind to it.

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