Last edited 05 Nov 2020

Lime wood



Also known as tilia, linden, and basswood, lime trees are found throughout Europe, North America, and Asia. The flowers are commonly used to make tea, while the wood is used for carving. These trees are deciduous, reaching around 20 m to 40 m in height (65 ft to 130 ft).


Lime trees have a wide range of species, of which there are small-leaved trees, large-leaved trees, and a hybrid of both known as common lime. All types of lime trees are very similar and their wood is difficult to distinguish; a white-yellow, with an occasional red or green tone. Its rings are slightly visible, and provides a longitudinal surface with a light wavy grain or light stripes.

Carving and whittling

Lime wood is one of the easiest woods to work with when carving. Despite being a hardwood, it easily takes in details as it is soft and crisp to carve. With straight grain and even texture, lime wood very rarely warps. This makes it suitable for both small and large pieces, for either carving or whittling.

Sharp cutters are preferable when shaping or planning to avoid fuzzy surfaces. When glueing and applying finishes, lime wood presents a beautiful finish. Often recommended for beginners, lime wood does not cause allergic reactions.


  • Veneer.
  • Carvings.
  • Turned objects.
  • Plywood.
  • Cutting boards.

Keeping tools sharp

While lime wood is an easy wood to work with, it is necessary to keep woodworking tools sharp and well maintained. In order to ensure tools don’t rust, they must be wiped with oil – this includes gouges, chisels, and knives. Properly maintained tools last many years, and allow for optimised carving.

Another tip for having sharp tools is to keep them in separate containers, rather than loose in a box where they bump against each other. Keeping tools in their appropriate places after use also avoids potential accidents that can cause injury and dull of the tools.

With regular sharpening of tools, designs are carved smoothly and tools are always ready to use. Sharpened chisels may reduce the bevel’s angle, which allows for the preferred angle between 15 degrees and 20 degrees. An oilstone is the typical sharpening stone used, either synthetic or natural. Natural oilstones that are more commonly used are the Washita and the Arkansas stones.

--G&S Specialist Timber 12:01, 16 Mar 2017 (BST)

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