How to Cut Basswood

Lead Image for How to Cut Basswood
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20-250
What You'll Need
Carving Mallet
Carvers bench
Bench dogs

Basswood is a type of hardwood that is used in different woodworking projects. The wood can be used to make wooden structures, such as houses, tables, chairs, and even bridges. It can even be soaked in water and bent to form an arch. Basswood is also a good material for many wooden sculptures.

This hardwood is considered a soft hardwood because of its soft nature compared to other types of woods in the hardwood family. The problem with it is its tendency to get torn easily when cutting with power tools or saws. Because of these specifics, cutting basswood is a lot easier by using hand-cutting tools rather than power tools. Here is a simple guide to cutting basswood.

Step 1–Prepare the Basswood

Position the basswood blocks or planks on the carving bench and secure them into place using bench dogs. Bench dogs are extremely useful when working with wood since they hold the wooden blocks firmly while working on the wood.

Step 2–Study the Grain Structure

Take a look at the grain structure to see the direction of the grain. When working with basswood, make sure not to cut against or across the grain to avoid tearing the wood. Basswood is a very delicate wood to work on, so make sure you cut the wood in the direction of the grain. If you are not sure what direction to cut in, practice on a small block or chunk of basswood first to check which cutting direction works best.

Step 3–Sharpen the Cutting Tools

Make sure that all cutting equipment is sharpened to the point of being razor-sharp. Razor-sharp saws don’t only make the cutting quick, they produce fine and quality cuts as well. On the other hand, cutting tools with dull edges make poor cutting. Dull tools produce cuts that expose the fibers of the wood—an unwanted outcome that cannot be remedied using sandpaper. In order to not destroy or damage the quality of the cuts, always make sure that the cutting tools are sharpened very well.

Step 4–Cut the Basswood

Cut shavings on the wood using gouges and chisels. Drive the cutting tools using a mallet to remove large amounts of wood in a speedy manner. When the unwanted parts of the wood are removed, proceed by cutting finer and thinner shavings to produce a fine finish. Do not cut the wood in chunks, as it will tear the wood apart. Make sure you cut one bite at a time to get quality cuts.

When starting a cut, begin at the edge of the wooden block and work lightly on the cut. Do not push the cutting tool too much, as you may produce a rough cut. The secret to cutting basswood is to cut thin. This method slows down the process, but it ensures a clean and more professional looking cut.