Lime (Tilia spp.)

Lime timber, derived from Tilia spp. trees has a light creamy colour and fine, even grain. In boxmaking, we choose woods for their decorative appeal rather than their strength.

Characteristics of Lime

  1. Colour/Appearance — Typically pale white to light creamy brown, often with a subtle, uniform appearance that does not overshadow finely detailed work. Its consistent colouring is prized in applications where the natural beauty of the wood should complement, rather than dominate, the design.
  2. Grain/Texture — The grain is straight and fine, with a very smooth texture that carvers find ideal for detailed work. It has a soft, even texture that makes it easy to work with using hand tools.
  3. Odour — A very light, almost imperceptible scent when being worked.
  4. Sustainability — Lime trees grow relatively quickly and are commonly found throughout Europe and North America, making them a sustainable choice when sourced from responsibly managed forests.
  5. Common Uses — Particularly favoured for detailed carving, Lime is extensively used in sculptural work, intricate joinery, and musical instrument making, such as wind instruments. It is also popular in model making and is a preferred material for artists’ mannequins and anatomical models due to its workability and fine grain.
  6. Alternative Names — Known as Linden in the United States and parts of Europe, and as Basswood in other regions. These names often refer to the same species or closely related species within the Tilia genus.
  7. Countries of Origin — Widely distributed across Europe, North America, and parts of Asia, reflecting its adaptability to different climatic conditions and environments.
  8. Box/Furniture Making — Not commonly used for large furniture pieces due to its relatively soft nature, Lime is excellent for decorative elements within furniture, offering a fine surface for painted finishes and detailed ornamental work.

Wood Alternatives Based on Colour

  1. Poplar — Offering a similarly light colour and soft texture, Poplar is an alternative that is also easy to carve and widely available.
  2. Birch — Provides a slightly harder surface but maintains a light colour, suitable for detailed work and finer finishes.
  3. Maple — Harder than Lime, Maple can be used for applications requiring a fine, consistent finish with greater durability.


Lime wood, with its light colour and exceptionally smooth grain, is highly regarded for detailed carving and fine woodworking. Its ability to be shaped with ease makes it a top choice for artists and craftsmen focused on precision and intricate designs. The sustainability of Lime, coupled with its aesthetic and workable qualities, ensures its continued popularity in both artistic and practical woodworking applications.

More information for Lime

Find more information about the tree species Tilia spp. or more uses of Lime wood.

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