The sapwood of basswood is usually quite large and creamy white in color, merging into the heartwood which is pale to reddish brown, sometimes with darker streaks. The wood has a fine uniform texture and indistinct grain that is straight.
Basswood machines well and is easy to work with hand tools, making it a premier carving wood. It nails, screws, and glues fairly well and can be sanded, stained, and polished to a good smooth finish. It dries fairly rapidly with little distortion or degrade. It has a fairly large shrinkage but good dimensional stability when dry.
The wood is light and soft with generally low strength properties and a poor steam bending classification.
Non-resistant to heartwood decay, sapwood is liable to attack by the common furniture beetle. The wood is permeable for preservation treatment.
Carving, turning, furniture, pattern-making, mouldings, interior joinery and musical instruments. An important specialized use is Venetian blinds.