Forget those home improvement and hobby stores. You won’t find good carving wood there. You want Basswood. For the beginner and master carver alike, it is hands down the best wood for carving. It is consistent in color and more importantly, it has an extremely straight grain.
Let’s start with the important stuff, “Where do you get it?” Read further on to learn more about basswood and why it’s the carver’s choice.
Buying straight from a wood supplier is the best way to acquire your wood. Many carvers will go to a nearby annual wood carving show in their area that generally have wood vendors attending. They will stock up on many various sizes to use throughout the year until the next show. Specialty stores such as Rockler and Woodcraft can also be resources for basswood if you happen to have one close by.
You can (and I have) order directly from a wood supplier. Heinecke Wood Products is a popular vendor who accepts custom orders and has a large selection of sizes and shapes. Another good one is Loess Hills Sawmill.
This North American species of Tilia americana is also known as: American basswood, American lime, and American linden.