You are on page 1of 16

Characteristics of timber Relationship to properties

Maximise
Maximise performance
performanceof
of timber
timber
Intuitive understanding of timber behaviour
Knowledge of Properties and Performance

Physiology of timber fibres, cells, grain, growth rings


Moisture content emc and shrinkage
Creep and duration of load effects
Natural growth characteristics
Structural properties of timber

Performance of Timber

Appearance/Structural/Durability
Appearance
Grain and colour
Feature
Dimensional stability & emc%
Structural
Essential e.g. strength
and stiffness
Utility e.g. dimensional stability
- shrinkage/emc
Straightness - bow, spring, cup
and twist
Durability
Biological hazards
Natural resistance / treatment

Microstructure of Timber
vessels
earlywood

fibres

rays

cells
latewood

Grain
direction

rays

hardwood

softwood

rays

Cells - fibres - mainly longitudinal orientation


Bound together with rays
Higher strength and stiffness parallel to grain

Cells
Chemical components of wood - products of photosynthesis
Cellulose - network of molecules
cell walls - microfibrils - fibrous
Lignin - gel - acts as bonding agent which glues cells
together
Hemicellulose - cross linking - binds cellulose into the cell

Spirally
wound fibres

Straight
fibres

Direction of Strength and


Stiffness
Direction of grain

Strong parallel to grain & Stiff parallel to grain

Weak perpendicular to grain

Moisture in Wood Cells


100%

Growing
tree

Unseasoned
timber
free water
25%
Partially
seasoned
timber
Seasoned
timber

bound water

fibre saturation

15%

removed
bound
water

Moisture in Timber

Moisture content (mc) = weight water


weight wood
in growing tree - mc = 50% to > 100%
felled tree - mc begins to decrease

Fibre saturation point (fsp) (~25%)


above fsp - moisture in cell cavities lost -> little change
in dimension
below fsp - moisture in cell wall lost -> shrinkage perp
to grain

Seasoning - process of removing moisture from


timber
Kiln drying
(steam, LPG gas, solar)
Air drying
Other - chemical, microwave.

Equilibrium Moisture content


(emc)
Wet atmosphere / Dry wood moisture moves to wood

Dry Atmosphere / Wet wood moisture moves from wood

Wood at emc no moisture movement to / from wood


Moisture in wood at
equilibrium with
moisture in atmosphere

Typical
Typical emc
emc Indoor
Indoorair
airconditioned
conditioned
Indoor
Indoorheated
heated
External
External--coastal
coastal
External
External--inland
inland

emc
emc 8%
8%--10%
10%
emc
emc 8%
8%--12%
12%
emc
emc14%
14%--18%
18%
emc
emc10%
10%--15%
15%

Specification of Moisture Content


Usually specified as Seasoned or Unseasoned
Seasoned timber:
mc < 15% - close to emc indoors
will shrink & swell slightly as humidity changes
Everything else:
sold as Unseasoned timber
shrinks on further drying

Effect of mc on properties: reducing mc


an increase in
strength
stiffness (reduced creep)
durability (reduced risk of attack)
effectiveness of coatings

causes

dimensions
A decrease in
dimensions b & d
(shrinkage mainly
perp. to grain)

Shrinkage

Radial
shrinkage

Tangential
shrinkage

Loss
Lossof
ofmoisture
moistureininrange
rangemc
mc<25%
<25%
Reduction
Reductioninincell
cellwall
wallthickness
thickness

Hardwood Softwood

Reduction
Reductioninin
cross-sectional
cross-sectionaldimensions
dimensions

Longitudinal
shrinkage
Shrinkage from 25% to 12%
Radiata Pine
Hoop Pine
Cypress

Rad 3.5%
Rad 2.5%
Rad 3.5%

Tang 4%
Tang 3.5%
Tang 4%

Spotted Gum
Karri
Sydney Blue Gum
Grey Iron Bark
Mountain Ash

Rad 4.5%
Rad 4.5%
Rad 5%
Rad 5.5%
Rad 6.5%

Tang 6%
Tang 10%
Tang 9%
Tang 7.5%
Tang 13%

Shrinkage
Large timber large splits

Restraint of
seasoned timber
- splits

Specify
Specify correctly
correctly
Detail
Detail to
to avoid
avoid problems
problems

Natural growth characteristics


Application dictates selection of
clear (few characteristics)

feature (conspicuous characteristics)

Natural Growth Characteristics


Appearance enhanced - timber shows its
character
Strength decreased: dependent on size and
location of characteristic
Knots - part of a branch extending from pith
Checks - small surface cracks, often caused
in drying
Included bark - pockets with no wood fibres
Others - pith, resin pockets, shakes...

Clear

Feature

Natural features in Sawn Timber


Knots
contain weak juvenile wood,
cause slope of grain @ edge

Centre knots

edge knot

Arris knot

Slope of grain

Especially at edges - low strength


perpendicular to grain decreases strength at angle to grain

Natural features and Properties

Knots
discontinuity of grain at edge
cause slope of grain at an edge
often reduce strength and stiffness

Included bark

Gum and resin veins


less connection across grain
lower shear strength and stiffness

Checks
less connection across grain
reduced shear strength and stiffness

Pith and core wood


contain weak juvenile wood

Utility of Sawn Timber

cup
bow
twist
spring

Trees are prestressed


Cutting boards from trunks
causes stress relief & slow
change in shape of boards
Bent trees can cause slope of
grain in products
Spring is a problem for all
timber

Producers minimise
problems by
good cutting practice
quality control - grading

Summary Properties of Timber


Appearance:
Colour, grain, features, smoothness of surface
Reflect species, growth patterns, history of tree
Specification: species, durability, appearance graded
Utility:
Dimensional stability (shrinkage, twist, bow, cup, spring),
surface hardness
Reflect stress changes with moisture loss, creep
Specification: moisture content
(best close to equilibrium moisture content)
Structural:
Strength (tension, compression, bending, shear, bearing) stronger parallel to grain
Stiffness (MoE) - stiffer parallel to grain
Reflect grain structure, slope of grain, features in timber
Specification: structural grade and species