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1.0 Introduction
1.1Tree Growth
Growth of timber trees is indicated by an annual growth ring added each year to the outer surface of the
tree trunk.
Tree cross section shows two main sections.
1. Sap wood is light in color and may be as strong as heartwood, but it is less resistant to decay.
2. Heart wood is darker and older and more resistant to decay.

Outer Bark
Inner Bark
Cambium Layer
Annual Rings
Medullary Rays
Sap Wood
Heart Wood

1.2 Advantages and Disadvantages of Wood as a Structure

Advantages of wood as structural material
 Wood is renewable.
 Wood is machinable.
 Wood has a good strength to weight ratio.
 Wood will not rust.
 Wood is aesthetically pleasing.

Disadvantages of wood as a structural material

 Wood can burn.
 Wood can decay or rot and can be attacked by insects such as termites.
 Wood holds moisture.
 Wood is susceptible to volumetric instability.
 Wood’s properties are highly variable.

1.3 Factors Affecting the Strength of Wood

 Moisture Content
As moisture content increases up to FSP, strength decreases or vice versa.
 Seasoning of Lumber
Process of removing moisture from wood to bring the moisture content to an acceptable level.
 Duration of Loading
The longer a load acts on a wood member, the lower the strength of the wood member.
 Size classifications of Sawn Lumber
Nominal size versus Actual Size or Dressed Size of Sawn Lumber

1.4 Wood Defects
 Knots
Formed where limbs grow out from a tress stem
 Split or check
Occurs due to separation of wood fibers at angle to annual rings and is caused by drying of the
 Shake
Occurs due to separation of the wood fibers parallel to the annual rings
 Decay
Rotting of wood due to presence of wood-destroying fungi.
 Wane
Defects the corners or edges of a wood cross section lack wood material or have some of the
bark of the tree as part of the cross section.
 Warping
Uneven drying shrinkage of wood, leading the wood member to deviate from the horizontal plan
and vertical plane.

Shake Split Check Knot

Cup (section) Bow (elevation) Crook (plan)

1.5 Lumber Grading

 Visual Grading
Involves inspection of wood member by an experienced and certified grader in accordance with
established rules. The stress grade of a wood member decreases as the number of defects increases
and as their locations become more critical.
 Machine Stress Rating
Nondestructive grading system that is based on the relationship between stiffness and deflection of
wood members.

1.6 Density of Wood

A function of moisture content of the wood and the weight of the wood substance.

1.7 Orientation of Wood Grain
 Axial or Bending Stress Parallel to Grain - Strongest direction for a wood member. See figure a
 Axial or Bending Stress Perpendicular to Grain - Compression perpendicular to grain is usually stronger
than wood in compression perpendicular to grain. See figure b
 Stress at angle to Grain - Lies between parallel to grain and perpendicular to grain. See figure c

Pure tension perpendicular to

the grain not permitted




1.8 Typical Wood Structures in a Building