Mechanical Properties of Wood

Because of its structure, wood has different strength properties parallel and perpendicular to the grain. Tensile, bending, and compressive strengths are greatest parallel to the grain and least across the grain, whereas shear strength is least parallel to the grain and greatest across the grain. Except in plywood, the shearing strength of wood is usually governed by the parallel-to-grain direction.
The compressive strength of wood at an angle other than parallel or perpendicular to the grain is given by the following formula:

in which C is the strength at the desired angle  with the grain, C1 is the compressive strength parallel to grain, and C2 is the compressive strength perpendicular to the grain.
Increasing moisture content reduces all strength properties except impact bending, in which green wood is stronger than dry wood. The differences are brought out in Table 4.14. In practice, no differentiation is made between the strength of green and dry wood in engineering timbers, because of seasoning defects that may occur in timbers as they dry and because large timbers normally are put into service without having been dried. This is not true of laminated timber, in which dry wood must be employed to obtain good glued joints. For laminated timber, higher stresses can be employed than for ordinary lumber. In general, compression and bending parallel to the grain are affected most severely by moisture, whereas modulus of elasticity, shear, and tensile strength are affected less. In practice, tensile strength parallel to the grain is taken equal to the bending strength of wood.
In Table 4.14 are summarized also the principal mechanical properties of the most important American commercial species.
Values given in the table are average ultimate strengths. To obtain working stresses from these, the following must be considered: (1) Individual pieces may vary 25% above and below the average. (2) Values given are for standard tests that are completed in a few minutes. Over a period of years, however, wood may fail under a continuous load about 9⁄16 that sustained in a standard test. (3) The modulus of rupture of a standard 2-in-deep flexural-test specimen is greater than that of a deep beam. In deriving working stresses, therefore, variability, probable duration of load, and size are considered, and reduction factors are applied to the average ultimate strengths to provide basic stresses, or working stresses, for blemishless lumber. These stresses are still further reduced to account for such blemishes as
knots, wane, slope of grain, shakes, and checks, to provide working stresses for classes of commercial engineering timbers. (See Sec. 10 for engineering design in timber.)

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