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Structural Behaviour of Traditional Mortise-And-tenon Timber Joints

Structural Behaviour of Traditional Mortise-And-tenon Timber Joints

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02/01/2013

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Structural behaviour of traditional mortise-and-tenon timber joints
Artur O. Feio1, Paulo B. Louren\u00e7o2 and Jos\u00e9 S. Machado3
1 CCR \u2013 Construtora S.A., Portugal
University Lus\u00edada, Portugal
2 University of Minho, Portugal
3 LNEC, Portugal
Abstract

Timber is one of the most used materials in the roofs and floors of monumental constructions in Portugal. However scarce information is available on the behaviour of traditional mortise-and-tenon joints and the effect that wood properties have on that behaviour.

A study was then carried out on the assessment of ultimate strength capacity, global deformation and failure patterns of wood mortise-and-tenon joints. The study comprise three parts: 1) dealing with the mechanical testing of recent cut chestnut sawnwood and chestnut wood from old timber members; 2) with the experimental test of these joints; 3) with the development of a numerical model (taking wood properties from the results obtained in the first part) and comparison between model and experimental results.

The validation of the non-linear model was performed by means of a comparison between the calculated numerical results and experimental results. The results seems to support that safety assessment of existing timber structures can be made using mechanical and physical properties data from current available chestnut wood. Also, the numerical results provide very good agreement with the experimental results.

1. INTRODUCTION

Timber is one of the most used materials in the roofs and floors of monumental constructions in Portugal. In particular, Chestnut (Castanea sativa Mill.) is usually present in noble constructions, given not only its mechanical and durability properties, but also its aesthetic characteristics.

Carefully conservation or rehabilitation of an existing construction implies extensive knowledge about the materials from which the structure is made, both from the mechanical point of view and from the physical point of view. This knowledge constitutes the support to evaluate the short-term structural behavior and to foresee the continuous adaptation and capacity of response of the material under adverse factors (long-term structural behavior).

In the past, timber structural design was dominated by the carpenter empirical knowledge about timber

structural solutions that performed reasonable well (did not fall), either based upon his previous works or the works of others. Although empirical, the observation of old timber structures show evidence of perfect awareness that some members were subjected to tension and others to compression stresses. A key factor on a suitable structural behaviour of a timber structure deals with a proper design of timber joints. Joints hold on the structure, sustaining the stresses imposed on it and distributes the load between structural members and other parts of the structure. In traditional timber constructions load distribution through joints was made with empirical knowledge, transmitted and improved through generations. The early design rules or standards were built upon this empirical evidence.

A study on mortise-and-tenon joint type was selected because is one of the most commonly used and a typical example of an interlocking joint. Mortise and tenon joints were the basic components of joint craftery in Portugal for connecting two or more linear components, forming a \u201cL\u201d or \u201cT\u201d type configuration. The key problem found in these joints is the possible premature failure caused by large displacements given among other factors its limited shrinkage restraint capability. Unlike most timber joints, the load-displacement behaviour of these joints is generally very ductile.

The bearing capacity of mortise and tenon joints is a function of the angle of the connection, and length of the toe and mortise depth. According to the European building codes, joints are of crucial importance for the seismic design of timber structures. However, there are no recommendations on the design codes about general dimensions, such as length of the toe and the mortise depth in order to avoid structural failure of the connections, being design still very much based on empirical rules.

Therefore, the present study on mortise-and-tenon joints looks into investigate the static behaviour of
real scale replicates, considering joints made from new (NCW) or old (OCW) timber elements,
characterize the ultimate strength and the global deformation of the joint as well as the respective
failure patterns.
2. EXPERIMENTAL TESTS

The present work was carried out with two complementary phases: in a first phase, experimental work has been conducted on a total of 342 specimens of clear wood, with no visible chemical, biological or physical damage, which included standard compression tests, parallel and perpendicular to the grain, and standard tension tests, parallel to the grain, see Fig. 1. For this purpose, it was decided to consider specimens from recently chestnut sawn timber (NCW), which is now available on the market for structural purposes, and specimens from old chestnut timber structural members (OCW) obtained from ancient buildings (in service for over 100 years).

(a)
(b)
Figure 1 - Test set-up for destructive tests: (a) compression parallel to the
grain; and (b) tension parallel to the grain.
Tab. 1 shows the results obtained for the mechanical properties determined over the two different
wood samples chosen.
Table 1: Compression and tension parallel to grain results.
Mechanical properties
Wood type
NCW
OCW
Compression
Strength
Average (N/mm2)
42.9 (15)
47.6 (14)
Characteristic
value (N/mm2)
32.2
36.2
Modulus of elasticity
Average (N/mm2)
7700 (16)
8800 (8)
Characteristic
value (N/mm2)
5700
7600
Tension
Strength
Average (N/mm2)
47.4 (29)
48.1 (23)
Characteristic
value (N/mm2)
40.1
41.4
Modulus of elasticity
Average (N/mm2)
11500 (19)
13700 (19)
Characteristic
value (N/mm2)
8900
10600
(\u2026) Coefficient of variation
Table 2: Comparison between compression and tension parallel to the grain characteristic values.
NCW
OCW
05
,
0
,
05
,
0
,
c
t
E
E
05
,
0
,
05
,
0
,
c
t
f
f
05
,
0
,
05
,
0
,
c
t
E
E
05
,
0
,
05
,
0
,
c
t
f
f
1.32
1.41
1.18
1.23

In a second phase, experimental testing of mortise-and-tenon joints was carried out. A testing set-up was built aiming to test the specimens under compression being the procedure based on EN 26891 (1991) requirements, see Fig. 2a. Eight joints were tested (four for each group of wood) by joining two

NCW (or two OCW) elements (brace and rafter). The joint had in mind the need to avoid \u201cShear
Block\u201d effect on the structural behaviour observed.

The results of the experimental joints tests are presented in Tab. 3. It can be seen that the results presents a huge scatter, ranging from an ultimate force of 98.5 kN up to a force of 161.5 kN. Specimen J_7 can possibly be discarded because the value found is too low and is controlled by a local defect: the large longitudinal crack in the rafter. In this case, the average ultimate force values of the groups NCW and OCW are almost the same, which is in agreement with the values of density found for the sample.

Table 3: Joints experimental results.
Ultimate Force (kN)
Average (**) Std. Dev. Group
J_1
121.6
145.4
18.9
NCW
J_2
161.5
J_3
159.7
J_4
138.9
J_5
126.4
133.8
(145.5*)
27.2
(16.7*)OCW
J_6
157.1
J_7
98.5
J_8
153.0
(*) average discarding specimen J_7
(**)Average values of density (one specimen for each timber element)

Fig. 2b and Fig. 2c show typical individual load-displacements diagrams and envelopes of load- displacement diagrams. From the load-displacement diagrams obtained the following relevant remarks can be drawn. In a first phase, the diagrams always start with an upward curvature, exhibiting a nonlinear, non-recoverable, \u201cbedding\u201d response, which is due to the adjustment of the tenon and the mortise. In a second phase, within working stress levels, the response exhibits an approximately linear branch up to the conventional maximum load, which occurred at an average displacement of 8mm for the NCW group and 7mm for the OCW group.

(a)

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