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Timber is a naturally occurring cellular material that is highly anisotropic. Key advantages of timber are • Contains low embodied energy • Renewable resource • Extremely versatile Steel and concrete are man made so properties can be predicted easily and the quality can be controlled, where as with timber one has to make use of what is available, and modify it to suit the purpose since it cannot be made to order.

The many species of timber used in timber engineering can be divided into two categories: softwoods and hardwoods. Softwood is the timber of a conifer whereas hardwood is that of a deciduous tree. Some softwoods can be quite hard (e.g.Douglas fir), and some hardwoods can be quite soft (e.g. balsa). Strength grading of timber There is a need to have grading procedures for timber to meet the requirements for either visual appearance or strength or both. Strength grading may be described as a set of procedures for assessing the strength properties of a particular piece of timber. The strength grade is arrived at by either visual grading or machine grading. It is convenient to have incremental steps in these strength grades and these are referred to as ‘Strength Classes’. The European strength class system is defined in BS EN 338: 1995 ‘Structural timber. Strength classes’ and this has been adopted for use in BS 5268. There is a set of

Grading. resin and bark pockets and insect damage (refer Figure 1). in accordance with the requirements of BS EN 519: 1995 ‘Structural timber Grading. Requirements for machine strength graded timber and grading machines’. While knots may be the most critical aspect. wane. the rules in BS 4978 also include limitations for the slope of grain relative to the longitudinal axis of the piece of timber. Requirements for visual strength grading standards’ with the requirements for timber to be used in the UK given in detail in BS 4978 ‘Specification for softwood grades for structural use’. so the knot area ratio (KAR) and the disposition of the knots are important. bending strength is influenced mainly by the presence of knots and their effective reduction of the first moment of area of the timber section. distortion (bow. which are abbreviated to GS and SS respectively. • Machine methods. For visual strength grades. spring. BS 4978 describes two grades for visual strength grading: General Structural and Special Structural. fissures. twist and cup). using the principles set out in BS EN 518: 1995 ‘Structural timber. the rate of growth (as given by average width of the annual rings).classes for softwoods – the ‘C’ classes (‘C’ for conifer) – and a set for hardwoods – the ‘D’ classes (‘D’ for deciduous). 2 . Strength grading of solid timber can be achieved in one of two ways: • Visual means.

distortion (bow. In addition.g. E. The modulus of elasticity may be determined in a number of ways such as: applying a known force and measuring the corresponding deflection. and the modulus of rupture of a particular species of timber from a particular geographical location. spring and twist). where a machine process relies upon the flexure of the timber to establish the modulus of elasticity there will be short lengths at the beginning and end of each piece that cannot be tested so it is necessary to visually assess knots and slope of grain in these regions. 3 . resin and bark pockets. applying a known displacement and measuring the force to achieve this. There are certain aspects of the machine-grading process that cannot at the present time be measured by machine and reliance is then placed on visual inspection.Machine strength grading relies essentially on the relationship between Figure 1: Common defects in timber the modulus of elasticity. undue grain distortion that could cause damage on change of moisture content. and by establishing the modulus of elasticity from dynamic measurement. fissures. insect damage and abnormal defects. e. viz.

2 and 3 have been defined.7 10000 6500 560 670 D40 12.0 2.5 12. This is a value intended for use with the limit state Eurocode 5 and has a duration of load equivalent to the time of testing. moisture content of timber exceeds 20% Property 4 K2 .5 3.4 2. be roughly translated to a long-term strength value for use in a permissible stress code such as BS 5268 by dividing by 3.5 7. Grade stresses corresponding to Service classes 1 and 2 Property (N/mm2) Bending Tension // to grain Compression // to grain Compression ⊥ to grain No wane permitted Wane permitted Shear // to grain Mean MOE Minimum MOE Char: Density (kg/m3) Mean Density (kg/m3) D30 9 5.0 10800 7500 590 700 D50 16 9. Timber used in a covered building.8 23 6.0 4.8 2.9 3. i.5 2. a few minutes.6 3. In practice the procedures for arriving at the tabulated grade bending strength values in BS 52682 are rather more sophisticated.6 1.Strength classes (Refer Table 07 extracted from BS 5268 and given in next page) The European standard BS EN 338 ‘Structural timber.8 18 5.2 15000 12600 650 780 D60 18 10.4 18500 15600 700 840 D70 23 13.6 3. Strength classes’ gives nine softwood grades (C14 to C40) and six hardwood grades (D30 to D70).0 2. Service class 1 2 3 Description of service classes Timber used inside a heated building.e.4 9500 6000 530 640 D35 11 6. moisture content of timber is below 12%.4 8. When the timber is exposed to service class 3.6 2. 1.2 4.6 15. Three services classes.6 8. moisture content of timber is below 20% Exposed timber.2 4. the grade stresses corresponding to service classes 1 and 2 need to be multiplied by modification factor K2. however.1 2. It can. The number after the initial letter is the characteristic bending strength of the timber.6 21000 18000 900 1080 Effect of Moisture content Service classes are introduced to take into account the effect of moisture content on timber.2 1.20.

apply to all types of structural elements of timber. (tension members. Dead + Imposed + Wind loads (gust) Effect of load sharing The grade stresses apply to individual elements of timber. Since therefore the timber elements can withstand a greater load for shorter durations.Bending parallel to grain Tension parallel to grain Compression parallel to grain Compression perpendicular to grain Shear parallel to grain Mean and minimum modulus of elasticity 0.50 1.8 Effect of Duration of load The grade stresses are listed for long-term conditions. which is adequately laterally distributed among them. Dead + Imposed + Wind loads Very Short Term.8 0.8 0. Dead + Temporary imposed loads Short Term.6 0. Duration of loading Long Term. This factor applies only to strength and not to stiffness.9 0.00 1. The modification factors discussed above.75 5 . compression members and flexural members). depending on the duration of load. Dead + Permanent imposed loads Medium Term. the grade stresses are multiplied by a factor K3.1.6 0.25 1. The mean modulus of elasticity may be used to calculate the static deflections. K3 1. the grade stresses may be enhanced by a factor K8 equal to 1. When more than four similar elements spaced at a distance less than 610 mm act together to support a common load. There are other modification factors applicable only to certain types of structural elements and these will be discussed at the appropriate stage.

6 .

A beam could fail in bearing either at its supports or at the points of concentrated load. i. A beam could fail in bending.adm. Such a member is subjected to a combination of tensile.e. par = Grade bending stress × relevant K factors Relevant modification (K) factors for bending are K2 K3 K6 Modification factor appropriate to service class Modification factor corresponding to duration of load Modification factor to account for shape 7 . par = Bending Moment Section Modulus σm . Excessive deflection in a beam is also considered a failure mode. adm .e.a. may be defined as a structural element that is subjected to transverse loading at a distance from the supports. as the beam becomes unusable. σ m. when the maximum shear stress reaches the material shear strength. A timber beam must have adequate resistance in bending. Timber poles too are sometimes used to carry bending loads. Design of Timber Beams Timber beams are commonly used as • purlins and rafters in roof structures • supporting members in temporary works Timber flexural members are generally of a rectangular cross-section. The maximum applied bending stress in the member σm. when the maximum bearing stress reaches the bearing strength of the material. compressive and shear stresses and could thus fail in a number of different modes. The compressive forces in the bending member could also cause local buckling in thin section members and / or lateral torsional buckling.a .par must not exceed the permissible bending stress σm.DESIGN OF FLEXURAL MEMBERS A flexural or bending member commonly referred to as a beam.par of the timber. A beam could fail in shear. i. when either the maximum tensile stress reaches the material tensile strength and / or the maximum compressive stress reaches the material compressive strength.

The maximum applied shear stress in the member τ.17 300 h 2 2 0.par of the timber.18 1. the bending strength is modified to allow for the strength variation with depth.81 (h + 92300 ) + 56800 ) A timber beam must have adequate resistance in shear.a. par = Grade shear stress × relevant K factors Relevant modification (K) factors for bending are K2 K3 K5 K8 Modification factor appropriate to service class Modification factor corresponding to duration of load Modification factor to account for notches Modification factor for load sharing Notches at the ends of a beam cause stress concentrations. the bending strength is modified to allow for the shape of the cross section. Depth of member Solid timber members of depth less than or equal to 72 mm Solid and glued laminated beams whose depth is greater than 72 mm and less than 300 mm Solid and glued laminated beams having a depth greater than 300 mm K7 1.11 (h 0. For other depths. Shape of member and loading direction Solid circular cross section Square cross section loaded along a diagonal K6 1. τ a . par = Shear Force Cross Sectional Area × Factor to account for stress distribiti on τ adm. For other shapes.K7 K8 Modification factor to account for depth Modification factor for load sharing The grade bending stress is applicable for sections of a rectangular shape loaded in a direction parallel to one of its edges.41 The grade bending stress is applicable for a section depth of 300 mm. The applied shear stress is determined using the effective depth of the section and the grade bending stress is multiplied by a notch factor Position of notch 8 K5 . This effect is considerably simplified in the check for shear strength.par must not exceed the permissible bending stress τadm.

perp of the timber. perp = Bearing Force Cross Sectional Area σc .perp must not exceed the permissible bearing stress σc. σc . perp = Grade bearing stress × relevant K factors Relevant modification (K) factors for bending are K2 K3 K4 K8 Modification factor appropriate to service class Modification factor corresponding to duration of load Modification factor to account for length and position of bearing Modification factor for load sharing 9 . a .adm. The maximum applied bearing stress in the member σc.adm .a.0 he h Figure 2: Position of notch A timber beam must have adequate resistance in bearing.Notch on the top edge: a ≤ he Notch on the top edge: a > he Notch on the underside h(he − a ) + ahe he 2 1.

20 50 1. For bearings of less than 150 mm length located 75 mm or more from the ends of the member. that is those beams with high depth to breadth ratios.Having an unloaded area adjacent to an area loaded perpendicular to the grain causes the bearing strength to be higher than it would be if the entire block timber were loaded. the value of K4 depends on the actual bearing length as shown: K4 Bearing length (mm) 1. for bearings of 150 mm or more in length at any position.0. This action is more likely in long span beams of slender proportions.10 100 1.14 75 1.33 40 1. for bearings of any length at the ends of a member K4 = 1.53 25 1. the permissible bearing strength is increased. The limiting ratios vary from ‘2’ corresponding to no lateral restraint to a maximum value of ‘7’ corresponding to beams in which the top and bottom edges are fully laterally restrained.0. K4 = 1.67 15 1. A simplified approach is adopted to overcome this problem by limiting the ratios of depth to breadth depending on the type of lateral restraint conditions.74 10 1. Hence depending on the length and position of bearing. 10 .00 150 or more Lateral torsional buckling in timber beams Timber beams could buckle and twist if the compression surface is not braced to prevent it from moving in the lateral direction.

Further restrictions may apply depending on the type of beam and loading. The latter is often relatively small and ignored.003 of the span. However in timber beams of short span and small depth to breadth ratios shear deflection may need to be considered.Deflection The maximum allowable deflection is limited to 0. 11 . Deflection in a beam is due to the combined effects of bending and shear.

a.adm. However tension members do not exist in isolation. Tension Members in Timber Timber tension members are used as • tension chords and internal ties members in trusses and lattice girders in buildings. depending on the wind direction. though this is not specifically mentioned in the current revision of BS 5268: Part 2. A tension member fails with the member tearing apart either due to inadequate tensile strength and / or inadequate crosssectional area to withstand the applied tensile force. Thus the structural element that is predominantly loaded in tension may have to withstand the combined effects of tension and bending. Such members are the most efficient of structural elements since they are mainly subject to a uniform tensile stress throughout the cross-section. In some situations. there could be a reversal of load. It is also the simplest type of structural element to design. Timber poles too are sometimes used to carry tensile forces. particularly in bracing members. A timber tension member must have adequate resistance in tension. These connections often cause a loss of tensile capacity due to the loss of area that occurs at the boltholes. Thus the same structural element may have to be designed to withstand the effects of tension and compression. σt . par = Grade tensile stress × relevant K factors Relevant modification (K) factors for tension are 12 . They need to be connected to other structural elements. The maximum applied tensile stress in the member σt. Bending could also be induced in a tension member due to eccentric connections and /or transverse loading on the member such as the self-weight of the member.par of the timber. a . bridges and towers. par = Tensile Force Effective Cross Sectional Area σt .Long term deflection due to creep may also be significant.adm . DESIGN OF TENSION MEMBERS A tension member may be defined as a structural element that is subjected to a direct pulling action. • ceiling ties Timber tension members are generally of a rectangular cross-section.par must not exceed the permissible tensile stress σt.

For other widths. The tendency for overall flexural buckling depends on the flexibility of the material and the geometry of the member. The effective length is taken as some proportion of the actual length. A compression member fails either by the material crushing or more likely by the member buckling in an overall flexural mode or in the case of thin sections (as in steel) by local buckling.11 The effective cross-sectional area is the actual cross-sectional area appropriate to the exposure condition. Width of member (greater transverse dimension) Solid timber members of width less than or equal to 72 mm Solid and glued laminated beams whose width is greater than 72 mm K14 1. either at that section or within such a distance from it as would affect the strength at that section.17 300 h 0. The material crushes due to inadequate compressive strength and / or cross-sectional area. the tensile strength is modified to allow for the strength variation with width.K2 K3 K8 K14 Modification factor appropriate to service class Modification factor corresponding to duration of load Modification factor for load sharing Modification factor for width The grade tensile stress is applicable for a section width of 300 mm. 13 . bolt or screw holes. DESIGN OF COMPRESSION MEMBERS A compression member may be defined as a structural element that is subject to a direct pushing action. The slenderness is defined as the ratio of effective length to the radius of gyration. A large slenderness indicates a greater instability and tendency to buckle under a lower axial load. The geometry of the member includes • Length of the member • Type of restraints at the ends of the member and also at intermediate positions • Cross-sectional area and shape Most codes of practice introduce the concepts of effective length and slenderness to take into account the effect of the geometry of the member. corresponding to the type of end restraints. mortices etc. allowing for the reduction in area caused by notches.

adm. a . depending on the wind direction. par = Grade compressive stress x relevant K factors Relevant modification (K) factors for compression are K2 K3 K8 K12 Modification factor appropriate to service class Modification factor corresponding to duration of load Modification factor for load sharing Modification factor to account for buckling In the conventional test to determine the compressive strength of timber parallel to grain. Timber poles too are sometimes used to carry compressive forces. there could be a reversal of load. Thus the structural element that is predominantly loaded in compression may have to withstand the combined effects of compression and bending.Local buckling is a phenomenon peculiar to steel members. A timber compression member must have adequate resistance in compression. The maximum applied compressive stress in the member σc. the length of the test specimen is 3 times its plan dimension. particularly in bracing members. par = Compressive Force Cross Sectional Area σc . σc. adm. bridges and towers. 14 . Rigid joints in a frame also induce bending combined with compression.par must not exceed the permissible compressive stress σc. when portions of the member buckle locally.par of the timber. Thus the same structural element may have to be designed to withstand the effects of compression and tension. whose cross sections are of relatively slender proportions. Compression Members in Timber Timber Compression members are used as • Compression chords and internal members in trusses and lattice girders in buildings. The code addresses this problem by reducing the grade compression stress by the modification factor K12. Bending could also be induced in a compression member due to eccentric connections and /or transverse loading on the member such as the wind load on the member. in practice the length or height dimension of a compression member is much greater than its plan dimension and buckling occurs prior to squashing.a. In some situations. • Props in formwork and falsework Timber compression members are generally of a rectangular cross-section. Whereas.

par is modified. The effective lengths of compression members in triangulated frameworks are defined separately in the code. Slenderness limits Type of member Resisting loads other than wind loads. loaded but by its deformation will adversely affect the stress in another member carrying dead and imposed loads Resisting self-weight and wind loads only or Normally acting as a tie but subject to reversal of stress due to wind Limit 180 250 Effective lengths are defined in the code. The load-sharing factor is not applied E min All relevant loading conditions should be considered since Emin and σc. between which the member is in single curvature.The factor depends on the slenderness λ and the ratio σ c . corresponding to different end conditions. even in a load sharing system is the grade compression stress modified for moisture content and duration of load only. par Where Emin σc. However.par is the minimum modulus of elasticity. where the effective length is taken as the distance between points of zero bending moment. They can alternatively be determined from the deflected form.par are both not affected by the duration of load. Only σc. 15 . The value of K12 could be obtained from the formula given in the Appendix or alternatively from the corresponding table in the code.

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