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Michael, Formosa 1, 2 and Martin, Musumeci 2 Conservation Division, Heritage Malta, Malta Institute of Conservation and Management of Cultural Heritage, University of Malta, Malta
Abstract A computer routine to predict variations in linear dimensions and warping of wood was designed and tested. This routine was applied on both experimental data obtained from laboratory-prepared wood samples as well as other data found in the literature. The two outcomes were compared and contrasted. Predictions resulting from the computer procedure resulted to be reliable only for wood which is straight grained and free from physical constraints and natural defects
The aim of the computer analysis exercise was to predict linear dimensional changes as well as any possible warping (cupping) of unrestricted wood.
A computer routine was devised by using two computer software packages, namely Microsoft Excel and AutoCAD 2000. Data found in the relevant literature was used in order to carry out the necessary workings. The four stages of the computer analysis routine consist of: (i) the end grain photography and line drawing on AutoCAD; (ii) the merging of data into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet; (iii) the interpretation of data and the relevant calculations; and (iv) the re-construction of the panel end grain, considering the predicted contraction/expansion and warping using AutoCAD.
2.1.End grain photography and line drawing by AutoCAD
The first step involved capturing an image of the end view of the panel. In this study, both direct scanning and digital photography were applied. One has to consider that photography has an element of inaccuracy due to perspective illusion. The picture was transferred into AutoCAD and the outline traced. The drawing was then divided into a number of quadrilateral sections, as in the case of ABCD shown in Figure 1. In areas where the radius of curvature of the annual rings was quite small or complex, smaller quadrilateral sections were constructed. The diagonals in each section were then marked (as AD and BC in Figure 1) and the orientation of the grain was marked (as EF in Figure 1). All dimensions (of lines AB, CD, AC, BD, AD and BC) and angles of orientation (0º to 90º) were measured using AutoCAD.
AutoCAD line drawing
Figure 1 - Measuring sides, diagonals some of the angles to grain orientation EF
All the following data was then fed into a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet: • initial temperature (T); • initial relative humidity (RH); • final T; • final RH; • literature value for longitudinal shrinkage (left out if length of panel was not being considered) and when data was not available, a value of 0.1% was assumed;  • literature value for tangential shrinkage of the given type of wood (left out if the width and the thickness of the panel were not being considered); • literature value for radial shrinkage of the wood under test (left out if the width and the thickness of the panel were not being considered); • literature value for the fibre saturation point (FSP), and when not available, a value of 30% was assumed.
2.2.Interpretation of Data and Calculations 2.2.1.Equilibrium Moisture Content (EMC)
Calculation of the initial and final EMC values using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet was carried out by using formula number 1.
Equilibrium Moisture Content 
K K .RH + 2 K1 K 2 K 2 RH 2 ⎤ 1800 ⎡ K .RH + 1 ⎢ ⎥ W ⎣1 − K .RH 1 + K 1 K .RH + K1 K 2 RH 2 ⎦
EMC = equilibrium moisture content RH = relative humidity (%/100) For temperature T in degrees Celcius: W = 349 + 1.29T + 0.0135T2 K = 0.805 - 0.000736T – 0.00000273 T2 K1 = 6.27 – 0.00938T – 0.000303 T2 K2 = 1.91+ 0.0407T – 0.000293T2
2.2.2. Theoretical Dimensional Change
An estimate of the value for shrinkage/expansion was obtained by using formula number 2.
Theoretical dimensional change 
100( MC i − MC f ) FSP − FSP + MC i S
ΔD = dimensional change MCi = initial moisture content (%) MCf = final moisture content (%) FSP = fibre saturation point (%) S = published value for shrinkage (%)
2.2.3. Linear Dimensional Change
Considering that all dimensions in every orientation would undergo radial contraction/expansion, the extent of tangential contraction/expansion needs to be found. Formula number 3 was used to arrive at the final increase/decrease for every dimension recorded.
Linear dimensional change 
⎛ ⎛ Vt − V r ⎞⎤ Di ⎡ ⎞ × O 0 ⎟ + Vr ⎟⎥ ⎢100 − ⎜ ⎜ ⎜ ⎟ 100 ⎣ ⎠ ⎝ ⎝ 90 ⎠⎦
Df = final dimension Di = initial dimension Vt = calculated tangential shrinkage (%) Vr = calculated radial shrinkage (%) OO = orientation (in degrees)
2.3. Reconstruction of the Panel End Grain presenting Contraction/Expansion and Warping on AutoCAD The results obtained as outlined above, by using a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, were then transferred back to AutoCAD. The resulting outline (based on the new set of data) led to the indications of dimensional change as well as any cupping the panel would undergo as a result of changes in the T and the RH. Longitudinal contraction/shrinkage is deemed as insignificant, especially over short lengths, but it can still be predicted by using the same computer routine. 3. LIMITATIONS OF THE COMPUTER ANALYSIS The computer analysis only leads to approximate results. These results are only reliable under given conditions while certain other conditions affect the behaviour of wood. Such instances outlined hereafter.
• • •
The wood panels should be free from natural defects such as: cross grains, knots, compression/tension wood, juvenile wood, etc. The wood should not be restricted by crossbars, frames and/or mounting hardware. Preparation and painting layers (as in panel paintings) lower the accuracy of the results obtained from this computer analysis, especially when cupping is evaluated.
Published literature data for the coefficient of shrinkage (tangential, radial and longitudinal) as well as the FSP are all average values, which might result to be quite different in reality. Dimensional
response of aged wood may result to be slightly lower due to decrease in hygroscopicity and/or the mechanical effects of repeated shrinkage/swelling cycles.  In the case of panel paintings, unpredictable cupping may take place even on radially cut boards due to rapid moisture adsorption by the untreated back. 
4. POSSIBILITY OF ERRORS
As the grain orientation may change, adjacent sides of sections may have slightly different dimensions. Such discrepancies are negligible and are not visible to the naked eye. They may be eliminated by narrowing the sections and, consequently, any changes in grain orientation result to be more gradual.
5. TESTING THE COMPUTER PROCEDURE 5.1.Aim
This test was carried out in order to simulate situations of contraction/expansion as well as warping. Literature data for Shellbark Hickory (Carya laciniosa) were chosen for this test, due to the high tangential and radial shrinkage values, i.e. 12.6% and 7.6% respectively.  The test was also carried out on actual pine samples.
5.2. Test on two shellbark hickory (Carya laciniosa) boards 5.2.1. Method
Two ends of two imaginary boards, having dimensions 400mm by 25mm, were drawn. Four tests were carried out on these virtual Hickory panels. Both the initial T and the final T were taken as 21OC. The three shrinkage coefficients were taken as follows: tangential shrinkage = 12.6%, radial shrinkage = 7.6%, longitudinal shrinkage = 0.1%. The value of the FSP was taken as 30%. Table 1 shows the initial and final RH values for the four tests.
Table 1: Data used for computer tests 1 to 4 Test number 1 2 3 4 Initial RH (%) 90 20 78 78 Final RH (%) 20 90 0 100
The boards were virtually subjected to theoretical, extreme climatic conditions to simulate expansion, contraction and fluctuation of the cupping from convex to concave warping. The outcome of Tests 3 and 4 are illustrated in Figure 3.
Figure 2 - Computer prediction – Tests 3 and 4: expansion and contraction
5.3.Test on Actual Pine (Pinus sp.) Samples
5.3.1. Method Four pine samples were selected for this test. One of the samples had a tangential grain orientation across the width to ensure that cupping would be evaluated apart from linear changes. The samples were dried in an oven (MEMMERT Gmbh, UE/ULE/SLE 500) at a temperature of 103ºC to reach an EMC of 0%, and then placed on a shelve in a sealed container with deionised water to attain a constant RH of 100%, until they reached a FSP value of 31.9%. The longitudinal face and the end grain were scanned just after the sample was oven dried and cooled back to room temperature, and when it reached 31.9% MC. Line drawings using AutoCAD were made when the samples were at 0% MC and at room temperature. Drawings were drawn using a scale of 10:1, for higher accuracy. All dimensions and grain orientations were measured and introduced into the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. The following two predictions were done: (i) Case 1: calculations based on literature data of Pinus eliotta (Slash pine).  (ii) Case 2: calculations based on experimental results. Table 2 shows the data used for these tests.
Table 2: Data used for pine computer program
DATA USED FOR PINE SAMPLE
TEST INITIAL TEMP.ºC INITIAL RH % FINAL TEMP.ºC FINAL RH% TAN% PUBLISHED DATA FOR RAD% LONG% FSP%
CASE 1 CASE 2
Figure 3 shows the final drawings, where the resulting diagrams for both Case 1 and Case 2 were superimposed onto the true scanned images of the pine sample.
Figure 3 – Results of computer analysis carried out on the pine sample
5.3.2. Test Limitations The samples were too small and therefore the margin of error in measurement result to be larger. There must have been greater error with the thickness measurements (c.11mm) when compared with those for the length (c.78mm) and the width (c.89mm). 5.4. Concluding Remarks As can be seen in Figure 3, the predictions resulting from the computer procedure resulted to be very close to the actual, experimental outcome. Although there were slight discrepancies with respect to published values, experimental results were not significantly different, especially if one takes into consideration the relatively small dimensions of the sample used, and that the sample was subjected to extreme conditions, i.e. from 0% to the FSP. As expected, due to the difference between experimental and literature data (a tangential value of 7.91% as compared to 7.6%) the predictions based on the latter values resulted shorter by about 0.75%. Consequently, experimental results gave slightly higher cupping than actually resulted. In general, results seem promising although further tests using other species of wood are needed. Furthermore, samples containing preparation and paint layers should also be considered in order to simulate the situation in panel paintings more closely.
References 1. Simpson, W., TenWolde, A. (1999): “Physical Properties and Moisture Relations of Wood”, Wood Handbook: Wood as an Engineering Material, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison: Ch 3, 3-8. 2.Ibid.: Ch 3, 3-5. 3.Hoadley, R.B., (1998): “‘Chemical and Physical Properties of Wood”, The Structural Conservation of Panel Paintings. Katleen Dardes, Andrea Rothe Eds, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles:12.
4. Formosa, M., (2003): “A Study of the Physical and Mechanical Behaviour of the Wooden Supports of Two Paintings at the Wignacourt Museum, Rabat”. Unpublished B.Cons (Hons) thesis, Malta Centre for Restoration: 64. 5. Hoadley, (1998), op.cit.: 18 6. Ibid.:20. 7. Simpson and TenWolde, (1999), op.cit.:Ch 3, 3-8. 8. Ibid.
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