FIGURE 3-2  Nomenclature for woods.

Annual rings Concentric layers of wood that can be seen at
the end of a tree trunk that has been cut perpendicular to
its length. The rings are caused by the different rates of
growth during each year as the seasons change.
Bark The external covering of a tree trunk or branch.
Check A radial crack that cuts across the grain lines.
Compression failures Wrinkles or streaks across the grain
line caused by mechanical stress on the wood after the
annual rings had grown. For detection, compression failures may require close examination with a light source
aimed almost parallel to the grain structure.
Compression wood Deformed grain structure in the wood
caused by mechanical stress on the tree, such as supporting the weight of a heavy limb, during growth. It is
characterized by wide annual rings when compared to the
normal size of the tree’s growth rings.
Decay A biological growth living off of the wood and causing a breakdown in the strength of the wood. Discoloration
may also be present.
Grain The lines in wood caused by the annual rings. Grain
also refers to the direction of the wood fibers.
Hard knot A knot that is firmly embedded in the wood and
shows no sign of coming loose.
Heartwood The center part of a tree trunk, which is dead
and carries no sap. This part of the tree serves only to
support the tree.
Knot The base of a limb inside the tree. A knot will cause
a deviation of the grain lines as they form around the
Mineral streaks Coloring in the wood caused by minerals
in the soil or other naturally occurring agents during the
tree’s growth.
Moisture content The weight of water contained in a wood
sample compared to the weight of the wood sample if all
the water was removed from it.
Pin knot A knot resulting from the growth of a twig.
Pitch pocket Voids between the annual rings that contain
free resin. These pockets are usually relatively small in
cross section and are not to be confused with shakes,
which can be extensive.

Sapwood The part of a tree that is alive or partially alive
and carries sap. Sapwood begins immediately under the
bark and extends to the heartwood. The sapwood is often
lighter in color than the heartwood.
Shake A separation between the annual ring layers.
Spike knot A knot that was cut through parallel to the limb
during the sawing operation such that the knot runs across
the board.
Split A crack in the wood resulting from rough handling.
Springwood The soft, light-colored part of the annual ring.
This wood ring is normally wider than the summerwood
ring because of the rapid tree growth during the spring
Summerwood The harder and usually darker part of each
annual ring. This wood is formed during the slow summer
season growth.

Evaluating Wood for Aircraft Use
The primary requirement for wood that is to be used in aircraft structures is that it be sufficiently sound and of such
quality that it will provide the strength required for the
structure. It has been determined through research that Sitka
spruce is generally the best wood for use in aircraft structures
because of its combination of lightness, strength, stiffness per
unit weight, and toughness when compared to other species.
Because of specific requirements, other species may be used
due to unique qualities within the general evaluation criteria.
The following paragraphs discuss the wood characteristics
that the technician must consider when selecting wood of the
desired species.
There are two classifications of water in wood, free water
and cell water, as shown in Fig. 3-3. Free water is the water
that flows up and down the tree carrying nutrients. Cell water
is water trapped within the walls of the wood cells’ structure
and is part of the structure of the tree. Aircraft woods are
kiln-dried to remove all the free water and a portion of the
cell water, so the resulting moisture content is between 8 and
12 percent. A moisture content above or below this range is
not considered acceptable.
Kiln-dried wood is dried by placing the boards of freshcut wood in a precisely controlled oven and raising the

FIGURE 3-3  A wood cell before (left) and after (right) drying.
When the cell water is removed, the wood shrinks and becomes

70      Chapter 3  Fabrication and Repair of Wood Structures

03_Kroes Maintenance_Ch03_p069-088.indd 70

22/03/13 6:12 PM

The core is the FIGURE 3-5  The maximum slope allowed in aircraft wood is 1:15. wood and is illustrated in Fig. splits. is another criterion that must be checked for aircraft-quality wood.54 cm]. compression failure. aircraft technicians should not use any wood about which they have doubts. but it also kills the insects and decayproducing organisms that may have infected the wood. This is best done by looking at the end of a board and measuring a 1-in [2. When repairing or rebuilding wood components.13-lB provide that certain minor defects. and guaranteed as aircraft-quality.FIGURE 3-4  This illustration shows two methods of cutting a log to obtain quarter-sawed wood.54 cm] from the edge of the board when it is 15 in [38. This means that a grain line starting at the edge of the board may not move more than 1 in [2. or grain count. Not only does this process reduce the moisture content to the desired level. which must have a minimum of eight rings per inch [2. if the grain lines are sufficiently straight. As a practical rule. with the exception of Port Orford white cedar and Douglas fir. or any other possible defect. mineral streaks. The minimum grain count for most softwoods is six rings per inch [2. The slope of a grain line is determined by looking at the side of a board and noting the angle that the grain line makes with the edge of the board. and if there is a minimum number of annual rings per inch. Specifications for aircraft woods as given in Federal Aviation Advisory Circular (AC) 43.54 cm]. The specific gravity of aircraft woods should be from 0. but a deviation or slope of 1:15 is allowed. pin knot clusters. For practical purposes. 3-4. shakes. or edge-sawed. because this affects the strength of the piece of wood and the shrinkage characteristics of the wood. The grain structure of the wood must be examined to determine if the wood has been properly cut. free from cracks. Aircraft Woods        71 03_Kroes Maintenance_Ch03_p069-088. and irregularities in grain direction. The number of annual rings per inch. the following defects are not acceptable: checks. Wood Substitutions temperature to a specified level for a specified period of time. aircraft solid wood should be cut so that the annual rings are parallel to the narrow dimension of the board. The way a board is cut is important. and spike knots. may be permitted if such defects do not cause any appreciable weakening of the part in which they appear. with spruce being the reference wood.40.1 cm] from the starting point. decay. and the inner layers are called the core and crossbands. or the face and back. and different working qualities. species substitution may be allowed if the structural strength of the component is not reduced.34 to 0. a board is considered to be quarter-sawed if the annual rings are at an angle no greater than 45° to the narrow dimension. location.indd 71 22/03/13 6:12 PM . are hard knots. 3-5. Note that the choice of a substitution may have to take into account changes in size. knots. depending on their size. Ideally. such as small solid knots and wavy grain. Defects that might be acceptable. Table 3-2 shows types of wood that may be considered for substitution. This is known as quarter-sawed. The grain count is taken by counting the number of grain lines (annual rings) per inch on the sample. as shown in Fig. The outside layers are called the faces. compression wood.54-cm] line perpendicular to the annual rings. different bonding qualities.36. the grain lines will be parallel to the edge of the board. When evaluating wood. Aircraft spruce should have a specific gravity of approximately 0. The safe policy is to use wood that is straight-grained. Plywood Plywood is composed of an uneven number of layers (plies) of wood veneer assembled with the grain of each layer at an angle of 45° to 90° to the adjacent layers. and condition. depending upon the type of wood. Evaluation criteria for these defects are given in Table 3-1. Ideally.

indd 72 22/03/13 6:12 PM . The core and crossbands may be made of basswood or a similar wood that provides adequate strength.TABLE 3-1  Wood defects Defect Acceptability Checks Not acceptable. if local irregularities do not exceed limitations specified for cross grain. along the edges of rectangular or beveled unrouted beams. Compression failure Not acceptable. center ply.18 mm] in depth and providing they are not along the projecting portions of I-beams. Every layer of wood in a sheet of aircraft plywood must be of excellent quality to provide for uniform strength throughout. Its change in dimension is negligible with changes in moisture content. When selecting or ordering plywood for aircraft use. Shakes Not acceptable.81 cm] in length by 81 in [3. Pin knot clusters Small clusters are acceptable. providing they are at least 14 in [35. Decay Not acceptable. (2) they do not cause grain divergence at the edges of the board or in the flanges of a beam more than 1:15. Laminated wood differs from plywood in that each layer of wood has the grain running in the same direction. along the edges of the flanges of box-beams. Curly grain Acceptable if local irregularities do not exceed limitations specified for cross grain. and the layers between the core and outer layers are the crossbands. Laminated Wood Laminated wood is several layers of solid wood bonded together with an adhesive. 72      Chapter 3  Fabrication and Repair of Wood Structures 03_Kroes Maintenance_Ch03_p069-088. Interlocking grain Acceptable if local irregularities do not exceed limitations specified for cross grain. Wavy grain Acceptable. heated hydraulic press. diagonal grain.8 cm] to another knot or other defect (pertains to 83 -in [9. or a combination of the two is acceptable providing the grain does not diverge from the longitudinal axis of the material more than 1:15. Otherwise.7 mm] must be used with caution. Cross grain Spiral grain. Laminated wood tends to be more rigid than a piece of solid wood of the same size and is much more resistant to warpage. and (3) they are in the center third of the beam and are no closer than 20 in [50. whereas birch is of a light yellow or cream color. providing they produce only a small effect on grain direction. not acceptable. Spike knots Not acceptable. providing careful inspection fails to reveal any decay. The layers of plywood are bonded with special adhesive of the synthetic resin type such as phenol formaldehyde adhesive. Mineral streaks Acceptable. Compression wood Not acceptable. or along the edges of flanges of box-beams (except in lowly stressed portions). It must be emphasized that aircraft plywood is of much higher quality than commercial grades. If the deviation is greater than specified. Mahogany has a reddish-brown appearance. whereas plywood has the grain direction of each layer at a large angle to the previous layer. Pitch pockets Acceptable in center portion of beam. Knots greater than 41 -in [5.5 mm] knots—smaller knots may be proportionally closer). The direction of free-flowing ink will frequently assist in determining grain direction. Not acceptable if accompanied by decay. Hard knots Sound hard knots up to 83 in [9. Laminated wood is used for components that require a curved shape. such as wing-tip bows and fuselage formers. Not acceptable if they produce a large effect on grain direction. Some commercial plywoods appear to be as good as aircraft plywood. Flat aircraft plywood is usually assembled with a thermosetting (hardened by heat) adhesive in a large. the technician should make sure that the wood is of aircraft quality. Plywood has a number of advantages over solid wood in that it is not likely to warp. Splits Not acceptable. and is used in place of solid wood. however.56 cm] apart when they lie in the same growth ring and do not exceed 1 21 in [3. and its strength is almost equal in any direction when stresses are applied along the length or width of a panel. it will be found that the quality is only on the surface and the strength does not compare with the aircraft-quality product. A check of all four faces of the board is necessary to determine the amount of divergence. along the edges of rectangular or beveled unrouted beams.5 mm] in maximum diameter are acceptable providing: (1) they are not in projecting portions of I-beams. Mahogany offers a better bonding surface than birch because of its porosity. the wood is not acceptable. The most commonly used types of plywood for aircraft manufacture are mahogany and birch.18 mm] width by 81 in [3. it is highly resistant to cracking. such as for solid-type wing spars.

Yellow   (Liriodendron tulipifera) Slightly less than spruce except in compression (crushing) and shear 1:15 May be used as substitute for spruce in same sizes or in slightly reduced sizes providing reductions are substantiated. Casein adhesives are manufactured from milk products. warping. Upland growth superior to lowland growth. May be used as direct substitute for spruce. and splitting. Casein adhesive should not be used anymore due to inferior performance. glauca) 100% 1:15 Excellent for all uses. there is complete contact of adhesive and wood surfaces over the entire area of the joint and a thin. continuous film of adhesive between the wood layers unbroken by foreign particles or air bubbles. and require the addition of sodium salts and lime to prevent attack by microorganisms. Difficult to work with hand tools. May be used as direct substitute for spruce in same sizes providing shear does not become critical.indd 73 22/03/13 6:12 PM . The synthetic resin adhesives are commonly used in modern construction and repair operations. Bonding satisfactory. Large solid pieces should be avoided due to inspection difficulties. Satisfactory characteristics with respect to workability. it may be Adhesives and Bonding Procedures        73 03_Kroes Maintenance_Ch03_p069-088. phenol formaldehyde. Northern White   (Pinus strobus) Properties between 85 and 96% those of spruce 1:15 White Cedar. Excellent working qualities. and considerably more care in manufacture is necessary. If either the adhesive or the wood is not of satisfactory quality or if the techniques employed are not correct. Bonding difficult. Easy to work with hand tools. May be used as substitute for spruce in same sizes or in slightly reduced sizes providing reductions are substantiated.   White (P. Douglas Fir   (Pseudotsuga taxifolia) Exceeds spruce 1:15 Noble Fir   (Abies nobilis) Slightly exceeds spruce except 8% deficient in shear 1:15 Western Hemlock   (Tsuga heterophylla) Slightly exceeds spruce 1:15 Pine. Depending on the formulation of the adhesive. Bonding satisfactory. resorcinol formaldehyde. and epoxy types. Port Orford   (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana) Exceeds spruce 1:15 Poplar. A part is regarded as satisfactorily bonded if the strength of the joint is equal to the strength of the wood. Considered as standard for this table. Bonding satisfactory. Adhesives and Bonding Procedures Adhesive are used almost exclusively for joining wood in aircraft construction and repair. Bonding satisfactory. Excellent working qualities and uniform in properties but somewhat low in hardness and shock-resisting capacity. casein and synthetic resin. Hardness somewhat less than spruce. To accomplish satisfactory bonding in aircraft wood structures. rubra). Less uniform in texture than spruce. but satisfactory joints can be obtained if suitable precautions are taken. Types of Adhesives There are two broad categories of adhesive used in aircraft wood structure. Somewhat low in shock-resisting capacity.TABLE 3-2  Aircraft woods Species of wood Strength properties as compared to spruce Maximum permissible grain deviation (slope of grain) Remarks Spruce (Picea)   Sitka (P. Should not be used as a direct substitute for spruce without carefully accounting for slightly reduced strength properties. sitchensis).   Red (P. Synthetic adhesives should be the first option for bonding wood structure. it is necessary that a number of exacting rules be observed and that all materials be of the high quality specified for aircraft woodwork. Bonding satisfactory. Cannot be used as substitute for spruce without increase in sizes to compensate for lesser strength. are highly water-resistant. Synthetic adhesives are of the urea formaldehyde. Some tendency to split and splinter during fabrication. In a strong joint. the bonding operations will be inferior and may result in failure.