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Semi rigid Timber Frame and Space Structure Connections by Glued-in Rods

Milan Vašek
MSc, PhD, Professor
Czech Technical University, Faculty of Civil Engineering, Department of Steel and Timber Structures
Prague, Czech republic

Short description of the design of timber frame joints with glued-in rods is given. Several types of
tested joints are shown. The organization of experiments and specimens preparation is described.
The glued-in rods connection between timber and steel member at hybrid frame is used and the
results of experiments are given. The steel joint with glued-in rods that enables in-situ assembly of
the semi-rigid timber frame was also tested and analyzed. Test of timber frames in the scale 1:1 and
the results and their evaluation are briefly presented. The finite element analysis and modeling of
joints by the ANSYS program is introduced and M-ϕ curves are derived from the experiments and
compared with numerical analysis results. The joint of space spherical or cylindrical dome provided
from timber bars ended with glued-in rods was developed and tested and analyzed by FEM. Tests of
the sector of space spherical dome was tested in the scale 1:1.

1. Introduction
The energy need for the civil engineering materials is in contrast with the problems due to the air
pollution and warming of the atmosphere. The wood is one of oldest structural materials that grows
naturally and don’t produce any air pollution. The structural sizes and carrying capacity is limited
by the wood material properties. The cost of timber structures is competitive to the steel and to the
concrete or brick structural systems. Several structural timber systems are possible to be used for
the civic buildings and dwelling houses. The critical part of any timber system is in connections
where the concentrations of stresses in several directions are. The wood properties are entirely
different at the grain direction and at the direction perpendicular to grain. The connection can be
easily destroyed because of the exceeded strength in one direction. At the timber is usually critical
the direction perpendicular to the grain. The connections of timber structures are usually acting as
pinned joints transferring axial and shear forces only. The design of rigid or semi-rigid timber frame
can be one of the possible solutions for several stories building for dwelling houses or offices etc.
One of the possible solutions is the application of glued-in-rods, that are long time known
technique. This technique is still subjected to the further development as is realized for example in
contribution [1]. We started the research in this field in 1998 [2]. The glued-in rods are used often
for the strengthening of some overstressed part, but the possibility to use it for the semi- rigid
connection in bending is obvious idea. The problem is the realization of joints in situ because of the
technology of gluing needs some special conditions. Therefore the combination with the steel part
in joint allows the dry process of the structure and assembly should be used. The behavior of such a
joint is of course semi-rigid and the analysis needs complex approach with experiments and e.g.
finite element solution. The obvious geometric shape of building is rectangular block. Therefore the
connection of vertical columns and horizontal girders is investigated at many institutions. Some
description of results from our continuing research is published at [3] and [4] and [5]. However the
space frame structures need the connection of more members under different angles. Usually the
rotationally symmetric joints are used. The glued-in rods offer similar type of the end connection of
bar member in space structure as some other well known systems, that is threaded rod or bolt that
can be assembled by tightening of nuts in-situ. In this contribution is described a part of the
research on semi-rigid joints for rectangular semi- rigid frames and space spherical or cylindrical
domes. This joint is rotationally symmetric and his behavior is also semi-rigid but in the space has
to be checked the semi-rigidity with respect to all the six general forces in 3D space. The work that
deals with semi-rigidity in space is [6].
2. Experimental program
2.1 Properties of used materials
The profiles were laminated from Czech timber. For the
Wood characteristic laminated Czech spruce timber the Swedish glue either
Cascomin 1242 or Cascomin 1240 produced by AZKO
Ex [MPa] 9754.0 NOBEL was used. The steel threaded rods, zinc coated is
Ey [MPa] 509.0 made from steel S235, but the threads are cold formed;
therefore the yield point is 95% of the ultimate strength. Steel
Ez [MPa] 851.0 were tested informatively for the tension, modulus of
Prxy 0.42 elasticity was used nominally guaranteed by the steel and rods
Pryz 0.35 producer. The steel used for the tubular rectangular section is
S355. Threaded rods properties were tested and the yield
Prxz 0.37 point fu = 400 MPa, was found. Young’s modulus of elasticity
Gxy [MPa] 686.0 was taken as E = 210 GPa, Poisson ratio = 0.3. Threaded rods
Gyz [MPa] 69.0 are glued into the timber by epoxy resin with small viscosity
Gxz [MPa] 731.0 less then 5 Pa.s. to obtain good filling by the glue in 200 mm
deep holes. Epoxy resin 455 was used with the hardener
Tab.1 Wood properties Telalit 0252. Epoxy is low molecular weight resin based on
used in numerical models biphenyl A modified by glycidyl type with non-functional
reactive solvent and non-reactive diluents. All these materials
are available in the market.
The properties of laminated wood are varying also over the cross section according to lamellas.
Therefore to evaluate general wood properties over the beam is for the practical reason almost
impossible. Therefore the only strength of the cut out lamella parallel to the grain and perpendicular
to the grain was tested for the each set of specimens. This allows us to classify the wood roughly.
The set of material properties is needed for the FE analysis. These properties that are taken for the
orthotropic material from the reference [7] are presented in the table Tab.1.

2.2 Joints of column and girder by glued-in rods

For the block shape of the building were tested joints of the shape T and L that are crucial for the
structure. Some pilot tests on X shape were also done. The arrangement of tested specimens is
shown at the figure Fig.1. The specimens on figure Fig.1 were connected by glued-in rods by
epoxy resin in drilled holes in members. This was good mainly for the laboratory testing of the joint

Fig. 1 The T and L shapes of experimental specimens

and for the determination of the M-ϕ curve that is necessary to know for the non-linear analysis of
the frame with the semi-rigid joint. Several arrangements of glued-in rods were tested. Basic
arrangement used two rows of threaded rods; both rows were located near by lower and upper face
of the girder. These rods were glued in the direction of the grain and therefore it was necessary to
take care about the non desirable effect of stresses perpendicular to the grain. These stresses are
usually sources of any collapse of any member subjected to the bending and some other loads
perpendicular to the grain. To the column are rods glued-in the direction perpendicular to the grain.
Rods of Ø 16 mm and Ø 14 mm were used; that was the best suited for the presumed forces in the
members. Sizes of joint members were designed for the life load about 3 kN/m2. The effect of the
less members with smaller diameter of rods was also tested (rods Ø 10 mm in two rows near by face
of timber), but no significant difference comparable with joints with bigger rods was observed. The
collapse usually started in the girder due to the stresses perpendicular to the grain. Therefore the
strengthening of the area with glued-in rods by short small rods oriented in the direction
perpendicular to the grain was used. There was no significant effect observed. The substantial effect
would be with relatively long rods and this arrangement is not really practical and was not followed
2.3 Hybrid joint of steel column and timber girder
The groups of experiment with steel column to that are connected joists with glued-in rods were
tested. This arrangement use high rigidity of the steel column from hot rolled section and relatively
far less rigid timber joist. The connection is possible to be made in-situ by placing nuts and washers
only. No special steel joint body is needed. The behavior of that joint was more rigid then the

Fig.2 Hybrid joint –arrangement of the test and collapse

behavior of joints with glued-in rods. Further investigation on these joints will be continuing. This
system seems to be very efficient and resistant. The steel thin profile has to be protected against fire
and doesn’t need to be visible. The wooden ceiling is good looking and has a good performance
from the point of so called ”warning” in the case of collapse of the structure. Tested specimens are
shown on figure Fig. 2. The collapse of all joints was always by the horizontal shear stress and the
structure was rigid according to the column rigidity. However the behavior of the whole frame
should be more flexible due to more deformation energy spent.
2.4 Joint with steel body and glued-in rods
The joint with steel parts that are connected through rods glued in the body of timber joints was
developed. This type enables erection of the semi rigid frame with the span about 4,5 m and the
height of the building that is limited by fire codes can be satisfied from the point of view of the
rigidity of building in horizontal direction. The joint allows connecting columns and girders in both
perpendicular direction and the space 3D frame can be assembled. The effect of stresses
perpendicular to the grain is almost eliminated by the girder elements, vertical shear forces are
carried by the vertical steel rod that is connecting both steel boxes near by the upper and lower face
of the girder. The entire group of tests shown similar behavior as the joint with the simply glued-in
rods and derived rigidity represented by M-φ curves were good suited for the stepwise solution of
semi rigid frames. At the following figure Fig.3 is shown the visualization of the model of the upper
part of joint and the tested joint and the collapsed joint. The upper part of joint usually collapsed.
This part was subjected to the tension at upper fibers of the beam as is on the Fig.3. There is also
visible the slip of the wooden part in the vicinity of glued rod. The shear strength of wood was
crossed over. We never observed the tear out of the rod in the layer of the resin. The plastic
deflection of steel part of the joint is visible at the Fig.3. due to bad tightening of nuts. The
connection of welded rods to the steel part glued to the beam was tested. The collapse usually
occurred due to broken rods that were heavily influenced by the temperature due to the welding.

Fig.3 Visualization and the collapse of the experimental specimen with steel body of the joint

2.5 Experiment on semi-rigid frames in the scale 1:1

After the evaluation of these specimens also the frame in the scale 1:1 was tested. Three frames
were tested, first had only glued joint with rods and two other frames had steel assembled joints.
The specimen was placed on floor for the easier manipulation. Two loads were applied on the frame
beam and one force simulating the wind was applied in the corner of frame and was in the direction
of the beam. The frames had bigger carrying capacity then correspond to single joints. The collapse
started at the frame corners by cracks in the direction perpendicular to the grain of the beam. Tested
frame and start of the collapse is at figure Fig. 4.

Fig.4 tested frame and the start of beam collapse due to stresses perpendicular to the grain

2.6 Experiments on sector of space spherical dome with steel joint with glued–in rods
For the space dome the rotationally symmetric steel body was developed. This steel part developed
for the system made from timber bars with glued-in rods at the end is following previously
investigated joint for steel space roof. This joint was prepared and tested at [8] and further studied
at [6]. Joint for the steel dome and new modification for the timber system are at the figure Fig.5.
The sector was tested in the scale 1:1, vertical load was applied on the joint and we examine
behavior under tension and compression. The horizontal load was also applied for certain
specimens to simulate complex situation in the real dome.
The glued-in rods are connected to the body of joint by nuts with special threaded washer to
provide transfer of the forces between joint and glued-in rod directly through the washer to avoid
compression of the front wood of the member. The arrangement without these washers led to the

Fig.5 CAD model of the joint for steel space dome and the steel joint for the dome with glued –in rods
development of mechanism at joint due to the geometric imperfections that could cause collapse of
the joint by the rotation of the part of structure tangentially with respect to the spherical surface. On
the figure Fig.6 is shown the arrangement of the test and the case of unstable developed mechanism
due to the plastified rods.

Fig.6 Test of the sector, collapse due to buckling and crash of one member, mechanism

3. Finite element models

3.1 Semi rigid frame models

For the purpose of numerical analysis the program ANSYS version 10 was used. The evaluation of
experiments and also the finite element models were mainly focused on M-φ curves of joints.
These characteristics define the rigidity of joints and they are suitable for the analysis of semi-rigid
frame as is recommended by [9]. Final results were M-φ curves for the joint with steel part that
should be the system that is possible to be practically used.
The SOLID45 was the basic element used for the timber modeling and for the steel rods. For the
steel box part of joint the SHELL181 was used. Elements allow us to use non-linear material
properties and they can be used for the consideration of large deformations and stresses. FE models
correspond exactly to the geometry of tested joints. The material models for steel and glue in
ANSYS were considered as ideal elastic-plastic materials; the ultimate strength point for the glue
is assumed to be equal to the yield point (fu = fy). All types of tested joints have been calculated
and the results were compared with the experiments. Regression analysis and evaluation of further
experimental results are now under the progress. Wood and steel properties were already mentioned
at the start of the section about material used.
The layer of epoxy resin was modeled by the couple of element TARGE170 and CONTA174. The
glue is assumed to act for the transfer of forces until the strength of the glue is over crossed. The
opening between the glued surfaces occurs after that. Therefore the behavior of the contact element
was chosen as bonded together with non-published characteristics that allow us to define maximum
strength of the glue in tension and shear. The ultimate tension stress and shear are defined as real
constants for the CONTA174 (characteristic 27, 28 in the element description). For the wood the
elastic behavior was assumed by now.
Timber was modeled as linear orthotropic material. Material properties used in this work for the FE
models are given in the table Tab.1
The research of first author’s previous PhD student Dr. Lojik shown that the part of the structure
that could be treated as joint has the influence to the behavior of whole system [6]. The results that
express actually St. Venant principle were controlled and reached from the energy spent for the
deflection of the part of the structure taken into the account. The test of whole frame leads,
according to these results, to the higher rigidity and carrying capacity than correspond only to
evaluation from tests and models of joints. The problems of the numerical analysis correspond to
the values of material properties that should satisfy the equation (1). The measured values differ
obviously from the orthotropic model and are rather difficult to find set that gives good
correspondence with this equation (1).
1 − ν ν ν 0 0 0 
 ν 1 −ν ν 0 0 0 
 
 ν ν 1 −ν 0 0 0 
 1  (1)
[D ] = E
 0 0 0 (1 − 2ν ) 0 0 
(1 + ν )(1 − 2ν )  2
1 
 0 0 0 0 (1 − 2ν ) 0 
 2 
 0 1
 0 0 0 0 (1 − 2ν )
2 

Fig. 7 Model of the T joint , models of steel parts, Von Misses stresses at the steel part o f the joint

M-φ M-φ
45.0 40.0

40.0 35.0

Ohybový moment [kNm]

Ohybový moment [kNm]


LOC 14
TOC 14
15.0 Poly . (LOC 14)
Poly . (TOC 14)


0.00 0.20 0.40 0.60 0.80 1.00 1.20 1.40 1.60 1.80 2.00
0.00 0.50 1.00 1.50 2.00 2.50
natočení [deg] 2
natočení [deg] y = -15.079x + 45.19x
y = -9.0365x + 37.245x

Fig.8 T joint M-φ Fig.9 L joint M-φ

M =-9.0356 φ2 + 37.245 φ M =-15.079 φ2 + 45.19 φ
At the figure Fig.7 are shown some parts of FEM models and their stress distribution. Final aim of
the FEM analysis and experimental analysis is at the figures Fig.8 and Fig.9. The evaluation of
measured vales from experiment and comparison with results of FEM analysis gave us resultant
M-φ curves with very good correspondence between experimental and analytical results. The given
equations allow us to perform non linear analysis with engineer frame model as is recommended in

3.2 Joint for space dome with glued-in rods

The models of joint steel body use elements SHELL181. The stresses in steel itself without the
complex behavior of members is shown at figure Fig.10
The evaluation of experiments is still in progress. The three-dimensional system offers very
complex semi rigidity and also non-linear
behavior. The designed joint itself shows good
performance, no big yielding and acceptable
deformations. Evaluation of M-φ curves with
respect to bending moments in two directions
is under progress.

Fig.10 Von Misses stress distribution in

the space steel joint

4. Conclusions
The presented results of research on semi rigid
frame with joints based on glued –in rods proved
the possibility of the realization of heavy timber
skeleton with the joint that allows assembly in-
situ. Further development of the structural system
for different sizes of timber columns and beams Fig.11 Vertical displacement at joint vs.
are prepared. The good correspondence of load of tested space segment
experiments and FEM analysis predict the
possibility of verification based mainly on the FEM analysis and will not need so many
The problem of space dome that use glued-in rods in joint is far more complex and need detail
evaluation of experimental results and also the complex solution of whole experimental specimen
and non linear analysis of space frame with semi-rigid joint. The known danger of big influence of
geometric imperfections was verified and the concept of design that transfer forces from the body
of joint through glued –in rod directly was proved to be good. The detail numerical study of the
forces between the body of joint and end s of timber bars is under progress by simple analytical and
FE solution.

5. Acknowledgements
This contribution was possible to make thanks to the financial support of Czech Research Grant VZ3
CEZ MSM 6840770003- Development of Algorithms of Computer Simulations and Their
Applications in Engineering, and to the support of the Consulting Office VSV. The research work is
based on the research grant by Czech GACR 103/05/0752 Non-linear Behavior of Timber Semi-
Rigid Frames

6. References
[1] Guan , Z. W.: Structural Behavior of Glued Bolt Joints Using FRP, WCTE 98, Vol. 1, Presses
polytechniques et universitaires romandes, Lausanne, 1998, pp.1-265, ISBN 2-88074-380-X
[2] Vašek, M., Mikeš, K.: The Metal Joints for the Space Timber Structures, the Non Linear
Behavior, 5th World Conference on Timber Engineering, pp. 822-823, Montreux, 1998
[3] Vašek, M.: Timber Semi-rigid Frame with Glued-in Rods, In: Responding to Tomorrow’s
Challenges in Structural Engineering. Budapešť, IABSE Zurich, 2006, s. 120-121.ISBN 3-
[4] Vašek, M., Vyhnálek, R.: Timber Semi Rigid Frame with Glued-in-rods Joints, In: WCTE
2006_Conference Proceedings [CD-ROM]. vol. 1, s. 275.,Portland: Portland Oregon State
University, 2006
[5] Vašek, M., Blažek, J.: Computer modeling of semi-rigid timber frame connections and
experimental verification, SEMC 2007,The third International Conference on Structural
Engineering, mechanics and Computation, Cap town, 2007, pp.645, 646+CD Mill press
Science Publishers, Rotterdam, The Netherlands, ISBN 9789059660540
[6] Lojík, O.: Vliv tuhosti styčníku na chování prostorových prutových konstrukcí ( Inluence of
rigidity of joint on the behavior of space freme systems); disertační práce (PhD thesis), FS
CVUT Praha, 2004
[7] Bodig, J., Goodman, R.: Prediction of elastic parameters of wood, pp. 241-248, Wood
Science, Vol 5, 1973
[8] Vašek M., Drdácký M., Hoblík K.: Zpráva Grantu GAČR 103/93/2027, (Research report on
grant GACR 103/93/2027), FS CVUT Praha, Pittsburgh 1996
[9] Christopher, J., Vašek, M., Bjorhovde, R.: Ocelové konstrukce s polotuhými styčníky podle
ČSN EN 1993-1-1 a ČSN EN 1993-1-8, pp.1-15 DOST, ČKAIT Praha, 2007