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Chapter Nine: Timber Structures 1

Chapter Nine: Timber Structures

9.1 Introduction

Timber is an organic material produced from naturally growing trees. There are about 30,000
different species of trees and of these close to 100 different species are exploited as a proper
source of timber in Ethiopia.

As it was introduced in the first chapter, structures whose major constituent components are
timber are known as timber structures.

Timbers are used both in structural and non-structural members in various civil engineering
applications such as buildings of various types, bridges, power transmission and communication
towers, among others.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Timber

a) Advantages
- Timber is available in many countries
- Easy to handle and change in to various forms
- It has nearly same properties in compression, tension, and flexure and has high
- There is a good relation between its bearing capacity and own weight
- Good resistant against chemicals
- Nearly no length change in response to temperature variation
- Nearly no electric conductivity

b) Disadvantages
- Organic in nature which affects its quality
- No apparent control over its quality ( other materials are man made and therefore
same form of quality control at their production)
- Strength is affected by moisture
- Timber changes its volume or/and shape depending on its moisture content
- It is inflammable
- Many years has elapsed for a tree to be exploited as timber

9.2 Timber Properties

Grain Nature: Grains are not always parallel to the longitudinal direction of the timber pieces.
Thus the angle between the grain and the direction of the application of the load influences the
strength on a much wider scale.

Density and Moisture Content: Generally, Strength increases with density and decreases with
rising moisture content and hence correction to permissible stress is required

Temperature: Its effect on strength is not considered in the design of timber structures.

Defects: Knots should be considered in the design of timber as they affect the capacity.

Design of Steel and Timber Structures CENG 4408 Yirgalem D.

Chapter Nine: Timber Structures 2

Duration of loading: Duration of loading is an important factor in the design of timber

structures. Wooden beams loaded continuously for a longer period of time fail at a load to
of the load required to cause failure in a couple of minutes.

Main loading categories in duration terms are:

- Short term load ( minutes to hours, such as wind or earthquake)
- Medium term load ( hours to months, such as live loads)
- Long term Loads ( in years, such as dead loads)

Permissible stresses

Permissible stresses are obtained from large number of tests. They are given in specifications
(EBCS 5).

Corrections to permissible stresses

a) According to moisture content

- Dry condition ( indoor structures): +20%
- Moist condition (out door strictures): 0%
- Wet condition ( under water structures): -20%

b) According to loading duration

- Short term loads ( wind): +20%
- Medium term loads ( Live): 0%
- Long term loads: ( dead) -20%

c) Load correction factors

- Short term ( Dead + imposed + wind): 0.8
- Medium term (dead + temporary imposed): 1.0
- Long term ( Dead + permanent imposed): 1.25

9.3 Design of Members

The various design concepts and detailing procedures for timber are similar to those involved in
steel structures and, thus, similar computational and detailing operations are followed for their

Tension Members

Tension members are structural members that carry pure tension loads. The bottom chords of
roof and bridge trusses are c1assic examples of tension members.

The process of designing such structural members is reduced to selecting a section with
sufficient cross-sectional area to carry the design load without exceeding the allowable tensile
stress as stipulated in relevant codes of practice and proportioning connections so that all
relevant design specifications are met with regard to arrangement as well as stress limitations.

Generally, the following ASD equation should be satisfied:

f t Ft , //

Design of Steel and Timber Structures CENG 4408 Yirgalem D.

Chapter Nine: Timber Structures 3

where: T = tensile force

An = net cross sectional area
Ft,// = allowable tensile stress parallel to the grain

Note: For tension members having knots, the net area should be considered in design. Tensile
forces can apply only parallel to the grain.

Compression Members

Timbers may be used in the construction of compression members such as columns, posts, struts
or stanchions, etc.

Generally, in the design of compression members, the following ASD equations should be

- Short Column
fc Fc , // orFc ,
- Long column
fc Fc , // orFc ,
where: N = compressive force
A = cross sectional area
Ft,// = allowable compressive stress parallel or perpendicular to the grain

Note: No need of considering reduction due to holes if the holes are filled with a material at
least having the same strength as that of the main element.

Flexural Members

Flexural members are structural elements that span between or across supports carry principally
lateral loads which are resisted by flexural bending and shear. Hence, flexural members must
be checked for extreme fibre flexural stresses, shear stresses and deflection.

Generally the following ASD equations should be satisfied.

- Extreme fibre Flexural stress:

fb Fb , //
where: M = bending moment
I= moment of inertia of the cross section
c = distance of bottom or top extreme fibres from neutral axis.
Fb,// = allowable bending stress parallel to the grain

- Shear stresses:
fv Fs , //

Design of Steel and Timber Structures CENG 4408 Yirgalem D.

Chapter Nine: Timber Structures 4

where: V = shear force

I= moment of inertia of the cross section
Q = first moment about the neutral axis of the part of the cross
sectional area lying further from the neutral axis than the point where
the shear stresses are being calculated
t= width of the member where the stresses are being calculated
Fs, //= allowable shear stress parallel to the grain

For rectangular cross sections:

fv Fs , //
where: b= width of the member
d= depth of the member

- Deflection:
o General purpose beams:
o Highway bridges:
l l
o Stringer in railroad bridges: to
200 300

Combined Members

Nearly all members in a structure are subjected to both bending moment and axial force-either
tension or compression.

Generally the following ASD equations should be satisfied:

a) Members designed to resist bi-directional bending moments:

Mx My
fb Fb , //
Wx Wy
R x2 y2
b) Members designed to resist tension plus bending:
f t , // f b , //
Ft , // Fb , //
c) . Members designed to resist compression plus bending:
f c , // f b , //
Fc , // Fb , //

Design of Steel and Timber Structures CENG 4408 Yirgalem D.