Implications in the design of a method for visual grading and mechanical testing of hardwood structural timber for designation within the European strength classes

Guillermo Riesco Muñoz, Andrés Remacha Gete, Francisco Pedras Saavedra


The international strength class system (EN 338:2003) is based on a testing standard (EN 408:2004) that is not easy to use with hardwoods, although some of this type of timber, such as European oak (Quercus robur L.), is highly appreciated for construction purposes. This study proposes specifications for sampling design, visual grading and mechanical testing of oak wood. With this aim, 27 adult oaks were felled and sawn into pieces. A sample of quarter-sawn planks was selected, then air-dried and planed to 50x100x2,000 mm. The beams were visually graded in accordance with ten standards, and were mechanically tested, at an average wood moisture content of 21%. The Spanish visual grading standard UNE 56544:2007 was the most effective for categorizing the pieces. According to this standard, 39% of the sampled beams were suitable for structural use. The mean value of modulus of elasticity (11,702 N mm-2) and characteristic density (714 Kg m-3) enable preliminary designation of the wood in visual grade ME-2, to European strength class D40. However, the bending strength was too low for inclusion of the timber in the European strength classes. Criteria are proposed for elaborating visual grading rules for oak wood and for structural beam testing in order to allocate oak visual strength grades into strength classes.


density; grading rule; MOE; MOR; testing procedure

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DOI: 10.5424/fs/2011202-9771