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    Author(s): David E. Kretschmann; David W. Green
    Date: 1999
    Source: Wood handbook : wood as an engineering material. Madison, WI : USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, 1999. General technical report FPL ; GTR-113: Pages 6.1-6.14
    Publication Series: General Technical Report (GTR)
    Station: Forest Products Laboratory
    PDF: Download Publication  (332 KB)


    Lumber sawn from a log, regardless of species and size, is quite variable in mechanical properties. Pieces may differ in strength by several hundred percent. For simplicity and economy in use, pieces of lumber of similar mechanical properties are placed in categories called stress grades, which are characterized by (a) one or more sorting criteria, (b) a set of properties for engineering design, and (c) a unique grade name. This chapter briefly discusses the U.S. Department of Commerce American Softwood Lumber Standard PS20 (1994) sorting criteria for two stress- grading methods, and the philosophy of how properties for engineering design are derived. The derived properties are then used in one of two design formats: (a) the load and resistance factor design (LRFD), which is based on a reference strength at the 5th percentile 5-min bending stress (AF&PA 1996), or (b) the allowable stress design (ASD), which is based on a design stress at the lower 5th percentile 10-year bending stress. The properties depend on the particular sorting criteria and on additional factors that are independent of the sorting criteria. Design properties are lower than the average properties of clear, straight-grained wood tabulated in Chapter 4. From one to six design properties are associated with a stress grade: bending modulus of elasticity for an edgewise loading orientation and stress in tension and compression parallel to the grain, stress in compression perpendicular to the grain, stress in shear parallel to the grain, and extreme fiber stress in bending. As is true of the properties of any structural material, the allowable engineering design properties must be either inferred or measured nondestructively. In wood, the properties are inferred through visual grading criteria, nondestructive measurement such as flatwise bending stiffness or density, or a combination of these properties. These nondestructive tests provide both a sorting criterion and a means of calculating appropriate mechanical properties. The philosophies contained in this chapter are used by a number of organizations to develop visual and machine stress grades. References are made to exact procedures and the resulting design stresses, but these are not presented in detail.

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    Kretschmann, David E.; Green, David W. 1999. Lumber stress grades and design properties. Wood handbook : wood as an engineering material. Madison, WI : USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, 1999. General technical report FPL ; GTR-113: Pages 6.1-6.14


    Lumber, log grade, design, mechanical properties, wood anatomy, structure, sorting, warping

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