Wood Handbook Wood as an Engineering Material Centennial Edition
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Wood Handbook Wood as an Engineering Material Centennial Edition


Summarizes information on wood as an engineering material. Presents properties of wood and wood-based products of particular concern to the architect and engineer. Includes discussion of designing with wood and wood-based products along with some pertinent uses.

Keywords: wood structure, physical properties (wood), mechanical properties (wood), lumber, wood-based composites, plywood, panel products, design, fastenings, wood moisture, drying, gluing, fire resistance, finishing, decay, preservation, wood-based products, heat sterilization, sustainable use


This edition of the Wood Handbook—Wood as an Engineering Material builds upon past editions, in particular the 1999 version, with some important additions and modifications:

• A chapter has been added that highlights the importance of wood as an environmentally responsible, sustainable material (Chapter 1).

• Low-magnification micrographs of cross sections of commercial wood species have been added (Chapter 2).

• An extensive discussion on the microscopic structure of wood and its foundational elements are presented (Chapter 3).

• Reference to the most recent research on properties of the wood cell wall, at the nanoscale, has been included (Chapter 5).

• To address the need to find uses for wood obtained from trees killed by invasive insect species as they propagate through various regions of the United States, a chapter has been added on heat-treating and sterilization procedures for wood products (Chapter 20).

• Important updates are included on wood–moisture interactions and wood preservation practices (Chapters 4 and 15).

The Wood Handbook originally focused on construction practices that utilized solid-sawn wood. Since its first printing, the state-of-the-art in wood construction practices and the range of wood-based products available to the consumer have changed considerably.

Excellent printed reference and websites have been developed by various trade associations and wood products manufacturers that document, in detail, current design information for the ever-changing range of products available.

We have made a concerted effort to include the most current references, in addition to many historic ones, to help guide the reader to appropriate sources of information. This 2010 edition was reviewed by numerous individuals from industry, academia, and government.

Several dozen industry, university, and government colleagues reviewed various sections and chapters of this edition during various stages of revision. We gratefully acknowledge their contributions. The following individuals provided in-depth technical reviews of this edition in its entirety:

Donald Bender (Washington State University), David Green (USDA Forest Products Laboratory, retired), John Erickson (USDA Forest Products Laboratory, retired), Howard Rosen (USDA Forest Service, retired), World Nieh (USDA Forest Service), Robert White (USDA Forest Products Laboratory), and staff of the American Wood Council, American Forest & Paper Association.

We gratefully acknowledge their contributions. Although listing every technical author and contributor to the Wood Handbook would be nearly impossible— early editions did not even list individual contributors by name—we do acknowledge the authors of previous editions; they all made significant, noteworthy contributions.

Finally, we thank our many research cooperators from industry, academia, and other government agencies. By working with you we are able to continue developing the technical base for using wood, wood-based materials, and wood structural systems in a technically sound manner.

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