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Strength properties of selected Uganda timbers

A. Zziwa*1,2, Y. N. Ziraba2 and J. A. Mwakali3


To improve the utilisation of timber in building construction and enhance the market value of Ugandan timber species, especially the lesser known, strength properties of 17 species were studied. Small clear specimen tests were conducted in bending, compression and shear parallel to grain using the standard procedures of the American Society for Testing and Materials, ISO 8905:1988, AS/NZS 2878:2000 and BS 373:1957. Results showed significant differences in strength properties of the investigated timbers. A positive relationship was found between bending strength and stiffness. It was recommended that the timbers be grouped on the basis of the variability in their strength properties.
Keywords: Timber species, Mechanical properties, Building construction

Introduction
Wood is a complex building material owing to its biological nature and existence in diverse species. The high demand for building construction timber also necessitates the use of a wide range of timber species with quality control procedures (Leicester 2002). A fundamental requirement for effective utilisation of wood as a competitive structural material is the accurate knowledge of its mechanical properties. Wood utilisation should therefore consider variation in wood properties with species, age, site and environmental conditions. With the recent boom in Ugandas construction sector coupled with over-exploitation and scarcity of well-known tree species, such as Khaya anthotheca (Mahogany) and Milicia excelsa (Mvule), there is a shift from traditional to lesser known timber species (Zziwa et al. 2006a), yet little is documented about their strength data (Zziwa et al. 2006b). Key indicators of wood strength such as stiffness have not been explored in Uganda. Density is still being used as a strength indicator although it has been reported as a poor indicator of strength by Tsehaye et al. (2000). A study on timber use practices in Uganda revealed that there were 48 timber species on the market (Zziwa et al. 2009). The mechanical properties of most of these timbers are not known, yet appropriate use of timber for structural purposes requires that the mechanical properties of the timber be suited to the application. Kretschmann and Green (1999) noted that lack of better timber grading procedures and adequate test data in developing countries, such as Uganda, makes it likely that strength property assignments for timbers are not

very meaningful and are at most times dangerous and wasteful. This, coupled with an increasing demand for durable building timber, highlights the need for efcient procedures of assessing timber properties. The structural application of timber, which is an anisotropic material, requires prior knowledge of a combination of properties, namely, bending strength as measured by modulus of rupture (MOR), stiffness as measured by the modulus of elasticity (MOE), compressive stress parallel to the grain and shear strength parallel to grain. The most important properties are MOE and MOR, since MOE is a measure of elastic properties of wood whereas MOR is a measure of the load carrying capacity of a wooden member (Teosto and Seralde 2003). Stiffness is increasingly considered a better strength indicator, as it often governs design of timber structures in which deection is important (Kliger 2000; Hansen et al. 2004; Divos and Tanaka 2005). Modulus of rupture and MOE are commonly used in different standards such as AS/NZS 2878:2000 (Standards Australia 2000) as a basis for classifying timbers. The specic objective of this study was to determine density and strength properties of selected timber species.

Materials and methods


Research design
Timber species for investigation were obtained in a survey conducted in building construction companies, furniture workshops, National Forestry Authority Wood Utilisation Division and timber yards in Kampala. The study was conducted in phases: in the rst phase, 17 commonly used timber species were tested to establish basic density and strength properties. The reasons for studying 17 were: commonly used but rare species such as Milicia excelsa and Cupressus lusitanica were not tested, and the commonly traded African mahogany (Khaya species) was the one tested. Pairwise

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Department of Forest Products Engineering, Faculty of Forestry and Nature Conservation Department of Civil Engineering, Faculty of Technology, Makerere University, PO box 7062, Kampala, Uganda *Corresponding author, email zziwa@forest.mak.ac.ug

2010 IWSc, the Wood Technology Society of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining Received 2 September 2009; accepted 26 May 2010 DOI 10.1179/002032010X12759166444887 International Wood Products Journal

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1 Specimens undergoing air seasoning in wood science laboratory

ranking complimented by review of literature on timbers of Uganda and basic research on strength properties of timber, were used to select the species for study. From the test results, means and lower fth percentile MOE and MOR values were determined. Since the study was directed towards properties of timbers used for building construction, a case study phenomenological methodology was adopted (Tindiwensi 2006). Sample materials were obtained from timber yards in Kampala because it is a centre with diverse construction activities and hence has a variety of timbers. It was assumed that the timbers from the yards would be representative of typical construction timbers. To avoid misrepresentation of timber species, small portions measuring 506506150 mm were planed, varnished and used for species identication at Makerere University Faculty of Forestry and Nature Conservation. As a check on the condition and harvesting age of the trees, eld visits were also made to some sources of timber, namely, Nyabyeya College sawmill in Masindi district, private saw millers and companies such as Makunda Enterprises Limited in Mukono district and Mukasa Edward of Mpigi district. In addition, extra care was taken to ensure consistency of species local/ trade names with scientic names during sample collection. There are several known sources of variation in properties of timber such as age differences, species differences and growth conditions; however, differences between species and individual trees are generally of greater signicance than the within tree differences (Bowyer et al. 2003). Therefore, systematic sampling was used to obtain ve timber boards of nominal dimensions 7565062300 mm from each of the main timber markets in the suburbs of Kampala city, namely, Ndeeba, Bwaise and Kireka. A nominal size of 7565062300 mm was selected to accommodate the rigorous stepwise sample preparation procedures in the wood machining workshop. The smaller the sample size, the greater the variability in results, thus the need for a reasonable number of samples to give realistic characteristic values while minimising costs (Mead et al. 2003; Stern et al. 2004). Forty test specimens were prepared per property per timber species with a minimum of 30 clear test specimen results required per property (AS/NZS 2878:2000, Standards Australia 2000).

Sample preparation and testing for density and mechanical properties apart from shear tests were in accordance with Standard Methods of Testing Small Clear Specimens of Timber (ASTM 1999); ASTM D 143-94 (ASTM 2000); BS 373:1957 (British Standards Institution 1957) and ISO 3133 (1975b). Shear test specimen preparation and testing were in accordance with ISO 8905:1988 (ISO 1988). All specimens were air dried to 123% moisture content before testing (Fig. 1). Strength property tests on small clear specimens (SCS) were carried out at Makerere University Faculty of Technology Structures Laboratory with relative humidity of 653% and temperatures of 203uC. Rupture surfaces of the tested specimens were examined to ensure that failure was not due to internally hidden defects; and test results from specimens with failure modes due to hidden defects were rejected.

Mechanical properties
Modulus of elasticity and MOR were determined in a static bending test on SCS of 300620620 mm using a Testometric AX M500 25 kN universal testing machine (UTM) at a loading rate of 6?6 mm min21 (Dinwoodie 1981). Specimens were loaded to failure in three-point loading over a span of 280 mm, the load at elastic limit Pe and the corresponding deections d were recorded and used for computation of MOE E in N mm22 using equation (1) E ~aK (1)

where a is a specimen geometric parameter given by L3/ 4b d3534?3 [where L5280 mm, b is breadth (20 mm) and d is depth (20 mm)] and K is the slope of the elastic portion of the load versus deection graph. The load Pe at elastic limit was recorded and used for computation of MOR sb in N mm22 using equation (2) sb ~bPe (2)

where b is a specimen geometric parameter given by b53L/2bd250?0525 (L, b and d as dened and specied in equation (1) above). Compression parallel to grain tests on SCS of 60620620 mm were carried out using a UTM at a rate of 0?6 mm min21 (Dinwoodie 1981). The maximum load Pmax was recorded and the maximum compressive stress parallel to the grain sc in N mm22 was calculated using equation (3)

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2 Shear strength test piece (source: ISO 8905:1988)

3 Specimens under oven drying

Pmax (3) bd where b5d520 mm. Determination of the ultimate shear strength parallel to grain involved measuring the maximum shear load Fmax for SCS (Fig. 2) using a UTM at a loading rate of 1?26 mm min21 and the shear stress t was calculated using equation (4) sc ~ Fmax (4) tl where t is the thickness of the test piece (50 mm) and l is the length of the shearing plane (40 mm) t~

weighed immediately after testing to obtain their weight Wt and then oven dried (Fig. 3) at a temperature of 1032uC to constant weight to obtain the oven-dry weight Wd. The moisture content MC of each test specimen was calculated using equation (6)   Wt {Wd |100% (6) MC ~ Wd Since specimens were seasoned to 123%MC, all stresses were adjusted to P12%, their 12%MC equivalents, using equation (7) P12% ~P1zZn (7)

Physical properties
Basic density
Basic density was obtained using green volume and oven-dry weight of 20620615 mm specimens, which were soaked in distilled water till they sunk and attained green volume (Lavers 1993). The green volume was measured using the displacement method in accordance with Archimedes principle. The specimens were then oven dried at a temperature of 1032uC to constant weight, reweighed and the basic density r in kg m23 per specimen was calculated using equation (5) r~ Wd |1000 Vg (5)

where Z is the correction factor for moisture content, representing a change in strength value per percentage change in MC from the equilibrium moisture content (Table 1), n is MC of specimen at the time of test 212 and P is the stress at time of test.

Data analysis
Normal distribution curves were plotted and used to eliminate outliers in the MOR and MOE values for each

where Wd is the oven-dry weight and Vg is the green volume.

Moisture content
Moisture content was determined in accordance with ISO 3133:1975 (ISO 1975a); where all test specimens were
Table 1 Correction factors for moisture (Ishengoma and Nagoda 1991) Property Static bending strength Compression parallel to the grain Cleavage Shear parallel to the grain MOR MOE content Z values 0.04 0.02 0.03 0.05 0.03 Z

4 Normal distribution curve for MOE data of Piptadeniastrum africana

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on sample size, x is the mean stress, SCS0?05 is the fth percentile strength and S is standard deviation.

Allowable stresses
Test results based on small clear specimens can be used to derive the allowable timber properties (Green and Shelley 2006). Hence the allowable stresses SCSbasic were obtained by dividing the fth percentile value SCS0?05 by a cautious reduction factor F52?65 for tropical timbers, which incorporates allowances for specimen size, rate of loading and safety considerations (Mettem 1986) using equation (9) SCSbasic ~ SCS0:05 F (9)

Results
5 Normal distribution curve for MOR data of Aningeria altissima

Means and fifth percentile strength values


Table 2 below shows means and standard deviations of basic density and strength properties of the investigated species. The gures in parentheses are the standard deviations. T-test checks showed signicant differences (P,0?05) in strength properties and density of the investigated species. Table 3 shows the lower fth percentile strength properties of the investigated timber species.

of the investigated species. Figures 4 and 5 are just for illustration purposes. Density and strength data (r, t, sb, sc and E) were then analysed using Minitab software to get the mean and standard deviation; and t-tests were carried out to compare mean strengths of tested timbers. The averages were subjected to correlation analysis using MS Excel package and correlation coefcients for all pairs of variables (MOE, MOR and density) obtained. The relationship between MOE and MOR for the timbers was determined from linear regression analysis.

Analysing relationships
Figures 6 and 7 show the degrees of correlation between density and static bending strengths (MOE and MOR). In the linear regression equations, r refers to density. Figure 8 shows the degree of correlation between MOE and MOR.

Fifth percentile stress


The minimum stresses were computed as the fth percentile minimum value from equation (8) SCS0:05 ~x - {Sta SCS (8)

Allowable design stresses


Table 4 shows the design stresses derived from the fth percentile values using equation (10). Mettem (1986) recommended a basic tensile stress of 60% of the MOR for both softwood and hardwood tropical timbers. Thus, the column for tensile strength sT was derived

where ta is the t value at 95% condence level dependent

Table 2 Mean strength and basic density for investigated timbers* Species name Local/trade name Mugavu White Nongo Nkuzanyana Lufugo Kalitunsi Nkoba Musizi Namagulu Pine Mukooge Ugandan Mahogany Nsambya Mpewere Nkago Enkalati Red Nongo Mukusu Compression parallel to grain, N mm22 35.11 38.62 35.43 41.55 29.69 36.36 26.94 34.0 26.33 58.45 35.57 31.74 39.47 20.16 28.07 40.11 25.90 (7.22) (7.50) (9.93) (8.52) (7.94) (7.94) (7.04) (7.90) (5.53) (7.22) (7.33) (5.59) (6.06) (4.797) (9.65) (10.73) (5.70) Shear parallel to grain, N mm22 9.82 7.20 11.79 13.02 8.18 12.06 7.79 8.42 9.67 9.445 7.37 7.534 { 7.33 8.5 8.27 8.814 (1.46) (2.35) (2.59) (2.56) (2.98) (2.42) (1.19) (1.13) (1.14) (1.78) (1.123) (0.873) (2.444) (1.78) (2.17) (1.231) Basic density, kg m23 567 480 536 569 526 514 407 558 383 595 481 427 467 322 402 410 475 (58) (67) (29) (23) (34) (32) (17) (43) (15) (28) (9) (27) (26) (23) (20) (29) (42)

Scientific name Albizia coriaria Albizia zygia Blighia unijugata Celtis mildbraedii Eucalyptus grandis Lovoa brownii Maesopsis eminii Uapaca guineensis Pinus caribaea Morus lactea Khaya anthotheca Markhamia lutea Piptadeniastrum africanum Funtumia elastica Aningeria altissima Albizia gummifera Entandrophragma angolense

MOR, N mm22 45.8 54.5 48.5 77.1 33.9 46.2 27.9 61.2 26.9 77.3 50.3 43.9 48.7 23.8 38.1 43.7 34.6 (13.4) (9.39) (8.86) (11.18) (14.36) (12.78) (7.83) (10.59) (6.32) (11.49) (9.04) (5.36) (7.54) (6.55) (6.04) (11.47) (5.9)

MOE, N mm22 5760 8124 9754 13 230 8207 9065 8569 9320 7810 13 440 9388 7970 10 702 5612 6161 9496 7482 (1403) (1572) (1528) (1219) (1567) (1821) (1110) (1835) (1343) (1516) (1733) (1276) (715) (1044) (1373) (1291) (1093)

*All values quoted at 12% moisture content. The figures in brackets are standard deviations of the mean strength values. {Load capacity of UTM exceeded, so no datum was captured.

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6 Correlations between MOR and density

8 Correlation between MOE versus MOR

7 Correlation between MOE and density

using equation (10) sT ~0:6sb (10)

Discussion
The mean and minimum stiffness of the investigated timber species and the allowable bending stresses were comparable to those of strength classes C14 to C40 and TR 26 for softwoods and D30 to D70 for hardwoods (BS 5268-2:1996, British Standards Institution 1996). For instance, the allowable bending stress of Pine was 5?3 N mm22 which puts it in strength class C16. This nding has shown that the investigated timber species
Table 3 Fifth percentile strength values* Species Scientific name A. coriaria A. zygia B. unijugata C. mildbraedii E. grandis L. brownii M. eminii U. guineensis P. caribaea M. lactea K. anthotheca M. lutea P. africanum F. elastica A. altissima A. gummifera E. angolense Local name Mugavu White Nongo Nkuzanyana Lufugo Kalitunsi Nkoba Musizi Namagulu Pine Mukooge Ugandan Mahogany Nsambya Mpewere Nkago Enkalati Red Nongo Mukusu MOR, N mm22 18 35 30 48 29 20 12 39 14 54 32 33 33 10 25 20 22

are suitable for various structural applications. Results further showed that MOE values of the investigated tropical timbers were generally lower than those of temperate species listed in BS 5268-2:1996 (British Standards Institution 1996). As noted by Dunham et al. (1999), fast growing trees have lower fth percentile strength which is only 55% of that for the slowest growing trees. Hence the observed low values could probably be due to differences in rates of growth between tropical tree species and temperate tree species. T-test checks also showed signicant differences (P,0?05) in strength properties and densities among investigated timbers. This was in line with Mahonge (2007) who also observed signicant variations in strength properties among timbers. In addition, the ranges in strength properties among timber species were also high, necessitating timber species classication. This implied that some timber species were being undervalued and underutilised due to lack of appropriate strength data (Zziwa et al. 2006a). These ndings supported the argument that in an attempt to ensure quality control, the timbers should be grouped on the basis of the uniformity in strength results and used for similar structural applications (Zziwa et al. 2006b). For instance, timbers species with MOR equal to or greater than 16 N mm22, could be used for high load bearing

MOE, N mm22 2772 4886 6652 10 707 4979 5259 6249 5522 5070 10 317 5853 5067 9229 3482 3360 6824 5230

Compression parallel to grain, N mm22 20.4 23.3 15.2 24.2 13.5 20.2 12.6 17.9 15.0 43.7 20.6 20.3 27.1 10.4 8.4 18.2 14.3

Shear parallel to grain, N mm22 6.8 2.4 6.5 7.8 2.1 7.1 5.4 6.1 7.5 5.8 5.1 5.8 { 2.3 4.9 3.8 6.3

*All values were adjusted to their 12% moisture content equivalents. {Load capacity of UTM exceeded, so no datum was captured.

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Table 4 Design stresses, density and moduli of elasticity for investigated timbers* Species names Design stresses Tension parallel to grain, N mm22 4.1 8.0 6.9 10.9 6.5 4.6 2.7 8.8 3.2 12.2 7.2 7.4 7.6 2.3 5.8 4.6 5.1 Compression parallel to grain, N mm22 7.7 8.8 5.7 9.1 5.1 7.6 4.8 6.8 5.7 16.5 7.8 7.7 10.2 3.9 3.2 6.9 5.4 MOE Density

Scientific name Local/trade name A. coriaria A. zygia B. unijugata C. mildbraedii E. grandis L. brownie M. eminii U. guineensis P. caribaea M. lactea K. anthotheca M. lutea P. africanum F. elastica A. alt sima A. gummifera E. angolense Mugavu White Nongo Mukuzanyana Lufugo Kalitunsi Nkoba Musizi Namagulu Pine Mukooge Ugandan Mahogany Nsambya Mpewere Nkago Enkalati Red Nongo Mukusu

MOR, N mm22 6.9 13.3 11.5 18.2 10.8 7.6 4.5 14.7 5.3 20.3 12.0 12.4 12.6 3.9 9.6 7.7 8.5

Shear Parallel Minimum, Mean, to grain, Minimum, Mean, N mm22 kg m23 kg m23 N mm22 N mm22 2.6 0.9 2.5 2.9 0.8 2.7 2.0 2.3 2.8 2.2 1.9 2.2 { 0.9 1.8 1.4 2.4 2772 4886 6652 10 707 4979 5259 6249 5522 5070 10 317 5853 5067 9229 3482 3360 6824 5230 5760 8124 9754 13 230 8207 9065 8569 9320 7810 13 440 9388 7970 10 702 5612 6161 9496 7482 449 343 477 523 458 449 373 470 353 538 463 372 414 275 362 350 389 567 480 536 569 526 514 407 558 383 595 481 427 467 322 402 410 475

*All values quoted at 12% moisture content. {Load capacity of UTM exceeded, so no datum was captured.

timber members whereas those with MOR equal to or less than 4 N mm22 could be used for relatively low load bearing members. The scatter plot showing the relationship between MOE and density for the investigated timbers (Fig. 7) showed a weak correlation (r50?58) between MOE and density. Results reinforced the argument that density is not a sole predictor of MOE and should not be used alone to predict timber strength (Tsehaye et al. 2000). This concurred with Walker and Buttereld (1996) who concluded that density was a poor indicator of stiffness as a result of poor correlations between MOE and density. A scatter plot showing the relationship between MOE and MOR showed that MOE and MOR were sufciently correlated (R50?78) to suggest strength grading of timber species based on their MOE and MOR. The regression equations (see Figs. 68) representing the relationships between density and MOE, density and MOR, and between MOE and MOR, had negative Yintercepts. The negative intercepts indicated that there are other factors apart from density, which inuence wood strength. This is in line with Mahonge (2007) who also noted other factors reducing strength of wood such as extractives, which can lower the cohesion between bres and the grain angle (Ishengoma and Gillah 1992). In addition, Piazza and Riggio (2008) noted that at the macroscopic level, mechanical properties are affected by invisible defects such as knots, and reaction wood. Nonetheless, the observed strong relationships between MOE and MOR justied the statement by Tsehaye et al. (1995) that MOE is increasingly considered to be a more reliable indicator of wood strength.

2. The diversity in strength properties of the 17 investigated timbers indicated that the timbers can be allocated to different strength classes. 3. The study further proved that MOR and MOE are more important than density in predicting timber strength quality.

Recommendations
1. There is need to undertake a comprehensive research aimed at allocating the investigated timbers into appropriate strength classes with MOR and MOE as the key factors. 2. There is need to sensitise timber dealers and users in Uganda of the varying strength properties of the timbers on market so that their prices reflect their inherent properties.

Acknowledgements
This study was funded by CARNEGIE programme through Makerere University Graduate School. The Faculty of Technology and Faculty of Forestry and Nature conservation, Makerere University, are acknowledged for facilitating the experimental work. The constructive criticism and valuable contributions made by anonymous reviewers is gratefully acknowledged.

References
ASTM. 1999. Annual book of standards. Vol. 04.10. Wood. West Conshohocken, PA, USA: ASTM. ASTM. 2000. Standard test methods for small clear specimens of timber. ASTM D 143-94. West Conshohocken, PA, USA: ASTM. Bowyer, J. L., Shmulsky, R. and Haygreen, J. G. 2003. Forest products and wood science: an introduction. 4th edition. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. British Standards Institution. 1957. Method of testing small clear specimens of timber. BS 373:1957. Milton Keynes, UK: British Standards Institution.

Conclusions
The following conclusions were made from the study. 1. The strength properties of 17 studied timber species, namely, MOE, MOR, tension parallel to grain, compression parallel to grain, shear parallel to grain and basic density were significantly different.

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