Defects in Timber

Defects in Timber

Good timber is free from defects like dead knots, shakes and cracks. Various defects which are likely to occur in timber may be grouped into the following three:

  • Due to natural forces
  • Due to defective seasoning and conversions.
  • Due to attack by fungi and insects.

Defects in Timber due to Natural Forces

The following defects are caused by natural forces:

(a) Knots: When a tree grows, many of its branches fall and the stump of these branches in the trunk is covered. In the sawn pieces of timber the stumps of fallen branches appear as knots. Knots are dark and hard pieces. Grains are distorted in this portion.

classification of timber
Fig. 2. Knots

Figure 2 shows some varieties of knots. If the knot is intact with surrounding wood, it is called live knot. If it is not held firmly it is dead knot.

(b) Shakes: The shakes are cracks in the timber which appear due to excessive heat, frost or twisting due to wind during the growth of a tree. Depending upon the shape and the positions shakes can be classified as star shake, cup shake, ring shakes and heart shakes [Ref. Fig. 3]

Fig. 3. Shakes

(c) Wind Cracks: These are the cracks on the outside of a log due to the shrinkage of the exterior surface. They appear as shown in Fig. 4.

Fig. 4. Wind cracks

(d) Upsets: Figure 5 shows a typical upset in a timber. This type of defect is due to excessive compression in the tree when it was young. Upset is an injury by crushing. This is also known as rupture.

Fig. 5. Upset

Defects in Timber due to Defective Seasoning and Conversion

If seasoning is not uniform, the converted timber may warp and twist in various directions. Sometimes honey combining and even cracks appear. These defects are more susceptible in case of kiln seasoning.

In the process of converting timber to commercial sizes and shapes the following types of defects are likely to arise: chip marks, torn grain etc.

Defects in Timber due to Fungi and Insects Attack

Fungi are minute microscopic plant organism. They grow in wood if moisture content is more than 20°C and exposed to air. Due to fungi attack rotting of wood, takes place. Wood becomes weak and stains appear on it.

Beetles, marine borers and termites (white ants) are the insects which eat wood and weaken the timber. Some woods like teak have chemicals in their compositions and resist such attacks. Other woods are to be protected by chemical treatment.

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