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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

Crack formation, strain distribution and fracture surfaces around knots in thermally modified timber loaded in static bending

van Blokland, Joran; Olsson, Anders; Oscarsson, Jan; Daniel, Geoffrey; Adamopoulos, Stergios


The effect of thermal modification (TM) on the chemistry, anatomy and mechanical properties of wood is often investigated using small clear samples. Little is known on the effect of growth-related and processing defects, such as knots and checks, on the bending strength and stiffness of thermally modified timber (TMT). Nine boards of Norway spruce with different combinations of knot types were used to study the combined effects of checks and knots on the bending behaviour of TMT. Digital image correlation (DIC) measurements on board surfaces at sites of knots subjected to bending allowed to study strain distribution and localise cracks prior to and after TM, and to monitor development of fracture (around knots) in TMT to failure. DIC confirmed that checking in knots was increased after TM compared to kiln-dried timber, specifically for intergrown knots and intergrown parts of encased knots. Effects appear local and do not affect board bending stiffness at these sites. Bending failure in TMT initiated mainly at knot interfaces or besides knots and fractures often propagated from checks. Scanning electron microscopy analyses of fracture surfaces confirmed this, and fractures were typically initiated around knots and at knot interfaces due to crack propagation along the grain in the longitudinal-radial plane (TL fracture) under mixed mode I and II loading, such that boards failed in simple tension like unmodified timber. Images of fracture surfaces at the ultrastructural level revealed details of the brittle behaviour of TM wood. This was especially apparent from the smooth appearance of transwall failure under mode I loading across the grain.

Published in

Wood Science and Technology
2020, volume: 54, number: 4, pages: 1001-1028

Authors' information

van Blokland, Joran
Linnaeus University
Olsson, Anders
Linnaeus University
Oscarsson, Jan
Linnaeus University
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Forest Biomaterials and Technology
Adamopoulos, Stergios
Linnaeus University

UKÄ Subject classification

Wood Science

Publication Identifiers


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