Timber is probably the most versatile of materials, but it’s not always well
The grain (or fibres) in solid timber provides its strength. It has little
strength in one direction – so if you use it so that force tends to split it
along the grain, your project won’t last very long. This characteristic is the
“sleight of hand” the karate guys use to snap a piece of timber.
To improve the strength of your projects, you can use timber “on its edge” so
the wider dimension is taking any loads. You could also use a stronger timber.
For example, hardwoods are about 3 times stronger than radiata pine.
Timber is used to make other materials, such as plywood. This material is
made from layers of real wood, each laid with its grain at 90º to the other.
This means that it has grain running in both directions, so it has equal
strength both ways and immense flexibility.
Other materials made from wood fibres include fibreboard, chipboard or
particleboard. These materials have no grain direction, so they’re quite
flexible and fairly strong, but they can also snap in any direction.
Take a little time to get to
know this amazing material, your projects will improve!