Research students investigate timber quality

Forest Research support further work in this area while at the same time encouraging new scientists of the future

News from Forest Research: June 2012

Timber spar being testedTimber quality is an issue of considerable commercial importance to the construction sector. Building on a well-established history of timber quality research and expertise, Forest Research has recently taken the opportunity to support further work in this area while at the same time encouraging new scientists of the future.

Greg Searles, a student at Edinburgh Napier University’s Forest Products Research Institute (FPRI) has been awarded a PhD on ‘Acoustic segregation and structural timber production’. This work, funded by the Scottish Forestry Trust, investigated ways of increasing yields of Sitka spruce structural timber through the segregation of raw material by acoustic techniques and the implementation of alternative sawmill cutting patterns.

Tom Drewett started working with Forest Research as part of his Masters degree, assessing the growth and timber quality of Douglas fir. Now, with additional funding from the Forestry Commission, and as part of an ongoing partnership with Forest Research, his work has been extended into a PhD. While originally focusing his research on stands growing in Scotland, Tom will now be widening his work to include two forest sites in Wales. He will be comparing the timber properties of Douglas fir from these different locations with data from samples from the south-west of England gathered in a project at the University of Bath. By comparing timber from forests across the length and breadth of the country, Tom will investigate if climatic conditions, such as accumulated temperature and moisture deficit, have a discernable impact on the wood properties and growth of Douglas fir.

James Ramsay is investigating the timber quality of larch in a PhD project funded by FPRI, Forestry Commission Scotland and Forest Research. His research evaluating the timber quality of plantation larch aims to help improve the use of this widely used, and commercially important, species. One focus of this work will be the dimensional stability of sawn larch timber during the drying process, a known limitation with this species.

Both James and Tom are expected to complete their research by the end of 2012. FPRI Assistant Director Alastair Stupart commented “The level of external support for these three pieces of research has been tremendous, and we are grateful for the assistance and involvement of the sawmilling industry. We look forward to the research being completed and the results and significance being disseminated widely in the research and forest industry communities”.

For more detail on any of these projects contact Elspeth Macdonald.

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This and other news stories can be found in the Summer 2012 issue of FR News, our online newsletter.