STRESS TESTING RESEARCH
While the properties of European timbers had been tested for centuries, the
strength of native timbers was not scientifically tested until the late 1880s, when
investigations began at the University of Sydney and has continued over many
In the late 1930s, extensive testing allowed the Forests Department of
Western Australia and the Council for Scientific Research (what would one day
become the CSIRO) to develop a system to classify the strength of more common
Australian and imported timbers.
During this time and throughout the 20th century, the Forestry Commission
was pivotal in new developments in timber and understanding of timber
properties. The Division of Wood Technology was set up in 1935 and pioneered
timber stress-grading technology which was then introduced to the rest of the
world. The machine developed was ahead of its time as others in the industry
were still relying on visual grading. So advanced were these efforts that the
Commission held patents on the technology.
It was these early understandings of timber properties which paved the way
for the extensive use of timber today and the expansion of timber based products
into greater structural situations like multi-storey buildings.
TOP RIGHT: The wood testing facility pioneered new developments in timber use. Pictured
here is a lathe making veneer. When the veneer sheet comes off the lathe it is then wound on
spools, or led to a multi-tray system to store the veneer product as it is produced.
RIGHT: Pioneering the stress testing of timber has helped timber grow as a building product.