Forest Service/USDA Wood Innovations Grants
Recipient Point of Contact: Daniel Hindman
Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
The purpose of this project is to advance the use of hardwoods in cross-laminated timber (CLT) by developing optimal production methods for hardwood lumber producers and CLT manufacturers. Currently, there is a misalignment between typical hardwood lumber production (i.e. sizes, grades, and moisture content) and the raw material needs of CLT manufacturers. Both Virginia Tech (VT) and West Virginia University (WVU) have studied hardwood CLT production, but approached it in fundamentally different ways. At VT, the lumber for producing hardwood CLT was manufactured and graded using the rules established by the American Lumber Standards Committee (ALSC) for structural lumber; however, no hardwood sawmills currently produce lumber to these standards. At WVU, hardwood CLTs were produced using lumber that was manufactured and graded according to the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) grading rules and dimensions such as 4/4 lumber; NHLA grading is for appearance and is not related to strength or mechanical property data. Each method has advantages and challenges. This project is novel in the demonstration of these two production methods for hardwood CLT. Hardwood lumber will be graded and processed according to both the VT and WVU methods, and hardwood CLTs will be produced, then evaluated for mechanical properties. A cost/benefit analysis will be conducted to formulate best practices for the hardwood lumber and CLT industries. Outcomes of this project include a better understanding of the required/desired characteristics of hardwood lumber intended for CLT manufacture, leading to increased hardwood utilization which supports the economies of rural communities and forest ecosystem restoration. This project is a cooperative effort between VT and WVU combining their expertise in hardwood manufacturing, lumber grading, mechanical testing and knowledge of the CLT industry.