Species / Strength

The Datasheets below cover timber species normally used by pallet and packaging manufacturers in Europe. The current shortage of some species traditionally used by manufacturers has meant importation into the UK of hitherto little used wood species, which accounts for some non-traditional species listed below. Data exists on timbers from South America, South Africa and the traditional suppliers in Europe, Baltic, Russia, and Canada/USA.

Strength testing of timber specimen

The strength of timber varies according to its rate of growth, density, spring to summerwood ratio, slope of grain, knots and moisture content. Information on species on this webpage may list timber strength at two moisture contents. These two moisture contents relate to the weakest strength condition (fresh cut 'green') and also the strength condition at a moisture content (mc) more typical of pallets and boxes after a week or two in dry use of 18 to 20% mc.

A main concern to pallet and box designers is timber bending strength, since bending is primarily what limits payloads. This is measured using the ISO standard thickness of 20mm so the tests have relevance to packaging users where this is a common thickness. There is no safety factor included, so the results are well suited for direct comparisons between species. 

For individual species with mechanical and physical data such as strength, stiffness, ease of drying, shrinkage, acidity, etc. obtain BS 1133 Section 8 from the online BSI shop.

The units for comparison between species are industry standard units of N/mm². The North American test method for determination of ultimate strength in static bending uses a 2 inch standard for tests and most data from the USA is given as 2 inch standard results. Testing has shown that for an accurate comparison between North American and European values a constant is needed for the conversion from the 2 inch to the 20mm size.

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PDF65j Timber Strength Grading c 2011 (PDF 957kb)
PDF71c Botanical names of softwoods and hardwoods. (PDF 67kb)
PDF71d Imported wood species suitable for packaging. (PDF 141kb)
PDF71h Baltic hardwoods and softwoods in pallets. (PDF 11kb)
PDF71p Properties of timbers Elliotis pine. (PDF 117kb)
PDF71s Properties of timbers Parana pine. (PDF 204kb)
PDF79b Bending strength properties of softwoods. (PDF 32kb)
PDF79d Timber hardness and compression strength for species. (PDF 110kb)
PDF79g The Nominal Specific Gravity (NSG) of wood packaging species. (PDF 29kb)
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