Wood Tornado Shelter Provides Safe, Affordable Storm Protection

USDA Forest Service researchers have developed a tornado shelter made of wood that provides powerful protection at an affordable cost.

With safety and security in mind, Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) engineers designed the residential tornado shelter to resist the high wind pressure and debris impacts generated by high-wind events.

Most importantly, the wood shelters can be built into an existing home using readily available materials and tools.

A F3 tornado sets down in a field. Image credit: Clint Spencer via iStock
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Mass Timber University Grant Program Initiated by U.S. Endowment and USDA Forest Service

The following is a press release from the U.S Endowment for Forestry and Communities.

The U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities (Endowment), in partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Forest Service (USFS), today announced the initiation of the Mass Timber University Grant Program (Grant Program) and related Request for Proposals (RFP) to promote the construction of mass timber buildings on institutions of higher learning campuses across the U.S. The intent of the Grant Program is to inspire interest in and support for mass timber products among the architectural, developer and building communities as well as the public, by showcasing them in highly-visible projects on university campuses.  

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Hot New Video! Full-Scale CLT Fire Testing Yields Impressive Results

Trust us, you’re going to want to see this.

Forest Products Laboratory researchers conducted fire testing on a two-story cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure. Watch the short video below to see these one-bedroom apartments go up in flames, and to find out how CLT performed in the heat of the moment.

You can read more specifics about the tests in this previous LabNotes blog post, or if you’re really into the details and data, check out the full FPL general technical report.

Step by Step: Developing Design Standards for Hardwood Stairways

More than 1,500 wood samples are currently being evaluated at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) as part of an experiment that is helping researchers gain insight into the structural capabilities of various domestic hardwoods.

Hybrid hardwood, glass, and steel staircase in a commercial building.

In collaboration with Mississippi State University and Stairbuilders and Manufacturers Association, engineers at the Lab are developing structural design standards for use in residential stairway and guard construction.

The project aims to survey the strength and stiffness of species such as red oak, white oak, Southern Pine, hard maple, and yellow poplar from nearly all regions of the United States.  Engineers and builders typically use these species solely for aesthetic purposes, but researchers believe testing their strength will lead to greater economic value and opportunity in the domestic wood construction industry. Ultimately, this will also contribute to a thriving job market, and allow forests and stewardship to thrive on both private and public lands.

Laminated hardwood curved staircase that incorporates a large variety of species for architectural effect.

Though the project began in 2017, engineers are still busy testing the species’ mechanical properties against current ASTM standards.  Final testing and result analysis will conclude in 2020. To learn more about this study, read the full Research in Progress report.

Blog post by Francesca Yracheta

New Videos of Blast Tests Available

New video footage has been released of blast testing performed on cross laminated timber (CLT) structures, and it’s quite a sight to see.

The Forest Products Laboratory, in cooperation with WoodWorks and the Softwood Lumber Board, led a second round of live blast testing in 2017 at Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Florida.

The charges in the videos were large enough to potentially cause lethal injury, and the structures survived. The objective of these studies was to demonstrate the capability of CLT structures to resist airblast loads, thereby allowing the military to incorporate mass timber materials like CLT into their construction projects.

You can read more about the study here, and see all the blast test videos on the WoodWorks YouTube channel.