Blast Testing Shows CLT Can Take the Heat

Here at the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL), we sometimes get a little destructive. We bend and break wood samples of all sizes, and we even shoot lumber out of a cannon at 100 miles per hour.

But explosions? That’s a bit out of our wheelhouse. Not that wood can’t handle it. Particularly when it’s used in engineered products like cross-laminated timber (CLT), which FPL researchers have studied from many angles, including fire performance, use in earthquake-prone regions, and the effects of moisture on CLT.

Recent tests of CLT structures show just how tough this material can be. A series of live blast tests were conducted at Tyndall Air Force Base by WoodWorks in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and Softwood Lumber Board.

The specifics of the tests are outlined in this great Woodworking Network article, but if you’re looking for a spoiler, the results were promising, and they “will be used to further expand the use of wood solutions for Department of Defense applications and other blast-resistant construction.”

You can view all the tests at and we posted our favorite below. While not a dramatic view of the explosion itself, this high-speed shot shows the wood panels moving with the force of the blast without being destroyed.

WoodWorks will publish the complete results in 2017.