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Properties of Wood


Properties of Wood

Number: BCT 304
Credits: 3
Format: In person, Amherst

Semester: Fall
Meeting Times: Tue/Thu 1:00-2:15
Room: Olver Design Building 162

LMS Link


Alexander Schreyer,
M.A.Sc., Dipl.-Ing.

Senior Lecturer and BCT Program Director

Office: Olver Design Building 318
Phone: +1 (413) 545-1976
Email: schreyer@umass.edu

Office Hours | Faculty Page | LinkedIn

Course Description

Wood is an amazing building material: It is beautiful and warm to the touch. It is easy to machine and abundantly available. It is light, yet strong and stiff. And best of all: It comes from a renewable source. To build with wood, however, requires understanding its peculiarities: the variability of its properties, its interaction with water and the possibility of bio-deterioration.

This course introduces students to the physical and mechanical properties of wood. It provides an overview of wood-based products and exposes students to structural systems in wood. Basic techniques for physical measurement and mechanical testing are introduced by conducting and analyzing several laboratory experiments.

Section 01 is for BCT majors only, section 02 is available for any student. Graduate students should enroll in BCT 597W.

Learning Goals

  • Appreciation for the qualities of wood as a building material through evaluation of its properties, manufacturing techniques and aesthetic appeal
  • Awareness of properties that affect the performance of wood. In particular, understanding of the wood-moisture relationship
  • Understanding of typical and potential applications of wood
  • Awareness of structural systems for wood and methods to plan and manufacture these
  • Understanding of wood-based products used in construction, their manufacture, properties and peculiarities
  • Awareness of importance of experimental verification of material properties
  • Introduction into structural testing equipment, wood drying, and laboratory measurements


  • Forest Products Society, “Wood Handbook – Wood as an Engineering Material“. The 2010 (“centennial”) edition is required – don’t get any older editions. You can get it from:
    • Online version of textbook. You have free full-text access to it via this link: View and download (PDF version). Please Note: This book is an excellent low-cost reference on wood. I strongly encourage you to get a printed copy for your reference library as well.
    • You can purchase a printed version of the book through UMass Course Materials ($28). ISBN-10: 1484859707
    • reference copy will be available in the UMass library.
  • You will need a 15x or 20x loupe for inspection of wood samples.These are very inexpensive and you can get one from UMass Course Materials.

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