Useful References for the Design of Wood Structures

Here’s a selection of helpful sites and documents related to the design of structures using wood (big and small, fast and slow):

Forest Products Laboratory

An enormous trove of information from the US Dept. of Agriculture that has studied in great detail the properties, uses, and processes for working with wood. The website’s search engine is not perfect.

Of historical note, it appears to me that the work done by the FPL in the 1940’s on structural design of plywood and corrugated core paper products like cardboard formed the basis of modern analysis tools for the design of carbon- and fiberglass-laminates. I’ve seen the equations and charts like buckling stiffness coefficients and so on in my modern textbooks for composites, so it was quite a surprise to discover the same charts in FPL reports over 50 years old!

Aircraft were once designed mostly with wood. Here is a link to the Army-Navy Council report #19 (or ANC-19 for short) on the use and fabrication of wood structures, while ANC-18 provides detailed data on strength, stiffness, and structural analysis.

Handwork in Wood, by William Noyes, is a old and well-illustrated text on the common tools and techniques for building with wood.

If your project doesn’t fly, but rather should stay firmly attached to the ground, the CSA Standard CAN/CSA-O86-01, Engineering Design in Wood will help.

I invite others to make suggestions to make this list grow. I don’t work on buildings myself, so a few recommendations for ASD and LRFD designs would be appreciated.


Well, something I love about timber design – AWS puts the NDS publications out there for free! (some are view only)


Thanks for the link… I don’t often venture into conventional wood framed construction… usually for friends or helping other engineers. I’ve done half a dozen timber framed structures… and likely my favourite of all structural work.


Thanks Lomarandil,

I also like how they use Mathcad throughout their example calculations.

I also recommend the “Douglas Fir Use Book”, if you can get your hands on a copy, and the newer “Western Woods Use Book”. AITC copies have good information too.