Timber Pole Construction

Forest thinnings, which are too small to be converted into rectangular standard sections for construction, have the potential to be used directly for certain low-technology forms of building. Currently much of this material is used for paper and particleboard production or burnt as firewood.

The advantage of this material is that is a renewable resource with a relatively short production cycle and rapid carbon dioxide sequestration. Timber poles are naturally tapered, but the effects on mechanical properties of defects such as knots and sloping grain, which are significant in converted timber, are virtually eliminated. Also, as little machining is required energy and labour costs are low.

Forest thinnings up to 200 mm in diameter are generally available, but typical small-scale construction usually requires poles in the 50 mm to 150 mm range, with lengths of between 3 m and 15 m. Figure 4.16 illustrates an experimental building at Hooke Park using Norway spruce timber pole construction.

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