Experimental Testing of Scarf Joints and Laminated Timber for Wooden Boatbuilding Applications

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Jean-Baptiste Souppez


Timber construction has recently seen a significant regain of interest across a range of industries, owing to contemporary concerns for sustainability. In the marine industry, historic principles of traditional wooden boatbuilding remain present, with empirical rules still common practice, as is the case for scarf joints. Moreover, laminated wood is made more attractive and efficient thanks to modern adhesives. However, with the progress made in structural analysis, these assemblies can now be refined based on scientifically informed evidence. This paper employs destructive testing to tackle two distinct cases. On the one hand, the strength of plain scarf joints as a function of their slope is evaluated. On the other hand, the effectiveness of a range of adhesives is ascertained for the purpose of laminated manufacturing. The results are compared to both solid wood and the mechanical properties assumed by modern scantling regulations, revealing significant differences. The novel research findings provide a better understanding of these fundamental timber construction principles, supporting designers and builders alike in making informed choices while promoting safer regulatory compliance and enabling the future development of structural small craft standards. Applications beyond the structural design of wooden boats are also anticipated, for instance in sustainable buildings and architecture.

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