Wood Properties and Uses Division





       Research activities of this division are based on study of anatomical structure of woods with special emphasis on identification of timber for rational utilization, assessment of wood quality, study of physical and mechanical properties of lesser known and plantation grown timber, classification for different end uses and development of testing methods for wood and wood products. The various activities of the division are defined as follows




  • Research activities of this Division are based on study of anatomical structure of woods with special emphasis on identification of timber for rational utilization, assessment of wood quality. 

  • study of physical and mechanical properties of lesser known and plantation grown timber.

  • Classification for different end uses and development of testing methods for wood and wood products.




       Wood is a versatile raw material and has been used by man from time immemorial. Glimpses of various virtues of our timbers are available in our ancient literature and religious text especially the Rig veda, the Upanishads and the Puranas, but the direct evidences of uses of timbers were not available till recently. Excavations carried out by the Archaeologists at Harappa and Mohanjodaro of Indus Valley Civilization, Hastinapura - a copper age civilization, Pataliputra of early historical period and other sites of ancient India have thrown a flood of light on various kinds of timbers used by the people of those civilizations. Mostly the timber used were Pine, Deodar, Rosewood, Sissoo, Teak, Sal and Ber etc. Our religious text have often laid down rather rigid instructions regarding the timbers to be used for different purposes. Strong and durable timbers have been enjoined as auspicious while the use of weak and non durable ones have been tabooed as inauspicious. However, with the changing times, the use of timber and multiple products made out of it have changed. The subject has developed as a science during first and second world war through out the world and scientific methods have been developed for rational utilisation of the timber. Thus forest products became a part and parcel of human civilisation. With advancement of His knowledge, the understanding and the use of raw material also seen many improvements. Thus forest products play an important role in the formal and informal economy of the country.


       With economic development of the country, the rate of anticipated industrial growth, literacy and urbanisation, the demand for the wood has also increased. India has a rich source of more than 1600 timber species having commercial viability. Earlier a few timbers were used for different end uses. Subsequently, a number of secondary species have also started appearing in the market. Currently, the source of timber for timber industry and other purposes is met through the plantation grown timbers and also those which are dead and fallen from the natural forests. The country is facing an acute shortage of raw material for wood based industries due to shrinkage of forest cover. The current annual production of industrial wood and fire wood in the country is about 12 million cu.m. and 40 million cu.m. as against the demand of 27.58 and 235 million cu.m. respectively. Most of the demand of wood in the country has to be met from the plantation grown timber as envisaged in the National Forest Policy, 1988. Keeping in view of the background this division is working on the anatomy of the lesser known and plantation grown timbers and also determining their strength properties for finding different end uses as the plantation grown timbers are supposed to be different, in terms of above parameters when compared with matured timbers which were coming earlier from the natural forests.


Some of the Achievements


Wood Properties:

       Timber is produced from a large number of tree species varying in their structure and strength properties. Unless knowledge is gained, which is a pre-requisite, the efficient utilisation of timber becomes questionable. In this connection, work has been done on lesser known timbers like Gironniera reticulata (churchi), Gyrocarpus jacquinii (tanaku), Mastixia arborea, Protium serratam (Syn. Bursera serrata) (murrtenga), Sterculia urens (karar), Tamaridus indica (imli). Based on the studies, different end uses have been recommended to reduce pressure on primary timbers. Similarly, strength properties of exotic species like Maesopsis eminii (musizi), Swietenia mahagoni (managony), Enterolobium contortisiliquum, Ochroma lagopus (balsa wood) have also been studied. As the emphasis is to use plantation grown timber species, the strength properties of Eucalypstus tereticornis, Eucalyptus camaldulensis (Eucalypts) , Acacia auriculaeformis (bengal jali), Morus alba (mulberry), Hevea brasiliensis (rubber wood), Dalbergia sissoo (sissoo), Acacia mangium, A. cracicarpa, Tecomella undulata and Cocos nucifera have also been studied. Based on strength properties, different end uses for structural and non structural purposes have also been worked out.




       Karnataka and adjoining states are famous for carving and turnery work of the wood. A large number of population depend on this craft for which the timber is the main source of the raw material. In Karnataka, the wood from Wrightia tinctoria which is called as Dudhi or Hale is famous for turnery work for making toys. As this raw material is becoming scarce, alternate timbers like Adina cordifolia (haldu), Alstonia scholaris (chatiyan), Grevillea robusta (silver oak), Acacia auriculaeformis, Eucalyptus tereticornis, Maesopsis eminii and sapwood of Santalum album (sandal) have been found to be suitable as substitutes for dudhi or hale. Information on the structure and properties of 40 species which can be used for carving and turnery work is also available.


Identification of Timber and Wood quality:


Timber users are often unable to choose the appropriate species for meeting their end uses. Due to lack of knowledge, often the common man or various user agencies come across the supply of inferior quality timber or other than recommended one because of some external resemblances or otherwise. This Institute has been rendering a great service to various user agencies. The timber identification has always been a service in great demand from users in Industry, Government departments, Police, Vigilance, CBI department, Defense, Railways, Construction Industry and others.



      The basis of timber identification is by study of its anatomical structure, which varies from species to species like finger prints of a hand. Unless the identification is done, the authenticity of the prescribed species becomes questionable as different properties of the timber ultimately depend of its anatomical structure. Besides the above, study helps in cases of dispute over the ownership of the land, also in forensic science, archaeology, tree improvement, dendro- chronology, dendro-climatology. The wood anatomy of number of Indian species have been worked out and recently brought out a book on Anatomy of Andaman Timbers. Contributions also include differences between European and Indian hornbeam, Duabanga and Terminalia myriocarpa; assessment of wood quality of Eucalyptus tereticornis clones for paper and pulp and sandalwood, their adulterants and identification based on anatomy.



       The division has got a collection of more than 3,500 authentic wood samples collected from different countries as well as Indian. It has also a rich collection of microscopic slides for research purposes.




Current Research


  • Study of anatomy of lesser known timbers

  • Study of anatomy of plantation grown timbers and bamboos for the assessment of wood quality for tree improvement.

  • Study of physical and mechanical properties of plantation grown timber species and bamboos.

  • Computer assisted wood identification and calculating wood properties


Services Rendered



Name of the Tests



Identification of wood samples

Rs. 600/- per sample


Physical tests viz. Moisture content, specific gravity, weight, water absorption, swelling etc. of wood and wood products.

Rs. 1,000/- per specimen per test


Moisture content in Wood as per IS 1141-1993

Rs. 1,000/- per specimen per test


Physical properties viz. Sound absorption, thermal conductivity, dielectric constants of wood and wood products.

Rs. 2,500/- per specimen per test


Mechanical tests viz. Bending, Compression, Tension, Hardness, Shear, Nail and Screw withdrawal resistance etc. of wood and wood products

Rs. 1,000/- per specimen per test


Packing cases and Tea tests

Rs. 1,000/- per piece


Panel door as per IS:1003 (excluding identification of species, checking of chemical treatment, moisture content, etc.)

Rs. 10,000/- per door


Flush door as per IS:2202 and IS:2191

Rs. 10,000/- per door


Plywood as per IS:303, IS:710, IS:4990, etc. (Moisture, glue shear strength in three conditions and tensile strength)

Rs. 5,000/- per sample


Block boards as per IS:1659

Rs. 5,000/- per sample


Particle board (plain veneered and laminated), fiber boards, insulation board and MDF board etc. as per relevant standard (excluding thermal conductivity, dielectric constant, sound absorption etc.)

Rs. 5,000/- per sample


Testing of LVL door as per TADS-15 (1995) excluding identification of species

Rs. 20,000/- per door


Supplying of data on physical and mechanical properties of wood, suitability indices, safe working stresses of strength coefficient etc.

Rs. 5,000/- per wood species


Visual inspection of sawn wood for heartwood percentage, knots (their size) and presence of boreholes

Rs. 1,000/- per sample


Specific information by post

Rs. 500/-

Consultancies :-


Consultancies for routine matters at headquarter

  • Scientist

  • Supporting staff



Rs.1,000/- per day


Rs. 300/- per day


Consultancies at outside station by inviting Scientist/Staff

  • Scientist

  • Supporting staff



Rs. 2,000/- per day


Rs. 500/- per day


Facilities and Equipments


       The Division has the following facilities and equipments for rendering services to user industries and Government and non-government organisations:

  • Testing of timber and timber products for determining the strength properties.

  • Identification of timber

  • Workshop for processing wood samples for various experiments.

The division is well equipped with

  • Universal Testing Machine

  • Thermal Conductivity Apparatus 

  • Electrical Conductivity Apparatus 

  • Universal Wood Tester

  • Compound Research Microscope with Photographic Equipment

  • Image Analysis System 

  • Wood Microtome 

  • CCTV Camera with Monitor 

  • Wood Workshop.


Research Staff


  1. Dr. R.V. Rao, Scientist-F, Head of the Division

  2. Dr. S.K. Sharma, Scientist-F

  3. Dr. S.R. Shukla, Scientist-D

  4. Mrs. T.R. Hemavathi, Scientist-D

  5. Mr. P. Kumar, Scientist-B

  6. Mr. Anil Kumar Sethy,  Scientist-B

  7. Mr. N.C.M. Rajan, Scientist-B

  8. Mr. R. Sudheendra, Research Assistant, Gr.-I

  9. Mrs. M. Sujatha, Research Assistant, Gr.-I

  10. Mrs. S. Shashikala, Research Assistant, Gr.-I

  11. Mrs. P. Anthony Das, Technical Assistant

For Further Information, Please Contact:

    The Head

    Wood Properties and Uses Division

    Institute of Wood Science and Technology

    P.O. Malleswaram

    Bangalore-560 003 (India)

    E-Mail: wpu_iwst@icfre.org