Elastic constants of wood are fundamental parameters used in finite element analysis of wood structures. However, few studies and standards regulate the dimensions of sample used to measure elastic constants of wood. The size effect on mechanical properties (i.e., elastic constants and proportional limit stresses) of European beech (Fagus sylvatica
L.) wood was studied with five different sizes samples. The data of experiments were inputted into a finite element model of self-designed chair and the loading capacity of chair was investigated by finite element method (FEM) and experiment. The results showed that nonlinear relationships were found between proportional limit stresses, cross-sectional area, and height of specimen by response surface method with R2
greater than 0.72 in longitudinal, radial, and tangential directions. Elastic moduli and shear moduli increased with the height of specimen when cross-sectional area was kept constant, and decreased with an increased cross-sectional area of specimen, when the height was a constant, while the trends of Poisson’s ratio were not as expected. The comparisons between experiment and FEM suggested that the accuracy of FEM simulation increase with the raise of width-height ratio (≤1) of specimens used to determine the elastic constants. It is recommended to use small cubic wood specimen to determine the elastic mechanical properties used for finite element analysis of beech wood structures. Further research to find optimized wood specimen dimensions to get mechanical properties for FEM is quite necessary.
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