Bench-scale fire tests of Dark Red Meranti and Spruce finger joints in tension

Chee Beng Ong, Wen Shao Chang, Martin P. Ansell, Daniel Brandon, Magdalena Sterley, Pete Walker

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3 Citations (SciVal)


This study investigates the secondary failure of Malaysian Dark Red Meranti (Shorea spp.) and Spruce (Picea abies) finger joints in a glulam beam in a fire test using a bench-scale test set-up. Secondary failure is the occurrence of failure of the bond lines due to fire and the falling off of the outermost tension layers, exposing the uncharred inner layers to a sudden increase of fire intensity. The lack of published work and the difficulties in describing the behaviour of the finger joints after the secondary failure in a full-scale fire test has identified the need for a simple bench-scale method, incorporating the conditions of the standard fire test. This paper focusses on the performance of the finger joints which together with other defects such as knots and splits are generally the weakest component in the glulam beam. The finger joints were bonded with structural adhesives, specifically phenol resorcinol formaldehyde (PRF) and polyurethane (PUR). They were tested in tension to imitate the failure of finger joints on the tension side of a standard fire test of a glulam beam. Constant heat flux was introduced to the finger-jointed specimens to replicate the secondary failure of a glulam beam in the standard fire test. The results of this study indicate a relationship between the charring rate and density of the specimens, with higher density Dark Red Meranti showing lower charring rate compared to the lower density Spruce specimens. Factors such as constant heat flux as opposed to the time-increasing heat flux exposure and specimen size influenced the charring rate of the specimens. The char rate was measured at the early stages of the fire test, which is known to have higher values since the build-up of the charred layers was not sufficiently substantial to protect the inner unburnt wood. Overall, the bench-scale fire test set-up was able to differentiate the fire performance of the adhesives, with PRF showing better fire performance compared to the specimens finger-jointed with PUR adhesive. In addition, tensile tests at ambient temperature showed no significant difference in tensile strength between finger joints bonded with different adhesives for the same wood species. The tensile strengths of the finger joints bonded with different adhesives were influenced by the temperature profile through the joint. The proposed bench-scale fire test was used to compare the quality of the adhesives in a fire situation, specifically with respect to secondary failure. The PRF was selected as the reference adhesive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-265
Number of pages9
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Early online date24 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2018


  • Bench-scale fire test
  • Charring rate
  • Dark Red Meranti (Shoreaspp.)
  • Finger joints
  • Heat flux
  • Phenol resorcinol formaldehyde
  • Polyurethane adhesive
  • Secondary failure
  • Spruce (Picea abies)
  • Tensile strength

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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