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Determining Allowable Design Values for Wood

Richard E. Nolan, PE, SECB

Course Outline

This is a three hour course. The course begins with introducing the student to the most popular wood products but the course focuses on sawn lumber. The difference between a reference and allowable design values is explained. The six most commonly needed types of wood design values are introduced and explained. An illustration is then given which shows how the design value types relate to the direction of the wood grain. Next, the ten most significant adjustment factors are introduced. This is followed by how to determine the numerical value of the adjustment factors. How to apply the adjustment factors to the reference design values is then explained. The course is then completed by showing realistic examples that use the methodology that was presented in the course. A multiple-choice quiz is administered at the end which is designed to enhance the understanding of the course material.

This course includes a multiple-choice quiz at the end, which is designed to enhance the understanding of course materials.

Learning Objective

At the conclusion of this course, the student will:

Intended Audience

Engineers, Architects or builders who need to determine the allowable design values for wood.

Benefit for Attendee

Be certain that wood components can safely carry a load because the correct allowable design value was used.

Course Introduction

Wood is the most popular building material for residential homes and other smaller buildings. There are many types of wood products on the market used in the construction industry today. Some of the engineered wood products include I-joists, laminated veneer and glued laminated timber. However, the most familiar and well used is still sawn lumber. This course will provide the methodology for determining the allowable design values to use when designing sawn lumber components, such as beams, headers, trusses, floor joists, decking, etc. However, much of the same methodology and adjustment factors are also applicable to the other types of engineered lumber.

This course teaches the methodology used by the National Design Specification (NDS) for Wood Construction published by the American Forest & Paper Association and the American Wood Council. It is recommended but not essential that the student obtain a copy of this nationally recognized standard. Owning a copy of the NDS will not only increase the understanding of the course material but also be an invaluable source of information for anyone designing wood structures. The NDS contains reference design values for all types of sawn lumber and other engineered wood products. The copy of the NDS can be purchased from

Course Content

The course content is contained in the following PDF file:

Determining Allowable Design Values for Wood

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Course Summary

The necessary types of design values needed to design structural wood components are presented (e.g., Fb, Fc, Fc┴, Fv, Ft, E). The significant adjustment factors needed to adjust the reference design values are presented (e.g., CD, CM, Ct, CC, CF, Cr, Ci, CP, CT, Cb). How to determine the value of the adjustment factors will be presented except those for CT, CP, and CL which were beyond the scope of the course. Circumstances when CT, CP, and CL are equal to unity are explained.  How to determine CT, CP, and CL when they do not equal 1.0 can be found in the reference. Reference design values need to be adjusted by all the applicable adjustment factors in order to obtain the correct allowable design values. Example problems are provided at the end of the course which utilized the information learned.

Related Links

National Design Specification for Wood Construction by American Forest & Paper Association and American Wood Council


Once you finish studying the above course content, you need to take a quiz to obtain the PDH credits.

Take a Quiz

DISCLAIMER: The materials contained in the online course are not intended as a representation or warranty on the part of PDH Center or any other person/organization named herein. The materials are for general information only. They are not a substitute for competent professional advice. Application of this information to a specific project should be reviewed by a registered architect and/or professional engineer/surveyor. Anyone making use of the information set forth herein does so at their own risk and assumes any and all resulting liability arising therefrom.