In the evolution of trees, wood tissue has developed which has highly effective axial compression (i.e. compression along the grain) and bending strength characteristics. For its weight, this wood demonstrates amazing stiffness as well as fracture resistance and it is therefore utilized in structural products such as furniture. However, although axial strength of wood is impressive, the comparative weakness of wood perpendicular to the grain, in both compression and tension, can often be the limiting factor of mechanical performance. This is indicated by examples ranging from surface indentation and splitting to the failure of joints. Given the anisotropic nature of wood, the many possible modes of loading wood tissue, the many environmental conditions and defects which influence strength, and the array of different structural applications of wood in furniture, a thorough discussion of mechanical properties is hardly feasible here. Therefore this section will merely highlight selected aspects of the strength of clear (defect-free) wood and the major factors that influence it in relation to furniture.
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