Journal article Open Access
Thermo‐hydro mechanical (THM) treatments and thermo‐treatments are used to improve the properties of wood species and enhance their uses without the application of chemicals. This work investigates and compares the effects of THM treatments on three timber species from Tasmania, Australia; plantation fibre‐grown shining gum (Eucalyptus nitens H. Deane and Maiden), plantation saw‐log radiata pine (Pinus radiata D. Don) and native‐grown saw‐log timber of the common name Tasmanian oak (which can be any of E. regnans F. Muell, E. obliqua L’Hér and E. delegatensis L’Hér). Thin lamellae were compressed by means of THM treatment from 8 mm to a target final thickness of 5 mm to investigate the suitability for using THM‐treated lamellas in engineered wood products. The springback, mass loss, set‐recovery after soaking, dimensional changes, mechanical properties, and Brinell hardness were used to evaluate the effects of the treatment on the properties of the species. The results show a marked increase in density for all three species, with the largest increase presented by E. nitens (+53%) and the smallest by Tasmanian oak (+41%). E. nitens displayed improvements both in stiffness and strength, while stiffness decreased in P. radiata samples and strength in Tasmanian oak samples. E. nitens also displayed the largest improvement in hardness (+94%) with respect to untreated samples. P. radiata presented the largest springback whilst having the least mass loss. E. nitens and Tasmanian oak showed similar dimensional changes, whilst P. radiata timber had the largest thickness swelling and set‐recovery due to the high water absorption (99%). This study reported the effects of THM treatments in less‐ known and commercially important timber species, demonstrating that the wood properties of a fibre‐grown timber can be improved through the treatments, potentially increasing the utilisation of E. nitens for structural and higher quality timber applications.