FRST 449B (2 cr): Directed Studies in Forestry: Wood Properties and Identification


Mode of Delivery

This is a print-based, correspondence course.

Course Outline

  • Seven Assignments
  • Final Examination
  • Course Video

Course offered three times per year

Course Description

FRST 449 Directed Studies in Forestry: Wood Properties and Identification – Elementary chemical, physical and mechanical properties of wood, and their variations in relation to structure; identification by handlens features.

Note: Students who take this course for UBC credit cannot also obtain credit for WOOD 475.

The Intended Student

This is an overview course for forestry students who are not majoring in wood science, but who are seeking elementary knowledge of wood as a material, and its variation with the growth conditions. Forest management students and individuals pursuing professional forestry registration through the Association of B.C. Forest Professionals should find their wood properties and identification requirements fulfilled through successful completion of this course.

Course Objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, you will have developed the following:

  1. an understanding of the influence of cell structure variation on wood properties, and the degree to which this variability can be controlled by growing conditions;
  2. the ability to identify 17 hardwoods and 10 softwoods in the form of individual species groups or genera, based on gross physical features and structural features visible with a 10-power handlens; and
  3. an understanding of the factors influencing the interaction of wood with moisture; wood weight; and the strength of wood and wood products.

Course Content

The content is divided into seven lessons:

Lesson 1: Tree growth and wood formation; macroscopic character of wood; physical and chemical aspects of the wood cell wall.

Lesson 2: Wood anatomy: softwood and hardwood structure; wood identification.

Lesson 3: Moisture content, specific gravity and density.

Lesson 4: Moisture measurement, movement, and wood shrinkage; drying defects; lumber drying.

Lesson 5: Mechanical properties of wood: strength, deformation and elasticity; bending moments and stresses in wood beams; simple beam design problems; laboratory testing.

Lesson 6: Variability in strength and stiffness due to internal (wood) characteristics and external conditions; clear wood versus lumber; derivation of working stresses; mechanical stress grading.

Lesson 7: Reaction wood and juvenile wood; effect of growth conditions and silvicultural practices on wood quality.


The grade for the course work will be broken down into the following percentages:

Three Assignments 50%
Final Examination 50%

Of the seven graded assignments, two are wood identification quizzes, three are problem sets, and two are laboratory reports of wood testing processes.

In order to pass the course, students must:

  • complete and submit all assignments before writing the final examination;
  • obtain a passing grade (>50%) on the examination; and
  • obtain an overall passing mark in the course.

Textbook and Course Materials

Haygreen, J.G. & Bowyer, J.L. Forest Products and Wood Science – An Introduction. 5th ed. 2007.

FRST 449B Learner Package (includes course manual)

You will also be required to purchase a box of wood samples and have a ten-power handlens and sharp knife for wood identification purposes.

FRST449B Textbook Order Form

Supplementary Materials

A course video shows wood identification techniques as well as a number of laboratory wood-testing procedures. This video will be sent out to registered students on loan by the Office of Learning Technology.

a place of mind, The University of British Columbia

UBC Sites

Emergency Procedures | Accessibility | Contact UBC  | © Copyright The University of British Columbia