Design of structural timber connections

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Connections are an essential part of any structure, and in timber structures they are often the most critical part of a design. The timber section size is often determined by the strength of the section remaining after drilling holes for bolts or dowels, or by the spacing requirements for the fasteners, rather than the load-carrying capacity of the timber. Therefore the design of connections is an important section of any timber design standard.

When selecting and detailing connections for a particular application, designers must consider four criteria:

  • Load transfer
  • Fire resistance
  • Durability
  • Appearance


This Wood Information Sheet (WIS) focuses on the load transfer aspect and is intended mainly for engineers and architects. This WIS is an overview of the subject with signposts to more detailed sources that are listed at the end.


  • Connection types
  • Fastening methods
  • Design of laterally loaded connections
  • Design of axially loaded connections
  • Spacing of fasteners

This Wood Information Sheet was reviewed in February 2017 and minor corrections were made to the references section.

Suggested Reading

Performance of fire-resisting timber doorsetsnavigation-arrow

Fire-resisting doorsets are required to be able to contain a fully developed fire, to facilitate escape of a building's occupants and allow fire fighting, and to protect the contents and/or the structure from the effects of fire. The doorset therefore must have resistance to fire, expressed in terms of time.


11/04/2017 |  Wood Information Sheet  

How does CLT perform in a fire?navigation-arrow

Oliver Neve explains what happens to CLT during a fire, extracted from TRADA’s forthcoming book on the performance of cross-laminated timber (CLT).


Article from Timber 2017 Industry Yearbook

01/03/2017 |  Magazine Article  

Fire performance of timber frame dwellingsnavigation-arrow

This Wood Information Sheet, produced in association with the UK Timber Frame Association, explains the basic principles used in meeting fire performance requirements and provides guidance to ensure that all parties involved understand their role in the design and construction of a timber frame building.

The sheet considers...

12/09/2016 |  Wood Information Sheet