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Products and characterization of wood handworks

Involved People:
Mariaenrica Frigione
Francesca Lionetto
Wood is one of the most popular materials since ancient times, either as a structural constituent of buildings either as material for artistic handworks, such as statues, altars, etc. One of the main problems concerning wood and its conservation is the easiness with which it could be damaged by different parasites. The risks of attack are related to both intrinsic characteristics of the wooden object (the type of wood, its size) and the environment in which it is located. The traditional route to improve the natural durability of wood is the application of specific chemical substances, that are, often, harmful to the environment and toxic to the operators. Novel environmental-friendly preservative/consolidants, both synthetic and based on natural sources, are currently under investigation. In particular, the issues considered mainly relate to the effects of these “third-generation systems” on the mechanical properties and biological resistance of intact wood. A particularly important item concerns the study of archaeological wood, specifically the waterlogged one. The first step to undertake in order to select the more appropriate restoration/conservation treatment to be applied on archaeological wood, is the assessment of its conservation condition. Different microscopic, chemical and physical analyses permit to attain this aim. Microscopic analyses (both optical and scanning electron microscopes) allow to obtain qualitative information about the decay of the wooden structure at different level of magnification. The chemical characterisation allows to determine the structural components still present in the cell walls and, in turn, to quantify the decay. The determination of several physical properties of the material (density, water content, shrinkages) can be used to complete the characterization of the degradation of waterlogged archaeological wood.
From: F. Lionetto, M. Frigione: “Effect of novel consolidants on mechanical and absorption properties of deteriorated wood by insect attack”. Journal of Cultural Heritage, Vol. 13, pp. 195-203 (2012)
Fig. 6. SEM images of a treated worm-eaten wood sample at different magnifications: (A) tunnel dug by woodworm filled with dust, (B) interface between the tunnel (upper zone) and clear area of the specimen (lower zone). From: F. Lionetto, M. Frigione: "Mechanical and Natural Durability Properties of Wood Treated with a Novel Organic Preservative/Consolidant Product", Materials and Design, Vol. 30, pp. 3303-3307 (2009).


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