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PIABC Level 3 Certificate in Wood Technology and Application

Course delivery

The work books provided are designed for distance learning with some input by a tutor or in work mentor. There are a number of tasks to complete throughout the book some will require seeking advice or investigating within the work place.

Mandatory Units

Unit 1 Sustainability & Legal Trading of Timber

Part 1 Understand why carbon is related to timber supply

  1. Establish the relationship between carbon and timber supply
  2. Identify the elements of life cycle assessment
  3. Explain why forests are of environmental importance

Part 2 Understand the key influencers of responsible and legal timber sourcing

  1. State the key policies, schemes and legislation influencing responsible sourcing of timber
  2. Identify the purpose and elements within a chain of custody
  3. Identify the main participants with a chain of custody
  4. Name the two principle timber certification schemes in use in the UK
  5. Compare the two principle legal frameworks that control trading of timber
  6. Identify the elements within ‘due diligence’ requirements when trading timber
  7. Outline how trade in endangered species is controlled

Unit 2 Understand how timber quality and grade is related to end use

Part 1 Understand the sorting grades of timber available from Europe and Russia

  1. State the differences between appearance and strength grading.
  2. State the principle sorting grades of timber available from Europe and Russia 
  3. Clarify what is meant by the sorting grade ‘unsorted’

Part 2 Understand the Purpose of strength grading timber

  1. Describe visual strength grading
  2. State how machines grade for strength
  3. Recognise the key differences between a strength grade and a strength class

Part 3 Understand timber end use and preservation treatments

  1. Outline the 5 categories of Use Classes for the different end use situations under current British and European standards
  2. Outline the use of: Tar Oils, Water-Bourne, Organic Solvent, Emulsions as preservative treatments
  3. Explain what is meant by wood modification

Part 4 Understand the use of engineered products

  1. Outline the uses of the main engineered composite structural timber products

Part 5 Understand how to maintain the quality of timber, timber components and panel products

  1. Name the factors responsible for a reduction to the original quality and strength of timber and timber products, post conversion

Optional Units

Please Choose two Units from the options below:

Unit 3 Understand how wood as a material is related to end use

Part 1 Understand wood as a material to determine specification

  1. State the importance of correct name specification
  2. Distinguish the surfaces exposed when timber is converted
  3. Explain the significance of sapwood, heartwood, early wood and late wood for the specification and use of timber
  4. Describe a piece of timber in terms of its gross physical features
  5. State the basic function of principle cells

Part 2 Understand the reasons for timber movement

  1. State what is meant by density and how it relates to a particular timbers use
  2. Account for the behaviour of timber subjected to changes to moisture content
  3. Distinguish between shrinkage and movement of timber

Part 3 Understand the principle British and European norms when specifying timber for particular end uses

  1. Identify the factors that give rise to variability of permeability
  2. Differentiate between the organism that degrade timber, prevention and remedies
  3. State the headings for durability ratings, giving examples of hardwood and softwood timbers with each durability class under standards
  4. Suggest an example application/end use situation for each of the Use Classes within current Standards
  5. Outline the principle woodworm/beetles responsible for timber degrade

Part 4 Understand the effect of loads on timber in use

  1. Distinguish between the main strength properties of timber
  2. State the factors affecting the strength properties of timber
  3. Differentiate between the deflection stresses within timber beam in use: compression, tension, shear, bending

Unit 4 Understand softwoods and their appropriate use

Part 1 Understand the principle sources of wood supply

  1. Identify the main geographical origins of softwood growth and supply
  2. Distinguish between natural and plantation supply

Part 2 Understand how machining affects the finished sizes of commercially available softwood

  1. Detail standard sizes of sawn stock available from world sources noting how further machining affects the finished dimensions
  2. Clarify the abbreviations and terms commonly used to describe planed timber stock and explain the differences

Part 3 Understand the main grading systems and how the grade affects end use

  1. Distinguish between commercial/appearance grading and strength grading systems
  2. State how the determined grade affects its end use
  3. Outline the main available grades in Europe, North America and South America
  4. Summarise the uses for commercial grades of European Softwood

Part 4 Understand the relationship between timber specification and end use applications

  1. Compare the main commercial softwoods in terms of their physical properties and characteristics and how this relates to end use
  2. Explain why the softwoods origin, species, properties, characteristics, grade and price dictates suitability for various end use environments

Unit 5 Understand the main hardwoods used in the UK and their end use


Part 1 Understand the origin and supply of hardwoods to the UK

  1. Identify the main types of hardwood forest in the world
  2. Identify the structure and character of each type of hardwood forest
  3. Name the major sources of supply of hardwoods to the UK market and the forms in which it is traded

Part 2 Understand the main aspects of hardwood specification

  1. Describe the features relevant when specifying hardwoods. Including dimensions, moisture content and grades
  2. Outline the methods available for the grading of hardwoods

Part 3 Understand the relationship between end use and timber species

  1. Specify timbers for given purpose, ensuring the timber properties are suitable for the end use environment
  2. Compare the properties of five distinctive groups of hardwoods, based on their geographical origin, colour or density
  3. Comment on the properties of important hardwoods


There will be a formal examination held twice a year which should be taken on completion of the work books. The exam will be based on the learning outcomes and assessment criteria set out in the course specification by the awarding body. The whole course represents a study time of 100 hours, of which 12 should be guided learning with others. This is a Level 3 Certificate with a credit value of 15.

These activities are approved for Professional Development by the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining.

Wood technology training is delivered by IOM Communications Ltd and endorsed by The Wood Technology Society, a Division of the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining