The potential problems associated with driving timber piles are splitting and brooming of the pile tip and driving end, or the splitting or bowing of the pile body and breaking of the pile during driving. To avoid some of these problems, protective attachments at the pile tip and pile head can be used.
The trend toward heavier hammers and heavier design loading may mean that timber will be subjected to damaging blows when the pile reaches obstructions or end bearing. As a result, timber piles can be protected by a metal boot or point. The point shown in the picture covers the entire pile tip without the need for trimming the pile tip. Also shown is another type of point protection attachment, however requires minor trimming of the pile tip.
Tip protection by a boot or shaped point are recommended with banding near the top to alleviate splitting. The boot is preferred as it attaches quickly having to “point” the actual timber pile and utilizes the full area of the wood for load carrying. Heavy steel banding, perhaps 1-1/4 in. wide and .031 in. thick at 1.5 to 2 ft. below the top of the pile is generally helpful.
Attachment of points (as opposed to a “boot”) for timber piles require that the tip be accurately cut to shape. Otherwise the point has limited value as bearing is uneven. If not straight, it may deflect the pile.
NOTE: The American Wood preservers Institute (AWPI) recommends banding timber piles with heavy metal strapping at the driving end prior to driving to prevent the start of splitting.
Both, boots as well as points, are available in several sizes. As a result, a size can generally be selected that can be placed on the pile with little “hand-axe” cutting of the pile tip.