A beam is a horizontal member used to support a load. The design of structural members for a particular load involves analysis of the forces imposed on the member by loading and selection of appropriate materials, shapes, and sizes to accommodate the loads. This procedure is best accomplished by a structural engineer and is beyond the scope of this book. Failure to use a beam of adequate size can lead to beam failure with the accompanying danger of injury and/or financial loss. However, several basic concepts are presented here to help the reader understand the properties and load-carrying abilities of simple and cantilever beams made of wood.

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