Southern Yellow Pine: A Quick Fix

With the book Furniture in the Southern Style out, my desire to build more than a few pieces from the book’s collection skyrocketed. Add in the fact that my customer has quite a few pieces on the list that are adapted from south of the Mason-Dixon line, and you can see that I have the need for a couple hundred board feet of southern yellow pine (SYP) for secondary wood if I intended to stay true to the original designs. I needed rear drawer dividers and drawer runners quickly, so I turned to my local home-center store.

Any SYP you get at these stores – if your store carries SYP at all – is most likely going to be construction lumber, and it’s going to be at too high a moisture content for furniture. Don’t let that stop you. You can take a couple boards, mill them oversize and allow them to dry, then bring the pieces down to finial dimensions. As you can see in the top photo, a silk purse can be made from a sow’s ear. Or for you highfaluting woodworkers,  you can get nice lumber from construction-grade yellow pine.

It goes without saying that quartersawn lumber is the most stable, so that’s what to look for in your quest. Take a look at the rack of yellow pine at the store shown in the photo above left. You can see that most boards could yield rift sawn lumber, but if you take a close look at the bottom board (of course it’s the bottom board!) you can see how it is cut right at the center of the tree. See the pith? If you cut away the pith you have a width of quartersawn lumber left over.

I snagged a few 8′-0″ 2 x 12s and ripped out a nice selection of yellow pine to use. I let it sit in my shop for about a week, before putting some of it to use. (If you stand the boards vertical to dry it seems to increase the drying rate slightly.) Here’s a close-up look at my stock prior to final milling. Growth rings are tight and the majority of the lumber is quartered with the balance rift -cut.

Keep in mind that I only grabbed enough to get me started on a project. In the long run, I ordered and received a nice supply of rough-cut SYP from a local source here in downtown Cincinnati, Shiel’s Lumber. I highly recommend them if you’re in the area and need southern yellow pine.

There is one thing that I do want to warn you about if you choose construction-grade lumber. Higher moisture content means more wetness. More wetness means there is a possibility of rust on your tools. I stacked lumber on my table saw for only a few minutes, and there was enough water purged to get the rust gods working.

Build Something Great!

Glen

3 Comments

Filed under Shop Tips

3 responses to “Southern Yellow Pine: A Quick Fix

  1. Glad you have this blog up and running. I look forward to all you have to share.

  2. Thanks, Glen. Glad Woodworker’s Edge is being revitalized.

  3. Harlan Janes

    SYP has quite a heritage. I was fortunate to get my hands on some reclaimed joists from an ancient building, old growth SYP, likely 1800’s construction. Beautiful color. Some of the toughest, close grained wood I’ve milled. I used it for secondary wood in a small piece, but it might be too good to consume the rest of it that way. Got it out of an estate sale. Enjoy the new book and your articles. Thanks.
    Harlan

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