Southern Yellow Pine

Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) was a hot topic at the Woodshop committee meeting on Sunday, so I was a little surprised to find two guys in the shop on Tuesday afternoon cleaning up box store yellow pine for projects they had going. One had been told (not by me) he couldn’t run his 2x10s through the jointer and planer, so he was “planing” his 2x10s to thickness using the Multicam with a 3/8" end mill—and he had been at it since 8:30 that morning(!). The other guy was ripping the rounded edges off of 2x4s and cutting them into about 4’ lengths. I stopped him when started running them through the drum sander and again when he switched to the planer. Both were experienced woodworkers and not happy about the “no SYP” rule. Both pointed out that there are no signs saying “no SYP”. I encouraged them both to get on Talk and make their voices heard.

This is my take on it: Both guys were working with what looked to be relatively dry wood. I didn’t put a moister meter on any of it, but the wood looked to be under 12% and in my opinion should have been just fine (except for maybe the drum sander). I’m not convinced that “no SYP” should be a hard and fast rule and what I saw on Tuesday was a good example why.

On the other hand, I’m pretty sure we have the rule because there are feral woodworkers who use the Woodshop that don’t know SYP from treated lumber, and they don’t know wet wood from dry. And if we open the door for well-seasoned SYP, we’ll have some knucklehead driving a treated lumber truck through it.

I guess if we’re going to have the rule, we need to put up signs on the tools that we can’t use with SYP.


I’m on talk a decent amount, and this is the first I’ve seen on the topic. Thanks for the PSA!

On that note, this policy hamstrings those of us on a tight budget. Even when not on a tight budget, it’s an easy to source, decent wood for many “home woodworker” projects.

Now, moisture content, that I can get behind. It’s testable, it’s easy to combat (time and a dry location), and it applies to all wood types. Had that piece of oak sitting in your backyard during the last storm? Sorry, gonna need to give it a while.

Sad I missed the meeting. 2 kids under 3 makes participation a little more challenging.


Where is this rule documented? The only instance I could find on the wiki is here:

Says the ban was removed except for two items. There is no mention of Souther Yellow Pine that I could find.

For historical reference:

There are probably others. This is the search I ran to find the feed-in here:

PS: personal opinion - Wiki is the place to document rules because the material placed thereon is much less “mobile” than Talk and edit/restore/paper trail capabilities are better. Talk is good for short-term announcements and reaching the daily audience who is more likely to trail through Talk on a daily basis than to traipse through the wiki on a daily basis. Like most tools, learning to use each for its respective strengths will maximize benefit to parties involved.


I would say that all rules should be posted to a rules section of the committee page on the WIKI. If its not there it didn’t happen. Expecting people to search through meeting notes and forums to see if they can do something is ludicrous.


I thought the issue with SYP wasn’t the moisture content, but rather it’s propensity for large quantities of sap to gum up all the cutting edges.

And there had been a fair bit of discussion that white pine was not normally labeled separately from fir, and not normally an issue, so the original ban on all pine was reduced to SYP.


@mdittenber My understanding is that SYP was banned from the planer and jointer because wet sappy wood had ripped the teeth out of one of them. This happened before my time.

And I agree that the rules should be on the Wiki, but it should also be posted on a sign attached to our near the jointer, planer and drum sander.


That’s right. Woodshop Committee is mostly concerned with SYP on jointer and planer, as gumming up the carbide cutters on those two tools usually results in 2-3 hours of a knowledgeable volunteers time to remove, clean, and reset all of the cutters on both machines (the typical process is to joint, then thickness plane). Or replace them if needed, which is pretty expensive.

I think sanding, even with drum sander is OK (as in allowed) as long as sandpaper is switched out if it gets all gummed/clogged. The same thing with using Multicam…at least a single flattening bit is easy to clean off and also much easier to bring your own.

This is what makes the issue “hot”. The stuff (‘fresh’ SYP) is a sappy mess; just running the stuff that guy brought in through jointer and planer would have probably required the current set of cutters to be cleaned or rotated. But the stuff is plentiful and cheap…who doesn’t like that?

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I think there should be a sign on those machines where you can’t use it, and there should be a labeled piece of SYP hung on the wall somewhere that says “this is SYP, you can’t use it here here or here”. I am one of those people who couldn’t identity southern yellow pine from any other kind of wood, so it would be good to have something visual to compare


I think the larger issue is this: If a member is working on a project so nice that is requires the use of the planer and the jointer, they probably should be working with better wood than SYP from Home Depot. Framing lumber is great for lots of DIY projects. I built my workbench out of laminated SYP that I ripped from 2x12s (as did someone else in one of the SYP threads). I even built a lathe stand out of it. But all I used was my table saw and my chop saw, both of which are still acceptable for use with SYP in the Woodshop. The wood was gummy and sappy and reeked of pine tar, but it was relatively easy to clean my table saw chop saw blade when I was done.

Perhaps it’s also an issue of education–teaching/learning about which woods are appropriate for different projects. And perhaps that education should include educating the casual woodworkers where to source better quality woods at reasonable prices. If you’re going to paint the project in the end, poplar really isn’t all that expensive. It’s easy to machine and the results are infinitely nicer than anything you can make from framing lumber.


I’ve made some nice things out of 2x4s (‘whitewood’). Once you get that ridiculous curved edge off of it and you pick a nice straight piece to begin with, it’s nice wood and easily machined to be flat.


Also, keep in mind, a small population of newbies didn’t know what SYP meant until recently.

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Soak Your Pancakes (in delicious syrup)

you definitely don’t want to run those through the planer.


fixed that for you

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Great, now I have a craving for pancakes. Delicious pancakes. Guess I know what I’m having for dinner.




I’ve never had a problem with it being sappy. BUT I pretty much never buy the cheapest 2x4s available, and they live in my garage drying for a while.

That said, if SYP is by nature sappy, then I can adjust.

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In case you didn’t know - IHOP has really good fried cheese too.

Great idea except the the natural variations in wood grain, tone, and pattern make even a ten piece example inconclusive.
It is the responsibility of the user to know the material before milling it.
Imagine if a Metal Shop user couldn’t identify the metal or a Ceramics user couldn’t identify the cone level of a clay the expectation is that the user exercise good judgement and not potentially damage a machine.


Some of the comments re: not knowing about SYP restrictions lend even more weight to the need for yearly recertification/review of policy for WS users as suggested last weekend.