Southern Yellow Pine help

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Forum topic by Wintersedge posted 04-10-2010 02:16 AM 10536 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Wintersedge's profile


83 posts in 2394 days

04-10-2010 02:16 AM

I am looking to build a workbench.. Was looking at using hard maple or ash until I realized that I need about 150bd/ft plus some room for waste and my budget ran out around 50bd/ft.

My next choice is southern yellow pine. However I think I am confused or have made a wrong choice.. I went to the big box store and they all swear southern yellow pine is the same as pressure treated.. I had thought SYP was a type of tree and the hardest of soft woods.

If anyone knows of a good lumber supplier in Atlanta area please post.. I am making a trip up to Peach State Lumber tomorrow morning to get some education and see what their prices plus deliver is. I am NE east of Atlanta, and Peach State is on the NW side, about 75 minutes from me.


-- Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot.

11 replies so far

View bhack's profile


349 posts in 3140 days

#1 posted 04-10-2010 02:49 AM

Southern Yellow Pine is a species and definitely not pressure treated. It is a good economical wood to use for a workbench. Check out my bench in my projects.

Good Luck.


-- Bill - If I knew GRANDKIDS were so much fun I would have had them first.

View dfdye's profile


372 posts in 2457 days

#2 posted 04-10-2010 03:32 AM

Do what now? Since when did yellow pine mean pressure treated??? Well, whoever you talked to is mis-informed.

Southern yellow pine is a catch phrase for anything grown in the south that isn’t white pine (not really a single species, as much as a description). Most of what I have seen marketed as SYP is loblolly pine since it was planted to be fast growing. Unfortunately, the speed at which it grows imparts a lot of strain in the wood, so it isn’t the most stable stuff all of the time. Some of the long leaf pine that I have seen is pretty solid, but I would take a good look at what they are actually selling as SYP and make a judgement call there as to whether it would suit your needs.

Good luck!

-- David from Indiana --

View chrisl's profile


17 posts in 3140 days

#3 posted 04-10-2010 04:03 AM

Check they have a dealer listing that can help you find it. Also look for SPIB on the board which indicates its SYP. I found it in my area by calling a real lumber yard – the home centers can’t tell their rearend from a hole in the ground when it comes to wood species and use. Get a lumber yard with an old guy who knows his stuff and you’ll find a source for information you won’t believe.

-- Chris L from Beatrice, NE

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3207 days

#4 posted 04-10-2010 04:31 AM

I think you are getting conflicted info. SYP stamp means southern yellow pine. It is not hard and it is a fairly common soft wood. It is, however, structural suitable for building. In days past, almost everything you saw in the big box store or local lumber supply was SYP. Now they have added the term SPF: This means it can be spruce, pine, or fir. This allows a lot of what used to be “white wood” lumber as well as a lot of the foreign imports species. It was not allowed 20 years ago for load bearing structures (except for Douglas fir) in many places, but with the imports, now a lot of wood previously considered inferior is now allowed.

If you want SYP, you will probably need to look at boards over 8” width. Much of that is still SYP. Almost all treated lumber is also SYP as it absorbs the chemicals readily under pressure, which a lot of the other species won’t. However, it will also have the stamp ACQ or MACQ to denote the treatment chemical. If you are looking for 2×4 or 2×6 lumber, you can find SYP in the longer lengths, but the cost per BF is outrageous.

I use a lot of pine (SYP), so buy 8” or wider lumber (I check the warehouse first) and then mill it to what I need. It is very noticeable which is which once you get used to identifying the grain structure.

SYP does harden over time, but most of the SPF will not, so SYP is still a good wood.


-- Go

View Les Casteel's profile

Les Casteel

159 posts in 2479 days

#5 posted 04-10-2010 04:40 AM

Well, most of the pressure treated wood IS southern yellow pine. However, here in Arkansas, Home Depot and Lowe’s both sell regular untreated southern yellow pine. Sind Home Depot is headquartered in Atlanta ( I think) I’m surprised you can’t get it? Anyway, It usually comes in 2×8 and greater and usually not in 1”.

Oh, and I do believe although coniferous Southern Yellow Pine by definition is a hardwood due to its specific weight. At any rate after 6-8 years in a building its almost impossible to nail it and it makes wonderful workbenches.

good luck!

-- Les, Arkansas,

View Jerry Earley's profile

Jerry Earley

11 posts in 2416 days

#6 posted 04-10-2010 05:14 AM

I used reclaimed lumber to build one of my shop tables and a 100 yr old door for the top works great and is very heavy. Cost= few hours labor.

-- Jerry Earley ( Perserving the American Wood Heritage One Barn at a Time)

View davidroberts's profile


1025 posts in 2906 days

#7 posted 04-11-2010 05:55 AM

In the Houston area Lowes and HD sells 1×4 yellow pine, maybe 1×6 but not in 2 by anything. And not treated.

-- Better woodworking through old hand tools.

View Wintersedge's profile


83 posts in 2394 days

#8 posted 04-12-2010 05:35 AM

I went back to the home depot near my house and they only sell yellow pine that is treated. HD has untreated yellow pine on their website. This store does sell 2×8 and larger Douglas Fir.

Time to get a truck and just drive to a lumber yard.

-- Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot.

View tblank's profile


57 posts in 2390 days

#9 posted 04-13-2010 10:02 PM

Chris L. really nailed it. Big box stores are NOT lumberyards. They are CONVENIENCE stores. A real lumberman knows the species and how they are milled and from where, and most likely when. They also have a much better network of millers than the box stores. The box stores are for little old ladies to get their plant food and light bulbs. I’ve never left a box store with everything on my list checked off.

View Wintersedge's profile


83 posts in 2394 days

#10 posted 04-18-2010 06:49 AM

I found a local lumber yard that a fellow woodworker recommended. They have true SYP cheaper than the big box and will allow me sift through the stack to fnd what I want as long as I stack them back up! The lumber is kiln dried and very straight. Now to find someone who has a truck. :0

Can you believe I am a home owner and wood worker and drive only 1 car which is a two door accord.

Thanks for all the advice everyone. I learned quite a bit and also see how poorly equiped the big box stores are.. not just the do it yourself centers..

-- Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot.

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 2588 days

#11 posted 04-18-2010 08:01 AM

I learned about southern yellow pine from a book called Workbenches.
It written by Christopher Schwarz from Popular Woodworking magazine.
One thing he recommends is buying larger timbers 2×12’s.
If I recall correctly the reason being the large boards are cut to be used as beams or rafters.
These timbers will be straighter with less knots.
The following link is the Workbench book offered on Mr. Schwarz’s web site. I highly recommend reading this book .

My problem with SYP is it’s not offered in lumber yards in central California.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

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