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In my last article, I discussed big box store construction lumber (SYP – Southern yellow pine) and its use in furniture. I’ve found that it’s cheap, high in moisture and needs consideration in selection and prep.

Working with construction lumber is a unique experience and a great learning material.

Southern yellow pine typically has wide growth rings (which means it grows fast) and has some of the hardest and the softest grain imaginable. This bipolar personality of hard and soft wood is the root of its working personality. The transition between the two densities causes it to split and splinter easily. The hard late growth will destroy blade edges and the soft early growth will crumble under anything but the sharpest of tools.

You have two options with chisel edges while working with SYP. Use a steep angle for durability but risk crushed fibers, or lower the angle at the risk of crumbled blade edges. I’m of the opinion that it’s easier to sharpen a blade than repair crushed fibers, so I grind my chisels to a lower angle for SYP and keep a strop or stone nearby.

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