Machining Mouldings from Southern Yellow Pine

The stock may be cheaper, but what about the quality of the product? December 31, 2013

Most of our custom moldings are to be painted, so we use poplar. We use this in many high end homes. But in many medium end homes, the builders use cheap finger jointed radiata pine moldings. They are usually very thin, low grade moldings, but are one of our biggest competitors. Especially with the high prices of poplar now, we can't compete with their prices. Most of the contractors we sell to would rather use our product because of the service and quality, but the lower cost of finger jointed is an issue.

But we have a unique situation. We also have a 20,000 bf dry kiln that we are not using. And a local mill that cuts southern yellow pine, which is very low priced now.

Even after kiln drying, the SYP would be less than half the cost of poplar. What are the disadvantages of using SYP for moldings? I know SYP is prone to being crooked…

Forum Responses
(Solid Wood Machining Forum)
From contributor B:
I've used SY pine a number of times over the years and never had any issues. I even laminated up some leftover 12' tread material for a matching hand rail. It machined cleanly and has been stable over time.

From contributor A:
As with most softwoods, it will be more susceptible to dings, dents and gouges. In particular this will apply to bases and cases where people vacuum, walk by, etc.

From contributor B:

Actually SY pine is pretty similar to poplar in hardness. To the best of my knowledge it's the hardest of the pines. It will indeed be more susceptible to dings and dents than species like oak and maple, but not nearly as much so as Eastern white pine, for example.

From contributor J:
Seen many companies trying to produce trim from SYP... Most problems related to more knots and correct moisture content (many southern mills only dry their pine down to ~25%, or high-temp dry which builds stress). If it is dried correctly and tools kept sharp, then southern pine can machine beautifully.