By Blake Powell, WIR Contributor

There’s no arguing that every piece of wood tells a story, and Southern Yellow Pine is no different. Every artisan creates furniture out of this building material does so in their own, unique way. Tom Iovino is one of these builders, and he creates stories with the woodwork he creates over at

SYP coffee table built by Tom. Image via

Tom, who’s been a part-time woodworker for around 15 years, has written columns for Wood Magazine and posts advice on Wood Talk Online, where he demonstrates his expertise with woodworking and shares tips with avid builders, thinkers, and dreamers. Tom reminds us that it doesn’t take a lot to start building and that sometimes you have to stumble before you succeed. He believes that if you can dream it you can build it.

Creating with SYP

From Tom’s post: “Pine is Fine.” Image via

In one of his posts, Tom illustrates why Southern Yellow Pine is a great building material. Tom wrote, “My favorite pines are of the Southern Yellow variety… [because they] have a very pronounced grain pattern,” showcasing their unique qualities and Southern beauty.

“Southern Yellow Pine is a great wood to build with. I love that it’s a hard softwood that [works with the] machines well and holds crisp detail,” Tom said via email interview. In fact, Tom created his workbench out of Southern Yellow Pine, a coffee table, a trestle table for his old office and a blanket chest for his bedroom…all out of SYP.

SYP is Easy to Use and Accessible

Raised panel blanket chest made from SYP. Image via

As Tom advises his readers, SYP can be found at many home improvement centers. To use SYP for building construction, Tom uses wider boards (2x12s), cuts them into oversize parts, and lets them sit for a couple days to reach a moisture content of about 7% for his home projects.

Apart from being easy to use and looking great, SYP is inexpensive and allows for more experimentation than more expensive hardwoods do.

Finishing for a More Rustic Look

After cutting the wood for his projects, Tom points out that “the pronounced grain pattern [on the wood] is striking when seen… and the projects built can be high-end or rustic, depending on how they are handled.”

A painted Dutch tool chest. Image via

Tom even wipes on some varnish to give his pieces a more antique look if needed. One of the things that Tom loves about SYP is that it is a versatile wood that is inexpensive to use and easy to experiment with, which is a builder’s dream.







(Images via, Cover image via photographer Petr_Joura on ThinkStock)