Southern Yellow Pine is one of the strongest woods in North America

And it presents challenges to amateur woodworkers. With the right tools and a little practice though, you can produce a beautiful gazebo or turn out a sturdy playset for the kids. Having the right saw for this heavy-grained wood is essential. Most weekend woodworkers’ issues with SYP center around attempts to cut it, either crosscutting (across the grain) or ripping (with the grain).

Hand Saws

What type of saws to use on Southern Yellow Pine from Wood. It's Real.

Hand sawing SYP is a marvelous exercise if you need to tone up and drop a few pounds. If you insist on going old-school, look for hand saws that can handle this very dense (34 pounds per cubic foot) wood, say experts at Wood and Shop:

  • Rip saw with small teeth, 4 to 7 points per inch (ppi)—4-7 ppi; the number is stamped on the blade
  • Crosscut hand saw—With larger teeth than a rip saw, at 7-9 ppi

Portable Power Tools

Types of saws to use when working with Southern Yellow Pine from Wood. It's Real.

Most circular saws, scroll saws, and jigsaws are sold with inexpensive blades. Take a tip from Lumber Jocks and toss out the provided blade, substituting a high-quality blade designed for the job you will be doing:

  • For ripping SYP with a circular saw, look for a 24-tooth (24T), carbide-tipped, silicone-coated blade that reduces pitch and resin buildup.
  • For crosscutting SYP with a circular saw, buy a blade with at least 40 teeth; the more teeth, the smoother the cut, but the teeth can also get a buildup of resin because of the heat the cut generates.

For circular saws, avoid combination blades; they compromise cutting quality in both directions!

For scroll saws and jigsaws, the same notion applies; fewer teeth for ripping, more teeth for crosscutting. Buy the highest-quality blades you can afford and change them frequently.

Table and Radial Arm SawsThe type of saws to use when working with Southern Yellow Pine.

Invest in a superior set of table-mounted saw blades, and you will happily rip and crosscut your SYP for many months. Stick with big-box store blades, and you may find yourself very frustrated! Switch your blade for each type of sawing task:

  • Ripping — A 10” saw with 20 to 30 teeth and deep gullets to relieve heat and resin buildup; the fewer the teeth, the faster the cutting and the lower the heat
  • Crosscutting — Look for a 10” blade with 60 to 80 carbide-tipped teeth

Band Saws

The types of saws to use when working with Southern Yellow Pine.

SYP cuts smoothly on band saws but is resistant to re-sawing. Band saw blades have both thickness and depth. Make sure you buy a blade in the thickness (gauge) recommended for your band saw wheel diameter. Experts at Woodworking Network say that for dense wood like SYP, thicker and wider blades are the best choice.