shop improvements, or "how much do woodworkers use 2x4s?"

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Blog entry by AaronK posted 01-08-2009 02:20 AM 1711 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After finishing that bookcase with some amount of success, I’ve turned towards making some shop improvements that I noted as necessary while i was in the middle of my project:

1. raised, stabilized, and surfaced my “bench”. the bench was originally an old desk. I practically killed myself bending over it, so it needed another 6” or so. I basically used 2×4s to encase the whole thing from the inside and give it a lift. It’s rock solid now, and the perfect height. also added a 3/4” sheet of MDF to the top. it’s now ugly as hell and embarrasing looking. yikes. well, total cost was probably about $10 for the whole thing, and it now works as a bench should, so who cares what it looks like?

2. made a small lumber rack for my scraps. stupid simple, made from 2×4 pieces screwed into the 2×4 frame of my shop room.

3. fixed my router table to the shop framework as well – it had the tendency to “walk” before, but now it’s solid as well.

4. reground and scary sharpened all my chisels and plane blades. I did it right this time, using the self-made jig and wet/dry SiC paper with lubricant. Grits went from 100 to 1200 going through 7 or 8 sizes, with a final polish with 4000 (or 6000, i forgot). nice.

5. general cleaning up and organizing. I need some sort of storage unit with lots of shelves, but I cant afford crap. maybe some pegboard between the wall studs is in order…

This sprucing up is definitely good. it gave me a bit more room all around, and the bench improvements were absolutely critical.


So, getting back to my title, I keep wondering how much woodworkers actually use 2×4s or other dimensional lumber. The FWW “new fangled workbench” is made from them (awesome – this is what I want to build for myself at some point), they work great for assorted utility purposes – like lumber racks – and so on.

10 comments so far

View Loucarb's profile


2388 posts in 3444 days

#1 posted 01-08-2009 03:09 AM

I just finished making an open cabinet for my chop saw all 2×4 framed with plywood sides and back. In Chris Schwarz book of workbenches he uses nothing but dimensional lumber from local home centers.

View Tomcat1066's profile


942 posts in 3794 days

#2 posted 01-08-2009 04:35 AM

While they might not use it for fine woodworking type projects, there’s plenty of woodworkers who use dimensional lumber for shop projects. Hell, LJ had a contest where you could build anything…so long as it was out of a 2×4 ;)

-- "Give me your poor tools, your tired steel, your huddled masses of rust." Yep, I ripped off the Statue of Liberty. That's how I roll!

View gusthehonky's profile


130 posts in 3740 days

#3 posted 01-08-2009 04:44 AM

I’ve run across several examples on the computer where one 8’ length has been used solely for a project. From chairs to tables, results amazed me and were a really cool way to see how others could show off their skills and imagination.

-- Ciao, gth.

View Ryan Shervill's profile

Ryan Shervill

278 posts in 3811 days

#4 posted 01-08-2009 05:00 AM

We had a contest last year on how to use a 2X4

This is mine, Gary K actually built a BIRDCAGE out of a 2X4, and Stewart pulled off a real windsor chair!

If you look under the “contest” tab you can see all of the entries, it was a very cool contest, and peoples skills and imagination were really showcased.


-- Want to see me completely transform a house? Look here:

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3463 days

#5 posted 01-08-2009 06:20 PM

wow, some amazing stuff being done with 2×4s then. jeez.

I read this article here:

when using a 2×4 to build something, do you either let it equilibrate to your shop atmosphere for a long time and/or dry it further, let it do whatever warping it will, then re-mill it?

View LeeinEdmonton's profile


254 posts in 3580 days

#6 posted 01-09-2009 08:46 PM

I don’t throw anything away including used construction lumber consisting of 2×4’s, 6’s, & 8’s. The trick of course is like Aaron has stated. Namely allow them to acclimatise in your shop before machining. Even then, make sure your project joinery allows for excessive wood movement. Other than this there are lots of interesting projects that can be made using construction lumber.

-- Lee

View AaronK's profile


1506 posts in 3463 days

#7 posted 01-09-2009 08:53 PM

well, like that article states, pine actually has a low “moisture movement” coefficient (forget the right term!) – much less than say, oak. so once it has moved, it’s basically done.

I havnt been throwing anything away either… but I’m still leary of using this stuff for jigs and such…I guess with the necessary precautions i shouldnt be.

View bbqking's profile


328 posts in 3722 days

#8 posted 01-10-2009 03:05 AM

2×4’s rule !!! bbqKing.

-- bbqKing, Lawrenceville

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3933 days

#9 posted 01-19-2009 05:48 AM

With my limited budget and current learning curve, I tend to use dimensional lumber for a lot of stuff. In fact most of my projects have been built out of them. I would certainly not classify any of them as fine furniture. But I am thinking about a new desk based on some of that lumber. So we’ll see.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View jim1953's profile


2735 posts in 3840 days

#10 posted 01-19-2009 06:05 AM

I made my daughter a bed out of 2by4 I had to cut a lot of them down but it Looks nice they all was in a burn pile Iam always recycling

-- Jim, Kentucky

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