Single 2x4 and Not Just Any Box Entry

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Project by Rich_S posted 01-28-2008 07:45 AM 56836 views 37 times favorited 51 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my entry for the single, multi-purposed 2×4 contest. This box is constructed from one construction grade 2×4x8’ SPF (Southern Pine Fir) that was on sale for $1.97 at our local big box lumber yard. There were several funny things about the 2×4. First, it wasn’t straight. It had about a 1” gradual bow over its entire length and had been passed up many times as others had picked through the lumber pile. Despite the bow it was nearly perfect. It only had one little knot, which was soild and tight, plus it was this creamy white color, not the typical yellow hue. I took it home and started on the plans. I had this concept in mind for a while, but for a much larger piece of furniture so I had to scale the idea way down. Once I had figured the overall shape/size, I then worked out a cutting diagram for the 2×4 to see if I could really get all the parts. It turned out short, so I had to scale my concept down even further. I ended up rescaling the whole idea once again when I found out my 2×4 which should have been 1-1/2” x 3-1/2” was really 1/8” less than that in each dimension. Once I knew I could make it work then I started cutting/resawing/planing/sanding to get the basic parts. The legs are a tapered bent lamination consisting of 4 layers that taper from just strong of 3/16 to 1/8” over thier length. I accomplished the taper by using my 16” disc sander and a fence I constructed. I made two bending/clamping forms from MDF and lined them with cork. I used plastic resin glue to adhere the lamination layers. The sides of the case are glued up panels that were resawn and bookmatched and are approx 3/8” thick. The back panel is bookmatched also, but is only approx 3/16” thick. The base and top are roughly 3/8” thick. and were glued up bookmatches as well. The door rails and stiles are 1” wide and just under 1/2” thick. The door panel is just strong of 1/8” thick and was bookmatched as well and is captured into the door rails/stiles by a 1/8” wide by 3/8” deep dado. The flairs on the top were shaped using a small panel raising bit in a router table. The flairs and the main part of the top were joined with a 1/8” spline, 1/4” wide cut from some thin strips left over during resawing. The sides of the flairs taper at 20+ degrees to continue the flow of the legs. The strecthers between the legs are 3/8” thick and roughly 1/2” wide. The legs and the door panel were colored using a combination of blonde shellac tinted with TransTint Bordeaux color. I wanted to mimic the deep red color of Bloodwood. The entire case was then sprayed with several coats of Watco gloss laquer. All that was left over from the 2×4 is a single little 1”x1” square about 1/16” thick along with a bunch of planer shavings and sawdust. I ended up working in millimeters most of the project due to the size and thickness of the joints. The overall size of the box is 17-3/4” tall by 15” wide x 8” deep. This was a fun project that really kept me on my toes since there was no room to make a mistake or make test pieces to cut.

-- Rich, Madison WI

51 comments so far

View gizmodyne's profile


1780 posts in 4112 days

#1 posted 01-28-2008 07:55 AM

Great design. Great work.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View 's profile

593 posts in 3994 days

#2 posted 01-28-2008 08:10 AM

Wow! Amazing what you saw inside a humble 2×4. Great luck on both of the contests… because you are entering it in both, aren’t you?

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4011 days

#3 posted 01-28-2008 09:42 AM

Pretty cool! Nice design.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View YorkshireStewart's profile


1130 posts in 3924 days

#4 posted 01-28-2008 11:08 AM

Amazing that this came from the 2×4 Rich. A marvellous achievement in what’s turning out to be a really great competition.

-- Res severa verum gaudium - True pleasure is a serious business.

View rikkor's profile


11295 posts in 3897 days

#5 posted 01-28-2008 12:16 PM

Fantastic! When this is over I hope someone puts together a slide show of all the projects. I think it would be jaw-dropping.

View Sawdust2's profile


1466 posts in 4110 days

#6 posted 01-28-2008 12:26 PM

Not only was it construction grade 2×4 it was everyone else’s reject!

This comes close to making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

-- No piece is cut too short. It was meant for a smaller project.

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 3961 days

#7 posted 01-28-2008 12:47 PM

A very impressive piece of work. It’s beautiful the size it is and I can imagine how impressive it would be at full scale. Very cool.

-- Working at Woodworking

View shaun's profile


360 posts in 3928 days

#8 posted 01-28-2008 01:17 PM

and the bar gets raised again. Nice work Rich!

-- I've cut that board three times and it's still too short!

View Les Hastings's profile

Les Hastings

1305 posts in 3796 days

#9 posted 01-28-2008 02:11 PM

Boy who needs exotic lumber anymore, lets all just use 2×4’S, Great work and design,,,,,EXCELLANT!!!

-- Les, Wichita, Ks. (I'd rather be covered in saw dust!)

View MsDebbieP's profile


18615 posts in 4183 days

#10 posted 01-28-2008 02:14 PM


I’m picturing the misfit 2×4 waiting and waiting and waiting to be selected and taken home to be made into something. I see its sad reaction as it is tossed aside, over and over and over again.. And then the pride it felt when it was finally chosen and taken home. I can hear it saying “I am going to give 120% to this project. I’m going to be the best 2×4 there ever was.” You have done it proud!! Stunning.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3844 days

#11 posted 01-28-2008 02:47 PM

The design of the box is just great and the staining/finishing work is stunning. As I have said with each of these projects- I will never look at a 2×4 in the same light again.

Kudos for the posting. This is really a beautiful project.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Critterman's profile


600 posts in 3832 days

#12 posted 01-28-2008 02:52 PM

You saved it! That little misfit 2X4 so sad in the pile of better lumber at the big box store. You brought it home and gave is a beautiful new life as a stunning new box that all the other 2X4’s envied. “Sniff” What a wonderful story. “LMAO” Seriously a fantastic design and you have great insight to see a use for an old bent 2X4 like that, not to mention the planning and great execution. Great entry.

-- Jim Hallada, Chesterfield, VA

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 3985 days

#13 posted 01-28-2008 03:02 PM

Outstanding! Excellent design and resourcefulness. this should be a winner.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

View SPalm's profile


5320 posts in 3904 days

#14 posted 01-28-2008 03:05 PM

Truly a fantastic job.
I am humbled by your craftsmanship and the finish is extraordinaire.

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Popintraining's profile


110 posts in 3860 days

#15 posted 01-28-2008 03:13 PM

Unbelievable, that’s just beautiful

-- Illegitimis nil carborundum - Don't let the bastards grind you down

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