cutting lap joints in 2X4s...a lot of them

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Forum topic by startingfromscratch posted 07-06-2010 05:09 PM 11704 views 1 time favorited 7 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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69 posts in 3390 days

07-06-2010 05:09 PM

I’ve finally gotten around to putting up an easy lumber rack (as opposed to my overloaded saw horses). I’m attaching three 2X4s stretching from the joists in my basement to the floor and spaced out to handle 8 foot lumber. I’m attaching to those three levels of “shelve” pieces (perpendicular 14” 2×4 pieces) that folks say should be lap jointed. That’s 18 half laps I have to cut.

I don’t have a dado and don’t want to invest in one. I have a good table saw, a bandsaw with no permanent fence, and a good PC hand held router (and a piece of crap BD router table). How would you go about cutting a bunch as quickly as possible?

My plan is to build the little jig described here:

Anyone have any other better ideas? I guess I could cut the shelve pieces on the bandsaw (with a piece of wood clamped to the table). I could ask just cut them on the table saw and clean them up with a chisel. No idea how to do them in the long pieces except for the jig.


7 replies so far

View Sailor's profile


543 posts in 3462 days

#1 posted 07-06-2010 05:24 PM

That jig looks good to me, easy to build and foolproof to use. I would use the jig on the upright 2×4’s and go with the bandsaw for the rest.

How much lumber are you planning on stacking on each shelf? You don’t want to overload them and have them sag and break.

You stated that you want to support about 8’ lumber. Then I would space them at 3’ on center giving you a foot hanging off each end. I would be concerned about stacking to much lumber on these half lap joints if a half lap is all yoour planning on doing. There are many other ways that are stronger such as sandwiching the 2×4’s with a piece of 3/4” stock and maybe even putting some sort of triangle bracing on the support shelves.

Just a thought, you may not be loading enough on the shelves to matter. I can’t tell you how much weight it will hold, I would just stand back and say “That looks like it’s to much weight on those shelves.”

There are many lumber racks you can get ideas from on here.

-- Dothan, Alabama Check out my woodworking blog! Also my Youtube Channel's Facebook page

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

11059 posts in 3626 days

#2 posted 07-06-2010 08:01 PM

The jig you referenced will do the job. To make half laps, I use a similar jig only I just keep moving the jig about 1/4”, making several kerfs. Then I break out the slivers with a screwdriver.
As far as your rack is concerned, I would simply cut 14”X14” triangles from 3/4 ply and screw them to both sides of the 2X4s.
That will give you 10 1/2” of “shelf” space. If you want, set a 10 1/2” length of 2X4 between the ply wood triangles and tight to the rack 2X4 and screw and glue the triangles to that piece also.
Mine is built this way and I stack oak 4- 5 high with stickers. Its sturdy as heck!

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View startingfromscratch's profile


69 posts in 3390 days

#3 posted 07-06-2010 09:09 PM

Gene, hmmmm….problem is that I’m in basement with a low ceiling. My shelves are only spaced 13 1/4” from the bottom of one lateral 14”er to the top of the next and I only have three shelves. A 14×14 triangle would reduce me to two shelves.

Sounds like sturdy construction, though.

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 3181 days

#4 posted 07-06-2010 09:27 PM

If you want to use your table saw without a dado blade, you could insert a wedge between the blade and the arbor washer the other side of where the nut goes. This will cause the blade to wobble acting as a dado blade. The more acute the angle of the wedge the more the wobble will be. I know a old cabinet maker show me this trick worked well too.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View rickf16's profile


392 posts in 3779 days

#5 posted 07-06-2010 09:45 PM

If you have a table saw and a band saw I would make a kerf cut on the face side of the board to the proper depth , the set a temporary fence up on the band saw to make my final cut. Use scrap pieces first to get everything dialed in. Should go pretty quick this way. Just my 2.

-- Rick

View barryvabeach's profile


159 posts in 3241 days

#6 posted 07-07-2010 02:29 AM

Another approach is to use iron pipe instead of 2×4s as the support shelf. The two benefits are that you only have to drill a hole to insert the pipe, and the pipe will take up much less space than the 2×4 allowing you to have more shelves – though the overall weight is still limited by the 2×4 vertical members. I tried this using 2×4 as a free standing rack, and it bowed the 2×4 enough that I took off the lumber and sistered on additional 2×4’s. I have attached pics before I installed the pipes, and after I loaded it. Again, this was freestanding and that may have contributed to the sagging. It is about 6 feet tall and 8 feet long.

View startingfromscratch's profile


69 posts in 3390 days

#7 posted 07-07-2010 04:00 PM

That looks like a cool design barry, but that piping would break my budget (which is $0 and making due with what’s in the shop already!). I’m gonna go with the design in the top pic, and hope like hell I have enough lumber after a while to need to upgrade~

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