Is gluing 2x4's together smart???

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Forum topic by Craig Havran posted 11-01-2011 11:04 PM 9983 views 0 times favorited 10 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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Craig Havran

346 posts in 2032 days

11-01-2011 11:04 PM

Topic tags/keywords: 2x4 glue turning

I’m going to be turning a bunch of snowmen that are going to be painted and am trying to figure out the cheapest way of doing so. I’m thinking that buying standard 2×4’s, running it through a planer and gluing is going to be the most economical way to get a bottom base of around 4” (or slightly under). They will be painted if that helps. I just like to know as much as possible before i put a piece of spinning wood a couple feet from my face :-) If anybody has any better ideas, I’d love to hear them.

-- "There's plenty of time to read the instruction manual when you're laying in the hospital bed". - Dad

10 replies so far

View ETwoodworks's profile


92 posts in 2114 days

#1 posted 11-01-2011 11:10 PM

2×2x4’s would only get you 3”x3 1/2” blocks unplained could you use 4×4 cedar posts? Its a little more spendy but it would be alot less work.

-- Building quality in a throw away world.

View MrsN's profile


975 posts in 2947 days

#2 posted 11-01-2011 11:16 PM

The edges of a 2×4 are not square, they are rounded over a bit. so you won’t get the full 3 1/2 when you glue together, there will be a groove in the middle.
there are a variety of fence post materials available, pine and cedar. those might be a better choice.
as for gluing pieces together to turn, you can do that. there are many examples of that done on this site. I believe it is called segmented turning when the glue-ups look really cool.

-- ----- ----- --

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2489 days

#3 posted 11-01-2011 11:18 PM

Should work if you get KD (kiln dried) stock. Max thickness for 2x stock will be around 3” before planing. If you need something bigger glue in another piece.

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View Elizabeth's profile


814 posts in 2564 days

#4 posted 11-01-2011 11:39 PM

My local hardware store sells western red cedar fence posts, 8 foot 4×4 lengths for about $18. They jointed/planed beautifully and I’m using them (very slowly) in chunks for bandsaw boxes. Something like that might work well for you.

View AlbertaJim's profile


47 posts in 1850 days

#5 posted 11-01-2011 11:49 PM

Another option if you wanted different types of wood would be to buy short pieces of 12/4 and then dress it for turning.

-- My Boss was a carpenter

View HerbC's profile


1568 posts in 2280 days

#6 posted 11-02-2011 03:47 AM

Most 2×4s are kiln dried to 18% MC. At that point they are not dry enough to be stable in a glue up that you’re going to turn on the lathe. If you dry them further by letting them sit “stickered” in your shop environment or in your house they will dry out more and be better to work with.

Good Luck and…

Be Careful!


-- Herb, Florida - Here's why I close most messages with "Be Careful!"

View Craig Havran's profile

Craig Havran

346 posts in 2032 days

#7 posted 11-02-2011 04:12 AM

Wow. Thanks for all of the feedback. Thinking more about this I think I’m going to go my more expensive route and buy cedar 4×4’s. The time and number of clamps needed would become a factor. This knowledge will serve me down the road. Thank you all.

-- "There's plenty of time to read the instruction manual when you're laying in the hospital bed". - Dad

View SalvageCraft's profile


274 posts in 1947 days

#8 posted 11-02-2011 04:13 AM

Since they’re only 1.5” thick, the maximum cylinder size you could make with two 2×4s is 3”, assuming you have perfectly flat faces on the 2×4s. Why are you choosing 2×4s? Is your concern price or simplicity? How many are you making? Are these going to be indoors or outdoors?

A couple other options:
Buy a sheet of 3/4” MDF (or maybe even plywood), slice into 4” strips, glue these together and turn them
Use firewood or found wood
use 4×4 posts as mentioned above
use the 2×4s and just make the snow people smaller :)

I don’t completely agree with HerbC about the 2×4s being unsuitable for glue-ups due to moisture content. I have picked up a lot of 2×4s that are bone dry. With the size of your glue ups, there isn’t a lot of length for the pieces to warp along (assuming you cut the 2×4s to approximate length before the glue up). I believe pine (also spruce, Doug. Fir) is soft and pliant enough to stay where it’s glued unless there are wild humidity swings (outdoors).

Of course, if you are uncomfortable with any aspect of this, find a way to do it differently so that you feel safe.

-- Jesse --

View Loren's profile


8159 posts in 3069 days

#9 posted 11-02-2011 04:34 AM

The more 2×4s you glue together, the smarter you will become.

J.K. ;)

View CodyJames's profile


78 posts in 1827 days

#10 posted 11-02-2011 06:29 PM

I just glued a bunch of 2×6’s and then bolted them.. They are now table legs for my oversized Tim Taylorised workbench.


Well, I feal I r smarter eniwaiz!

Why not use “waterproof” glue, then you don’t have to worry about moisture content of the wood, which, I mean, unless you’re using swampwood, or live in a jungle, or the trucks just delivered it through a rainstorm? I’ve not ever seen wood glue not dry up. Not saying this isn’t possible, its absolutely possible to get a bad batch of glue(highly unlikely if you buy quality glues, but not unheard of). It’s more than likely that it was either not stirred and or shaken properly, or, moisture was allowed to enter the glue container SOMEHOW.

Not to mention that if you properly chuck the wood to your lathe, you shouldn’t have to worry about it flying apart to begin with, I’ve’ seen people using small shop vacs and pieces of double sided tape to hold their piece to the lathe, if that can hold, the glue will hold.

To test the piece, turn it past the point you feel is safe, if it doesn’t fly apart(obviously don’t stand to close near when you do this), you’re good to go, turn the RPM’s down and you’re set to work with confidence knowing your piece isn’t going to fly apart while you stand in front of it. Consider purchasing a face guard attachment for your lathe for future work, if you look up Powermatic the 3450b has a nice example of one. Also, consider getting yourself a full face shield.

Even NON-glued wood can fly apart, it’s a little scary for a second, but its not instantaneous, you can feel it, see it. If its going to fly apart, it will do so at the higher test speeds. Don’t panic if it does, 99% of the time it doesn’t even hurt. =)

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