2x4 lumber is very cheap and widely available at any lumber yard or home improvement store. It is the most common building material for residential homes. It is inside our walls as studs every 16 inches. And we used to look at it as something rough, best case scenario suitable for some outdoor furniture, a workbench or "rustic Barnhouse" style.

Let's build something nice that you can bring to your house and not being kicked by your wife or husband.

How to choose lumber

As you all know my home improvement store of choice is Home Depot. The one thing I do not understand is why HD keeps its lumber carts outside and not where I need them - in the lumber yard. Lowes always have several carts there. And in the morning they are all lined up ready to be used. But let's not get carried away by lumber cart policiesWe need some 2x4s and it does not matter where you get them.

Although we are going to cut our lumber we still want it to be straight. I usually hand-pick every board even if I need 100 of them. Take a look at the board from one end to another with one eye closed like you are aiming with the rifle and you can see if it is straight or not.

As you see in the picture there are a lot of things that can go wrong with the board. So watch out for these basic imperfections. Sometimes the whole palette can be damaged. In that case don't be shy ask the store associate to open or get another one for you to choose from.

We also do not want a lot of knots or rough edges on our boards. In general, just try to choose the best boards from the palette. If the boards are heavier than others that means they are not dry and we also do not want them. The dry ones are lighter. Try to lift a wet pressure treated 2x4 it is way heavier than the regular one. And we will leave it for the outdoor projects when we need that extra protection from weather elements.

Now, when we are sure that our boards are straight and dry we can bring them to the shop (garage/basement/living room). And move to the next step.


How to build a Console table

Our first 2x4 project is a Console table. It is perfect for the foyer or hallway. You can get about the same table at Home Depot for $126+tax. Our build is just $30.

 

Here is a pretty simple but yet durable design which you can use even for a dining table build.

Shopping list:

1. 6 2x4

2. 16 1/4 lag bolts with washers

3. Glue

4. Your preferred type of finish (I like darker colors so for that table I'm using )

 

I did not draw a detailed plan because it is an easy build. But we still need to figure out our cut list. The most complicated part is the connection of the legs. The way they connected will determine the dimensions of the frame. For that table, we could use pocket holes, dowel joinery or even mortise and tenon joints. But I wanted to be able to transport the table so for that purpose we will make a kind of joinery that is used on regular dining tables where legs are attached to the frame with lag bolts. 

 

So let's figure out our cut list. We will need 4 pieces of wood for the sides of the frame, 4 pieces for the lag bolts, legs and tabletop. Let's start with the tabletop. For the tabletop, we will use 6 boards 1.5 in by 0.75. Because we are ripping 2x4s we will go with 6 boards 3 inches wide. The actual size of 2x4 is 1.5x3.5 inches so in order to get square edges, we will trim the boards 0.5 inches from both sides. When laminated (glued together) the tabletop will be 18 inches wide. So we'll trim an inch from each side. Our table top is 48 inches long so we need to cut our 8ft boards in half. 

So we will rip 8 feet long board in half. That will give us 2 8 footers 0.75 inches thick. And cut them to 48 inches each. That way one 2x4 will give us 4 boards that we can use.

How to laminate wood

To glue the boards together we need glue and clamps. Clamps can get pretty expensive and there is a chance that you do not have them. The cheapest pipe clamps I found are from Harbor Freight and they cost around $6. Keep in mind that you will need to get several pieces of pipe (one for each clamp) to make them work. The total price for a 24-inch clamp is about $10-12 considering that you are getting a 10ft pipe (0.5 inches in diameter) for around $20. We need 4 clamps for our table so it is $40-50 in clamps.

Ok, we had some fun with the clamps now it is time to get back to our table.

Glue the boards for the table top to each other and set the clamps. While this is drying we can proceed with the base. Let's have one more look at the plans we have. I hope you got the general idea of the build. But just in case let's go over it again but this time with all the dimensions.

The table leg is 1.5x1.5 inches, the frame boards are 0.75 inches thick and 1.5 inches wide. From the outside of the leg to the frame board I left 0.25 inches and on the inside 0.5 inches. The tabletop overhangs 0.5 inches. That will make the frame boards 4 inches shorter than the top: 44 and 12 inches.

I went to Home Depot and picked up the lumber we need. But on my back it started to rain so the 2x4s got wet in the bed of my truck. As soon as they are dry we start the build. So come back for the second part in couple of days.