Two-by-four framing lumber is a common building material, used to frame houses and other large carpentry projects. It is not well-known, however, that the 2-by-4 can be used for a myriad of woodworking projects since they have a precise rectangular shape with sides sanded smooth. When using 2-by-4s as a building material, a world of possibilities exists for you to showcase your talents.
Make a sturdy workbench out of 2-by-4s. Use wood screws instead of nails since the gripping power of screws far exceeds that of nails. For the top, place cross slats to support the top firmly from underneath. Space these cross slats 1-foot apart. For the legs, screw 2-by-4s together to make 4-by-4 posts. Woodworker Michael Holigan recommends making a workbench out of 2-by-4s as well. While Mr. Holigan recommends using a 4-by-8 panel to make the top, you can make a top out of 2-by-4s, laying them side by side.
If you own a lathe, make wooden bowls out of 2-by-4s glued together. Cut 2-by-4s about 12 inches long, and glue them with carpenter's yellow glue until you have a large block measuring about 12 inches by 12 inches by 3 1/2-inches thick. Apply pressure with long bar clamps. Mount the large block in your lathe and turn out a bowl of your own design. Conversely, glue 2-by-4s along their short side to make a shallow dish about 1 1/2-inches thick.
Two by fours form excellent building materials to make rustic tables. For the top, glue them together with long bar clamps. For the legs, glue together to make a 4-by-4 square. The design possibilities are endless. Make coffee tables, dining room tables or even commercial tables for a rustic restaurant. After making a table, finish it with stain and two or three coats of clear polyurethane.
Make rustic chairs for a cabin or lodge out of 2-by-4s. Designs are readily available, and you can make deck chairs, lawn chairs or even dining room chairs. Sand all edges very smooth and finish with polyurethane. Woodworker Stewart Yorkshire made a Windsor-style chair out of 2-by-4s, using spokeshaves to make the legs octagonal in shape. To make the seat, he glued 2-by-4s together along their short face. To make the spokes along the back and sides, he used a spokeshave, plane and sandpaper to make them round. He finished the chair in a clear water-based finish. If you make a chair, finish with clear polyurethane or stain to your liking.