(psssssst...wanna see what I made from a 2X4?)

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Project by Ryan Shervill posted 01-31-2008 03:39 PM 216831 views 109 times favorited 167 comments Add to Favorites Watch

About two weeks into this contest, I started to realize that the only shot I had at placing well was to pull off something that was “impossible” to do with a 2X4. Well…I did it.

Every source I could find said that softwoods can’t be steam bent, and there were a few attempts here by other LJ’s that seemed to back up that position. I spent two weeks working on ways to get this wood to bend, throwing conventional wisdom out the window and trying everything I could come up with. After far too many failed attempts, surrounded by broken, soggy, split and burnt strips of 2X4, I was about to throw in the towel and concede that it couldn’t be done. Some words of encouragement from fellow LJ’s took me from “I’m NOT doing this anymore” to “Well…I’ll give it one more shot”. Thank you for that.

I love organic and natural looking shapes in furniture, and had a vision in my head for a while of a side table that looked to be made up of cattail reed leaves. This contest was the perfect chance to build it. After a couple of studs went into the burn barrel, I found a 2X4 in my basement wall (really) that had knots down only one side, and it was there…not doing anything…so……out came the crowbar! Knot-free framing lumber is just not a reality up here I’m afraid….believe me, I looked….and looked….then looked some more.
I don’t like to use stains on wood (even a 2X4), but I wanted some contrast between the top and legs, so to get a darker amber tone the finish for the “legs” I used 7 coats of tung oil, rubbed out with 0000 steel wool between coats. The finish for the top is more coats of poly than I can count over a shellac sealer, Rubbed out to 2000 grit then buffed. I tried to capture the depth of the finish in the pics, but I’m not a great photographer I’m afraid.


The “leaves” intertwine to lock the table together, and it is surprisingly stable. By positioning the inner layers just right, I could tension the straight-grained leaves in such a way that they locked each-other in place.


Anyway, this project met the objectives I had set out at the beginning: Experiment, build something natural looking (that doesn’t look anything like a 2X4!), figure out how to steam bend softwood around a 4” radius, and most importantly….build something purely for the sake of building it.

Thanks for looking!


-- Want to see me completely transform a house? Look here:

167 comments so far

View SPalm's profile


5338 posts in 5379 days

#1 posted 01-31-2008 03:42 PM

Ehh Gads! That is fantastic. You da Man!

-- -- I'm no rocket surgeon

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 5436 days

#2 posted 01-31-2008 03:54 PM

Thanks for showing. This 2×4 thing is absolutely amazing and this table just continues that. It is a beautiful table. Very nice.

-- Working at Woodworking

View DaytonB's profile


154 posts in 5363 days

#3 posted 01-31-2008 04:00 PM

spectacular! in form, fuction and design
amazing, thanks for sharing Ryan

View CaptnA's profile


116 posts in 5310 days

#4 posted 01-31-2008 04:01 PM

Wow… how nice!
great artistry~

-- CaptnA - "When someone hurts you, write it in the sand so the winds of forgiveness will scatter the memory... "

View Dana's profile


73 posts in 5267 days

#5 posted 01-31-2008 04:05 PM

Wow Absolutely Stunning! I’m speechless,....and speechless is usually something I am not :)
Great Job!

-- Dana,Texas

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5715 days

#6 posted 01-31-2008 04:22 PM

Ohhh, man….my head is hurting just thinking about what 2×4 project to vote for!

I think this has to be my favorite so far, but I must say that this contest has brought out more talent and imagination than I ever expected, even from this very talented and imaginative group.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View mot's profile


4928 posts in 5533 days

#7 posted 01-31-2008 04:26 PM

Holy 2×4!

-- You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. (Plato)

View Chris Davis's profile

Chris Davis

1560 posts in 5479 days

#8 posted 01-31-2008 04:39 PM

Makes me want to rip my wall out. Great job.

-- Watch live video from our shop.!current-projects/c3c1

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5811 days

#9 posted 01-31-2008 04:45 PM

Just stunning!

View gene's profile


2184 posts in 5380 days

#10 posted 01-31-2008 04:47 PM

Hay! Ryan,
Amazing job! Way to go! I’m impressed!
God bless

-- Gene, a Christian in Virginia

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 5518 days

#11 posted 01-31-2008 04:48 PM

Man, that is a real nice piece of craftmanship!


-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5824 days

#12 posted 01-31-2008 04:51 PM

Well, if my projects failure had done nothing but help drive you complete this, then I consider my efforts a resounding success! This table is fantastic! Well done!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View Kerry's profile


162 posts in 5287 days

#13 posted 01-31-2008 05:04 PM

Raise the bar, hah! I think you just put the bar into orbit! This is just too cool. And inspiring.

Note1 to self: don’t quit projects when the going gets hard.
Note2 to self: when running low on wood – dismantle the house.

Excellent project, and wonderful craftsmanship!


-- Alberta, Canada

View Mario's profile


907 posts in 5548 days

#14 posted 01-31-2008 05:12 PM

WOW that thing is awesome. Beautiful work. WOW.

-- Hope Never fails

View Thos. Angle's profile

Thos. Angle

4444 posts in 5459 days

#15 posted 01-31-2008 05:16 PM

My goodness, Ryan. This is really pushing the envelope! I have to admit I didn’t think something like this was possible. I can’t be long until FWW just prints blogs and projects from Lumber Jocks. Unbelievable.

-- Thos. Angle, Jordan Valley, Oregon

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