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View AwlThat's profile

Do you trust a 2x4...

by AwlThat
posted 12-11-2018 04:20 PM


39 replies so far

View jonah's profile

jonah

2080 posts in 3812 days


#1 posted 12-11-2018 04:22 PM

I’ve never found what I’d describe as a “straight” 2×4 at the home center. I’ve found ones that are straight-ish, and that required digging through probably 30-40 boards to find one good one.

View AwlThat's profile

AwlThat

49 posts in 600 days


#2 posted 12-11-2018 04:27 PM

But even if the board was bent, how parallel do you think the faces are to each other?

Twisted is another story, but if it’s bent on one axis, how parallel do you think it is?

View jonah's profile

jonah

2080 posts in 3812 days


#3 posted 12-11-2018 04:34 PM

It’s probably pretty parallel. Certainly when it was cut at the mill it was parallel.

You might have better luck with something like 2×10s. A lot of 2×4s have the pith in them and so they end up cupping, twisting, and generally misbehaving. With a 2×10 you can rip the pith out and end up with two more stable boards in the end. You’ll pay a little more, but it may be worth it.

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

965 posts in 1732 days


#4 posted 12-11-2018 04:38 PM



You might have better luck with something like 2×10s.

- jonah


ive gotten some 2 by 10’s and 12’s that contained the pith but had a nice quatersawn outside of that area. seems i see tighter growth rings in the 10’s and 12’s,too.

View Monty151's profile

Monty151

83 posts in 354 days


#5 posted 12-11-2018 04:48 PM

Little known fact. This is the tree that Big Orange and Big Blue get their lumber from.

View Aj2's profile (online now)

Aj2

2497 posts in 2311 days


#6 posted 12-11-2018 05:33 PM

I found a perfect 2×4 once. I still remember that day it was the best day of my life.

-- Aj

View Bill White's profile

Bill White

5228 posts in 4473 days


#7 posted 12-11-2018 06:32 PM

Straight? The moment you bought it…..sure. The moment you got it home? NOT!

-- [email protected]

View AwlThat's profile

AwlThat

49 posts in 600 days


#8 posted 12-11-2018 06:35 PM



Straight? The moment you bought it…..sure. The moment you got it home? NOT!

- Bill White

Like a ripe banana at the grocery store, right?

View Manitario's profile

Manitario

2783 posts in 3396 days


#9 posted 12-11-2018 07:00 PM

The only time I use a 2×4 without first running it through my jointer and planer is if I’m framing.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View AwlThat's profile

AwlThat

49 posts in 600 days


#10 posted 12-11-2018 07:07 PM



The only time I use a 2×4 without first running it through my jointer and planer is if I m framing.

- Manitario

That’s great, if one has a planer and a jointer.

If you didn’t have those tools, in your experience, how close do you think you’d get to a square board if you just ripped it on your table saw?

View tomsteve's profile

tomsteve

965 posts in 1732 days


#11 posted 12-11-2018 07:16 PM



I found a perfect 2×4 once. I still remember that day it was the best day of my life.

- Aj2

doin some remodeling on a 60+ year old house?

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5542 posts in 2864 days


#12 posted 12-11-2018 07:25 PM

When you find a perfect 2×4, go buy a sheet of plywood it might be true to size also, if so, you’ve hit a grand slam.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

409 posts in 3595 days


#13 posted 12-11-2018 07:32 PM

The 2×4 that you buy from a home center may have been straight and parallel when it was cut. However, the log was green and will move as it dries.

-- Steve

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

1829 posts in 1921 days


#14 posted 12-11-2018 08:20 PM

I’ll trust a 2×4 to do lots of things but being straight & accurately dimensioned aren’t in the realm of possibility

View Mosquito's profile

Mosquito

9862 posts in 2805 days


#15 posted 12-11-2018 08:24 PM

Often times things like nots or checks will cause a 2×4 to not have parallel sides, so I’d say buy a hand plane to make one side a known straight, and then rip it on your table saw.

If I want square curners, I’ve done what others have suggested, and buy 2×10 or 2×12’s and rip them down. Typically on the band saw, because I’ve seen some pretty nasty 2x’s cut on table saws immediately try to close up the cut on the blade. At the very least, don’t do it with out a riving knife or tall splitter

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - http://www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods - http://www.TheModsquito.com

View Aj2's profile (online now)

Aj2

2497 posts in 2311 days


#16 posted 12-11-2018 10:46 PM

Awlthat your going about things the hard way.
Get a jointer and a planer or the things you will be very limited. It’s also a lot safer ripping jointed boards on a table saw.
Construction lumber is for building houses and general carpentry. It can be used to make fine pieces but it will take some time for you to build the skills.
So don’t get in a rush. Having the right machines is good fun. All the goofy workarounds that YouTube has to offer are not realistic and plain silly.

Here’s my proof Douglas fir reclaimed from a house build in 1920.

-- Aj

View AwlThat's profile

AwlThat

49 posts in 600 days


#17 posted 12-11-2018 11:04 PM



Awlthat your going about things the hard way.

I would love to have those tools. I understand the limitations of not having those tools. At the moment, I don’t have the space or the budget. I’m just getting started.

Knowing there is a lot of experience in this forum, I was curious about the experiences y’all have had with store bought 2×4’s. I’m trying to learn something I don’t know because I don’t have the experience.

I used to frequent an acoustic guitar forum a few years back and it was amazing how some people would say that you’re limited if you’re playing a cheap guitar. Of course, those people had a beautiful home with a dedicated music room and a dozen expensive guitars hanging on the wall. What they lacked was their memory for when they first started. They were affectionately referred to as “cork sniffers”.

I mean no disrespect or offense, but I know I’m limited, so tell me how I can get by until I can acquire the things that will eliminate those limitations. That’s why I’m here. To learn.

View Aj2's profile (online now)

Aj2

2497 posts in 2311 days


#18 posted 12-11-2018 11:18 PM

We all started with limited budget and built from there. I don’t mean to discourage you from trying.
For the most part there’s no need to joint and plane construction lumber. Its just used as is. :(

-- Aj

View Mosquito's profile

Mosquito

9862 posts in 2805 days


#19 posted 12-11-2018 11:54 PM



I would love to have those tools. I understand the limitations of not having those tools. At the moment, I don t have the space or the budget. I m just getting started.

Knowing there is a lot of experience in this forum, I was curious about the experiences y all have had with store bought 2×4 s. I m trying to learn something I don t know because I don t have the experience.

I used to frequent an acoustic guitar forum a few years back and it was amazing how some people would say that you re limited if you re playing a cheap guitar. Of course, those people had a beautiful home with a dedicated music room and a dozen expensive guitars hanging on the wall. What they lacked was their memory for when they first started. They were affectionately referred to as “cork sniffers”.

I mean no disrespect or offense, but I know I m limited, so tell me how I can get by until I can acquire the things that will eliminate those limitations. That s why I m here. To learn.

- AwlThat

+1, and well said.

Funny thing is, after my planer needed adjustment last night, and I ended up not making it better (the opposite of better), I went back to thinking how much simpler my woodworking was when I only had hand planes lol

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - http://www.youtube.com/MosquitoMods - http://www.TheModsquito.com

View sras's profile

sras

5200 posts in 3642 days


#20 posted 12-12-2018 12:31 AM

I have squared up framing lumber on my table saw. The important thing is to be safe. If the following tips don’t feel comfortable and safe, don’t do them. Use a handplane or chisel if the table saw methods don’t feel safe.

Pieces that are 1 to 4 feet long are much easier to handle than 8 feet long (or longer). Cut your framing lumber down to a manageable length whenever possible.

Remove small amounts of wood and use multiple passes. It gets easier as the wood becomes straighter.

If the framing lumber is bowed run the piece such that only 2 points touch the fence and don’t let it shift. If the bow is longer than the fence I use a straight piece that is as long as your framing lumber piece. Reference the framing lumber to the straight piece and run them both through.

If there is twist, force the board to sit on the table rocked one way and don’t let it wobble.

-- Steve - Impatience is Expensive

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5355 posts in 2822 days


#21 posted 12-12-2018 12:39 AM

I Remember starting out, that’s exactly why I urge you to get a jointer and planer.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

1898 posts in 2007 days


#22 posted 12-12-2018 02:05 AM

HD near me carries a line ‘premium’ kiln dried 2x ‘whitewood’ lumber. Not cheap, but tolerable premium price if you want wood working lumber and not framing studs. Moisture level is usually below !0% (usually 8-9%) and large percentage of stack will have nice straight grain, and minimal knots. Only have to sort through a few boards to get usable boards. Lumber is straight enough, can remove rounded corners on long side with table saw, and use them as is.

My problem is the cost. Paying $2.7 for stick of lumber is expensive ($5+ bdft). I can get premium 8/4 alder (skip planned) locally for ~$3 bdft, or 1/2 cost of softwood from HD. Can also buy 8/4 red oak, soft maple, poplar, hickory, and ash; all for less than $5 bdft. So unless I’m in hurry and hardwood store is closed, I avoid using 2×4 framing lumber for wood working projects.

PS – Maybe we are lucky here in AZ: but most wood suppliers offer s3s & s4s milling service for reasonable cost ($1-$1.5 bdft adder); so even without owning a jointer/planer it is easy to get dimension hardwood more affordably than HD’s ‘premium’ 2×4.

YMMV

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View jonah's profile

jonah

2080 posts in 3812 days


#23 posted 12-12-2018 02:42 AM

You don’t have to spend much to get quality boards. It could be as easy as making a friend locally who has a jointer and planer and who will let you use them in exchange for a six pack of decent beer.

Try a local hardwood dealer or woodworking store and ask around if there’s anyone they can think of who might let you use their tools.

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5355 posts in 2822 days


#24 posted 12-12-2018 04:47 AM


You don t have to spend much to get quality boards. It could be as easy as making a friend locally who has a jointer and planer and who will let you use them in exchange for a six pack of decent beer.

Try a local hardwood dealer or woodworking store and ask around if there s anyone they can think of who might let you use their tools.

- jonah

You loan your toosl out for beer to someone who has never used a planer or jointer? You are a pretty nice guy.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View GrantA's profile

GrantA

1829 posts in 1921 days


#25 posted 12-12-2018 05:07 AM



You loan your toosl out for beer to someone who has never used a planer or jointer? You are a pretty nice guy.

- AlaskaGuy


I suspect the majority of us would show someone the ropes and let them run lumber while we oversee the operation from the stool with said beer in hand!

View AlaskaGuy's profile

AlaskaGuy

5355 posts in 2822 days


#26 posted 12-12-2018 05:16 AM

You loan your toosl out for beer to someone who has never used a planer or jointer? You are a pretty nice guy.

- AlaskaGuy

I suspect the majority of us would show someone the ropes and let them run lumber while we oversee the operation from the stool with said beer in hand!

- GrantA


Not me, I’d do it for him.

Edit to add: I wouldn’t ask for beer either.

-- Alaskan's for Global warming!

View fuigb's profile

fuigb

563 posts in 3471 days


#27 posted 12-12-2018 05:17 AM

@ OP…

Some 2x’s are reliable but most are a mess. Yes, a shop full of tools is better than a skeleton collection but don’t sweat that: if you stay with woodworking you’ll eventually fill in the gaps. As suggested above, mixed in amonsgst the clucking, is a reasonable suggestion for upping your game: “clear” and appearance-grade offerings from the big boxes. But if you insist upon construction-grade dimensional stock then by all means give it a shot. You may get lucky, but whether or not you do you will be learning and so achieving incremental progress.

-- - Crud. Go tell your mother that I need a Band-aid.

View AwlThat's profile

AwlThat

49 posts in 600 days


#28 posted 12-12-2018 12:09 PM

Thanks for the good information, CaptainKlutz. I assumed there must be places that sell decent lumber, I just need to find them. San Antonio is a big town. I’m sure it won’t be hard.

Jonah, I had the same thoughts. We have a Woodcraft store in town and that was going to be my first place to ask around for people to meet. I’m sure there’s a Meet Up group around here as well. That can be a bit like Craigslist in that the type of people you can encounter may not be your cup of tea.

To be clear, I wasn’t being insistent on using construction lumber, I was just asking about it. I’ve received some pretty good advice and I am very appreciative of that.

View AntHillFarms's profile

AntHillFarms

10 posts in 343 days


#29 posted 12-12-2018 12:40 PM

You can get a half decent hand plane for pretty cheap. You can use extra fine sandpaper (1000 and up) to sharpen your blade. Since you don’t have a jointer you use a hand plane to joint an edge. Then you can reference that off of your fence and cut the other edge on the table saw.

-- David, Ant Hill Farms

View CaptainKlutz's profile

CaptainKlutz

1898 posts in 2007 days


#30 posted 12-12-2018 01:06 PM

AwlThat When I need to find hardwood supplies with zero background, start with 2 online resources:

1) map.google.com
Looking at San Antonio search results for 'hardwood lumber' I find 4 full line hardwood suppliers at top of list.
A search using ‘Saw mill’ returns a number of different folks. Couple appear to be urban lumber sawyers, recycling landscape trees into slabs. One is a member on LJ.

2) Wood Mizer – Find a local Sawyer
The find a local sawyer page is probably not as useful for folks just starting out, and without planer/jointer to deal with rough sawn lumber. But buying from sawyer is usually cheaper than buying in retail/wholesale market.

Big challenge with WWW online search for hardwood lumber is it can be hard to determine if outlet sells to amateur wood working crowd or is strictly whole sale for commercial mfg operations. So it takes phone calls, and visits to learn which suppliers are a good match for your needs.

Another fantastic resource is local wood working, wood turning, or wood carving social clubs. The club members will be able to quickly help you filter out the long list provided by online search engines. Best place to find the clubs in your area is to visit Wood Craft or Rockler stores, as they cater to DIY wood workers.

If want to poll LJ community for sources, start a new thread. There are others with similar wood finding challenges.

Best Luck.

-- I'm an engineer not a woodworker, but I can randomly find useful tools and furniture inside a pile of lumber!

View jutsFL's profile

jutsFL

191 posts in 354 days


#31 posted 12-12-2018 01:51 PM

...Im afraid that I wouldnt really trust any as parallel off the shelf. You can easily make a straight line ripping jig with just a cheap piece of melamine shelf – I added some non slip padding so I wouldnt need to clamp the board to mine

A quick you tube search will get you started.

That Will get you very close to parallel for the width of the 2×4 after just 2 cuts on the table saw.

As for the parallel in the top and bottom planes, it seems as though you should be able to use the same concept as above, just with the 2×4 on its side, to rip one face flat – you will need an already sqare piece of stock to run against your fence, set the blade just high enough to rip it all (about 3.75in), and reapeat on the other side using your now flat flace as reference.

This should get you fairly square. And for no more than the cost of the shelf, matting, and square stock. Likely under 25 bucks total.

This is my best option on the limited supply/budget. And , again, it wont be perfect… But it SHOULD be more than sufficint given the method.

-- I've quickly learned that being a woodworker isn't about making flawless work, rather it's fixing all the mistakes you made so that it appears flawless to others! Jay - FL

View therealSteveN's profile

therealSteveN

3916 posts in 1087 days


#32 posted 12-12-2018 02:54 PM

When I was a lot younger I wasted time on 2×4 and trying to get even basic portable workbenches and stuff, with hopes they would stay somewhat square just through the completion of whatever jib I was working on. Never had any constants in them.

What I will suggest is if you do want to try this sort of thing, that 2×4 just plain sux. 2×6 sux a little less. 2×8, 10, 12 can be ripped down for parts and you can almost expect them to stay ok, more than half the time. The bigger stuff is the better grade of the 2x stuff, and it is far more stable than the trash they make 2×4’s out of.

-- Think safe, be safe

View DBDesigns's profile

DBDesigns

232 posts in 511 days


#33 posted 12-12-2018 03:08 PM

Others above have suggested wider boards and I agree but let me make one more suggestion. Consider yellow pine instead of the “whitewood” that HD and Lowes sell. Whitewood is usually spruce and it is fast growth soft lumber intended for carpentry not fine woodworking.

I have a life long love affair with yellow pine. It is harder, stronger, and straighter than the other construction grade lumbers. I always buy it in wide boards and mill it to size. It also finishes up a lot nicer because the knots are tighter.

Plus it smells great while you are milling it.
Just my 2 centavos.

-- I remember when Grateful wasn't Dead

View trhoppe's profile

trhoppe

9 posts in 323 days


#34 posted 12-12-2018 04:44 PM

If you have a table saw with a perfectly square miter slot to the blade, spend $50 building this ($45 for 2 clamps and $5 for the MDF) and you have a jointer for the thing sides: https://youtu.be/EhmoAqUZUnc?t=182

To deal with squaring up the wide side, you can either use a lunchbox planer with a leveling sled, or since it’s just a 2×4, I’d be ok putting it vertical on the newly perfectly flat side, clamping it and using your jointer for the long side too.

I’ve done this with great results, but I’m not building super duper fine furniture. If I were, I’d have a real jointer, but until then, this is IMO perfectly great and acceptable results for hobbyists

View Will's profile

Will

18 posts in 2521 days


#35 posted 12-12-2018 04:51 PM


I mean no disrespect or offense, but I know I m limited, so tell me how I can get by until I can acquire the things that will eliminate those limitations. That s why I m here. To learn.

- AwlThat

I don’t have a joiner either. To get things straight that are less than 6’ I use my 6’ level with a “toe” attached to the end that I use to push pieces thru the table saw. Put the bowed side against the level and run it thru the saw and you’ll have a pretty good edge. Flip the board over and cut the bow off. I used that method to make this table.

-- If it wasn't for the last minute, nothing would get done.

View TheFridge's profile

TheFridge

10859 posts in 1999 days


#36 posted 12-12-2018 05:11 PM

Construction lumber sucks. It can work but the MC will still be high as giraffe anatomical parts.

Small space and small budget? I’d go handplanes.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View AwlThat's profile

AwlThat

49 posts in 600 days


#37 posted 12-12-2018 07:02 PM

I appreciate all the responses. I just knew I would get this kind of help here.

I like the idea of ripping wider boards. Looking at the prices just at HD, it looks like I’d be saving money by ripping one 2×12 into 3 boards compared to buying 3 2×4’s, and I’d get better results.

I have no experience hand planing and I don’t own any, but I can imagine the satisfaction I’d get doing it by hand and being successful at it.

I’m not looking for precise results, as I’m only building a workbench, but I’m looking forward to the project from a learning perspective. And, if it turns out nice, I won’t mind showing it off. ;-)

View jonah's profile

jonah

2080 posts in 3812 days


#38 posted 12-12-2018 07:10 PM

You won’t get three usable boards from a 2×12. You’re better off with a 2×10 and trying to get two usable boards from it. Lots of 2×12s will have pith or other weirdness in them, and you can’t cut the pith out and still have the boards you need. You can, however, do that with a 2×10.

View stefang's profile

stefang

16752 posts in 3847 days


#39 posted 12-12-2018 08:56 PM

2X4s are mainly made for house framing so being perfectly parallel isn’t usually a problem. Of course it is a problem if you are making something that requires precision, which mean planing and if you have one straight edge and one straight face you true it up in the table saw without further ado.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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