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Shop Furniture - Frame with 2x4’s or Birch Plywood

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Forum topic by tommyc325 posted 07-06-2020 04:29 AM 484 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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tommyc325

74 posts in 2161 days


07-06-2020 04:29 AM

Hi Everyone

Looking to build some shop furniture and looking for input.

Items Being Built:
Miter Station
Mobile Tool Chest
Flip Top Table (planer and joiner)

(All items would be joined with Glue and Pocket Holes)

I’m trying to figure out what material would be best for creating frames for these items, 2×4’s or Plywood.

I’m looking for strength and low cost.

What do you think would be best


9 replies so far

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

264 posts in 402 days


#1 posted 07-06-2020 05:00 AM

I moved into a new shop last August and I started off using 2x material to build open frames…. Then, filling in with a bunch of drawers, and some shelves. I’m kinda regretting that a little now.

I do like building basic cabinets out of plywood for a couple reasons. It saves space between drawers or cabinets and it’s a heck of a lot easier to level up! I’ve been doing them basically frameless… I’ve used several different kinds of plywood, everything from CDX to baltic birch. I build my drawers out of MDF, and have them a touch loose in the openings, with rounded corners and waxed bottoms. Might eventually replace it all with something fancy? But, i doubt it.

So, now I have a mix… and I definitely like the cabinet style builds better.

I think the 2x material was cheaper to build the basic frame, so it did get me up and running again. But, I should’ve gone with even CDX or something, as it would have just made life easier from the beginning.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View EugdOT's profile

EugdOT

315 posts in 1360 days


#2 posted 07-06-2020 05:02 AM

You might want to use both materials depending on the weight and size of the weights the cabinets or work surface is supporting or carrying.

View Redoak49's profile

Redoak49

4802 posts in 2794 days


#3 posted 07-06-2020 11:40 AM

Using 2 x type material can be very frustrating as it warps and moves. I use a good grade of 3/4” plywood like Aruaco Ply for tool stands and cabinets.

View Tony1212's profile

Tony1212

438 posts in 2540 days


#4 posted 07-06-2020 01:02 PM

When I started woodworking, I made a lot of stuff with 2x material. That stuff is all gone now and replaced with plywood cabinets. Except for my workbench which does not have any cabinetry in it – just a couple shelves.

I found that when enclosing a 2×4 frame, I would have to cut out corners to fit around the frame, and my drawers had to be thinner to accommodate the framing. It’s much easier to just glue and screw the plywood together and not have to worry about working around the framing.

I would mainly use 2x frames for tables that will have a lot of pounding on them. And maybe for cheap shelving sides.

-- Tony, SW Chicago Suburbs

View bondogaposis's profile

bondogaposis

5804 posts in 3156 days


#5 posted 07-06-2020 01:29 PM

Using 2×4s for furniture is way overkill. You are not supporting a roof here. Simple plywood construction is all that is needed for sturdy and durable cabinets.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View MrRon's profile

MrRon

5925 posts in 4048 days


#6 posted 07-06-2020 09:41 PM

You usually need to combine plywood with dimensional lumber. Joining plywood at corners needs solid lumber in the corner to attach the plywood to. I usually use 2×2 framing covered by 1/2” plywood. I don’t like attaching plywood to plywood at corner joints using screws, as de-lamination can happen.

View Axis39's profile

Axis39

264 posts in 402 days


#7 posted 07-07-2020 12:22 AM



You usually need to combine plywood with dimensional lumber. Joining plywood at corners needs solid lumber in the corner to attach the plywood to. I usually use 2×2 framing covered by 1/2” plywood. I don t like attaching plywood to plywood at corner joints using screws, as de-lamination can happen.

- MrRon

I would actually disagree with this. Cabinets are made without dimensional lumber all the time. I’ve never needed 2x lumber for the hundreds (thousands maybe?) of cabinets I’ve built. I’ve also never seen a purchased cabinet have 2x reinforcement in the corners.

In a shop, when you gang a couple together you gain all kinds of strength and stability. Add a top, and it’s even more rock solid.

Butt joints hold up fine as well. I like pocket hole screws to help… Or rabbets, mortise & tenons, etc. Again, gang them together and it makes it all stronger.

I do agree that running a screw into plywood end grain can cause splitting/delamination. But, a bit of pre-drilling, and you should be fine. Better grades of plywood also helps here.

-- John F. SoCal transplant, chewer uppper of good wood

View Eric's profile

Eric

241 posts in 678 days


#8 posted 07-07-2020 01:47 AM

Plywood case and 3/4 stick for the face frames. It will be plenty strong. Save the 2x stock for a rock solid work bench. If level is a concern, use a 2” lag bolt into the bottom of the bench legs. Enjoy

-- Eric, Upstate South Carolina

View farmfromkansas's profile

farmfromkansas

210 posts in 419 days


#9 posted 07-07-2020 02:04 AM

When I made my work bench used 2x burr oak that I milled with my band mill. Glued up the legs so they are 6×6, M and T Joints, thing is still solid after 15 years. Other stuff is mostly 3/4” ply, cut 1/4” grooves for bottoms, and face frames glued and nailed to the box, and they are solid. Screwed to the wall. Used 2×4’x for my outfeed table, with a 3/4” ply top. All this stuff is about 15 years old and still solid. I use the shop occasionally during summer, and every day during winter. My farm keeps me busy during the growing season, just have to feed the cows during winter.

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