A Beautiful Cabinet From 2x4s

Have you ever thought about making great pieces of furniture out of regular construction grade 2x4s? If you have than you probably have also heard most people say that cheap pine 2x4s are junk, they twist to easy, and are horrible to work with. Oh yeah, and they blotch like crazy when stained as well so ya know what…don’t even waste your time. I am one of those people who if you tell me you don’t think I can do something I will learn what it takes or find a way to prove you wrong.

I will say that those negative comments from above are half true. Yes, generally speaking pine will expand, contract and twist more frequently than other species of wood. But, if you allow proper time to acclimate to your working environment and allow time for the pieces to rest when working with them than you probably won’t notice much movement. I didn’t in this project anyway. This was built during the busy season at my day job which meant just a little bit of working here and there with a lot of idle time in between.

I honestly couldn’t tell you how many 8′ 2x4s I used. I believe I had six when I started but because that was about a month ago I am not certain. To make the solid panels I used several strips that were 1-1/2″ x 7/8″. The 1-1/2″ dimension was convenient because that’s the thickness of a 2×4. When making these panels I did not face joint the seams in any way. When working with pine the wood will generally compress with clamps and the glue will keep it where you want it.

I changed the side design from the original SketchUp concept. This was so that I could extend the printed image all the way around. I ended up with the image panel above and a solid panel below. The entire side construction was half lap joinery. 2x4 cabinet

I connected the sides to all of the horizontal pieces with pocket hole screws. That makes three of my favorite woodworking terms in this project; pocket hole screws, half lap joints, and 2x4s. In my opinion, pocket holes are the greatest thing since sliced bread…and I love bread.

Because I also ditched the idea of a stand I decided to use the French cleat system to hang it on the wall. For those who are not familiar with the system basically it consists of two interlocking pieces via a corresponding angle. I chose 30° for mine but generally people go with 45°. This allows you to easily mount the wall piece so you don’t have to deal with holding the cabinet in place and then drilling and screwing.

I have built many doors and drawers in the past but these were the first inset doors I have made. Luckily they came out great with a little bit of careful planning. Well, the doors themselves came out great. The image panel on the other hand had a little bit of a hick up. For whatever reason I cut the panel to the interior measurements of the door instead of the rabbet measurement. I had to then cut a larger piece of 1/4″ luan to glue in the rabbet and glue the printed panel to the front of that. In the end the doors turned out great and you can never tell there was a problem. 2x4 cabinet

I finished the cabinet with one coat of Minwax Early American. I love this stain on pine. The stain was top coated with three sprayed coats of Satin Deft Brushing lacquer. The past few projects of mine have been sprayed with a satin lacquer as well as I really like the way it looks compared to a clear gloss. 2x4 cabinet

That pretty much sums it up. I hope I have proven a point here. You CAN make gorgeous woodworking projects with cheap pine 2x4s and here is proof. Below are some pics followed by a build video. I would like to leave you with one of my favorite quotes which I unfortunately do not know the author of – “Often times we lack not the ability but the patience to use our ability.”  2x4 cabinet  2x4 cabinet  2x4 cabinet  2x4 cabinet

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  1. This was great. I’m a believer of 2×4 wood now. Hah. One question about your router table what do use around your router bit. It might just be an optical illusion with the bit spinning but it looks like some kind guide on the bit? What was that?

    • Sorry for the late reply. Somehow your comment got caught in my spam filter. Not quite sure if it is what you are talking about but on the top of the bit is a metal bearing.

  2. I am so happy that I found your site!!! I don’t know how happy the hubby will be when he is in the garage making this stuff. I’ll just tell him we are saving money. Great instructions!!

  3. You have got the coolest shop setup. Thanks for sharing your woodworking world. I am barely getting started, but love every new project!

  4. I have been trying to print off a set of plans for this project….but have been unable. I’ve installed Sketchup and loaded the file given above….but all I see is a 3D picture of the project. Is there a way to get a materials list and/or plans for it from Sketchup?

    • I do not have any plans for this project as most of it was pretty custom. The sketchup file is just a 3d representation. There is no materials list for it. I just used the 3d plan to figure out what was needed at the time.

  5. I love your web site, and this project is wonderful. I to like to use 2×4 for make inexpensive furniture. You are a great craftsman. Thanks Jay for sharing.

  6. An amazing piece of work and inspirational. It’s good to see someone else believes that softwoods can be made into impressive and functional items. I, myself have just finished making a swinging crib of my own design from old recycled floor boards for my first grandchild. Keep up the great work so I can get some more ideas and hopefully create some work that would be half as good as yours.

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