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Building furniture from cheap, big-box framing lumber

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
I have been trolling Ana White's website (you can find it by googling) the past few months, and the projects, and the philosophical underpinnings behind the projects, intrigue me. Ana and her minions seem to espouse going to a big box store like Homie's or Blowe's, picking through the cheap lumber there, and spinning that crappy straw into gold, via the free woodworking plans on the website. Instead of spending $1,000 on a table, you can build one yourself 90% cheaper.

For a lot of projects, this seems like probably a questionable idea: I don't know that I would want to fashion a family heirloom-type piece out of cheap framing lumber. But for some things, it seems like a great idea. Take outdoor furniture, for example, which is essentially disposable, especially if you live near salt air: the stuff is exorbitantly expensive to buy, always seems to be build like crap, and never seems to last more than 3 or 4 years. Instead of shelling out three grand at Restoration Hardware, why not spend a weekend building your own knockoff style patio table for $150? At this price, who cares if it doesn't last five years?

Has anyone experimented with this type of DIY project? I am fascinated enough by it that I think I'm going to try it this spring -- my first project will be the patio-table-with-built-in-cooler shown below (I think the idea is hilarious).

post #2 of 15
Sure it will work but I would run it through a planer and route the edges better then what was done it that photo. I would also bisket the joints and use a waterproof glue.
post #3 of 15
I would want to make sure the lumber is dry before starting anything.
post #4 of 15
that website will keep you busy. like the others here have mentioned, buy the "premium" version of the lumber if they have one, unless your finish is going to involve any distressing or worn looks. make sure the wood is dry and straight. dont rely on her pricing or cut lists. do your own calculations. as long as you can plane or sand the crap out of the lumber you will be fine. ive built a ton of stuff already with ideas from that website (and my wife being obsessed with pinterest recently) they all came out really awesome and ive saved a ton of money (that cost savings is usually offset by the "need" to upgrade tools wink.gif)
post #5 of 15
My first furniture project used hemlock 4x4 and CVG fir 2x4 and 1x4 from the local lumberyard. I spent more time covering knots and splitsin the 4x4's with dutchmen than anything else on that project (I still have it - looking at it right now). Given the quality of dimensional lumber I see when I go to the borg (which is rare - the place aggravates me so much I only go there when I can't find another way to get what I need), I'd plan on overbuying by a lot, then leaving the material to equilibrate for a while before starting work. The majority of 2x4's I saw in the rack last time I bought any were boxed cores, which don't really like to stay straight...
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input, fellas. I'm gonna give it a shot - why the hell not. I'll make sure to post here when I finish my first project.
post #7 of 15

 Maybe check out a local saw mill or hardwood dealer who specializes in supplying cabinet shops or runs custom flooring and molding. Ones around here are almost half the price for dry lumber than a traditional lumberyard. They store it rough sawn but will plane and straight rip one side for a small charge. If you find the right place they may have 6/4 or 8/4 pine that is dry for not too much more than green lumber available elsewhere. A rustic or "character grade" white oak can be pretty inexpensive as well and will last a long time outdoors, especially if stained or sealed.

GL

post #8 of 15
There is an old guy who comes and picks thru our skid pile and only takes the skids made from rough cut lumber. He takes them apart, scraps the nails and cleans every thing up and makes small things like cutting boards and stuff. Stuff comes out real nice.
post #9 of 15
Don't burn skid lumber if you can help it. They reuse skids and there may be something on there that may make ladies grow balls.
post #10 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by DerrickT View Post

There is an old guy who comes and picks thru our skid pile and only takes the skids made from rough cut lumber. He takes them apart, scraps the nails and cleans every thing up and makes small things like cutting boards and stuff. Stuff comes out real nice.


Cutting boards....omg........some pallets come from overseas and can be treated w pesticides. The treatments kill bugs in the pallets and/or produce that ride on them. I wouldn't burn them in a open fire and hang out campfire style, either. If these are pallets are new and the origin is known that's one thing, but pulling random pallets from multiple sources............shakehead.gif ..............
post #11 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul_M View Post

Cutting boards....omg........some pallets come from overseas and can be treated w pesticides. The treatments kill bugs in the pallets and/or produce that ride on them. I wouldn't burn them in a open fire and hang out campfire style, either. If these are pallets are new and the origin is known that's one thing, but pulling random pallets from multiple sources............shakehead.gif ..............

There is something about that part in Red.............wink.gif
post #12 of 15
I've used dimensional lumber from Lowe's quite a bit. Pick through it and you can fins some nice clear stuff.
I've run it through the jointer and planer and used it for trim.
post #13 of 15
It's not furniture, but you can chop your veggies on free hardwood pallets. The handles are a ripped oak bannister.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 
I took the plunge on what is probably the most popular item on the Ana White website, the farmhouse dining table. I still have to fill the screw holes, sand, stain, and wax the thing, but the building part I just finished. The picture is below. It's definitely rustic (someone in a less than-charitable mood could use the word cheesy) but it's nevertheless a pretty strong, serviceable table that didn't cost 5 mortgage payments. We'll see how I feel after it's finished, but so far I've been kinda surprised at how good cheap framing lumber can look.

The total cost for this is probably somewhere around $300, but that includes a bunch of tools that I bought to do the job, that I'll have for future projects. If you wanted to do this on the cheap, you could easily do it for $150, or maybe less.

Right now I don't feel like ever cutting a piece of wood, or using a drill, ever again, but I'll get the itch again soon. This was a neat project for me.

*
post #15 of 15
Nice job! Looks rustic and inviting, it kinda matches the flooring. Love the lap joints. What color stain?
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