I am wanting to build a day bed for someone cheaply. But I do want it
to look nice and hold up. It needs to be painted white. Will using
regular 2x4 and other building lumber be ok? Around here, I think it
is southern yellow pine. I plan on planeing it and everything.
Other wood around here is just so expensive. I have some oak at home,
but hate to use it and paint over it.
It will work just fine and especially since you will be painting it, that is
what I did for many years, many years ago. I would advise using the same
brand primer for a base coat and lightly sanding that coat before applying
the top coat.
Use poplar ... much cheaper, and still a hardwood, with hardwood properties,
and you won't feel bad painting it.
I would not build anything I'd want to be proud of out of today's plantation
grown construction lumber, except maybe temporary shop fixtures.
Trust me ... if it's worth spending your time on it, it's worth using the
best material you can afford.
I agree with swingman that poplar and maybe some oak would be the first
choice for a project of that kind. However construction lumber will work
quite well if you spend some time going through the lumber before you buy.
I often find that lumber in the reject pile is better then the "good" stuff
and usually 1/2 price, look at it closely though and make sure that you can
use it in spite of warps, twists and splits.
Buy kiln dried 2x12's that look from the end to be a full width tree.
Rip out and and toss the center 3" of the board. Cut them to rough
length and let them dry for a few weeks. You're left with mostly
vertical grain that's quite usable for cheap work.
The 2x[6,8,10,12] here are all green. The only thing we get KD
is 2x4 (at the local home depot/lowes in n. cal.).
I usually have 3 or 4 2x6 and 2x8 8-footers stashed away in the shed
air drying for when I need some doug fir for a project. Whenever
I'm at HD and see a nice tight-grained 2x6 or 2x8 I'll add it to
Local lumber dealer $1 bd foot kiln dried and $0.50 air dried 3 months or
Oak white or red $2 bd ft
Cherry or Walnut $3bd ft Kiln dried
Maple Good Luck
Hickory $1bd ft Kiln dried
all in random widths and lengths rough,
SYP should work fine, with proper care. It certainly is strong enough.
And it should be stabile once properly seasoned. Some cautions:
1) Allow plenty of time for it to air dry and stabilize to an
environment similar to its ultimate home--as it comes from the BORG,
it is likely pretty wet.
2) Allow for at least double the waste you would anticipate with other
wood, even if you have picked carefully from the stock at the BORG.
When you dress it, you are likely to find reaction wood, case
hardening, and other problems that make the final planed size much
smaller than you wanted.
3)Make sure to seal and prime well. Knots and sap pockets tend to
bleed through and show up as stains on your paint. I like to use a
shellac-based AND an oil-based primer, on the theory that what one
doesn't block, the other may. No scientific basis for that, though,
and I may be kidding myself.
You might want to price out poplar. Takes paint very well, and is
"better behaved" as a furniture wood than SYP (meaning less waste and
less frustration in working it), and somewhat lighter, which you may
appreciate when picking up the bed.
Alex -- Replace "nospam" with "mail" to reply by email. Checked infrequently.
Tons of good advice here so I won't repeat it. I have built several
beds (including bunks) out of SPF (aka Jummywood) bought at the Borg.
My preferred method of finishing is a 2# cut of shellac (sealer) plus a
second with Transtint or similar dye to get the color of your choice.
This takes a fair amount of experimentation so when you get what you
like, be sure to make up enough to cover the piece in one sitting. Then
add a top coat of your choice: oil, oil/poly mix, oil/poly/spirits mix,
etc. That should give you a good looking piece that will stand up to
life's little problems.
Did your beds turn out well? I am really struggeling with what
everyone is saying here. I need it to be lower cost but I dont want
the thing "splitting apart" in a few months either. I dont have the
time or place either to store the wood for several months before using
The things you want to watch for with construction grade lumber is going to
be twist, warp, cup and bow ... and some, or all, of these things may not
show up until you actually start cutting your stock to project dimensions.
Much of this will be due to the wood being "wide grained" from fast growth,
compounded by not being properly dry for furniture work at the time of
Most construction grade lumber at the BORG is kiln dried to around 15 - 18%
(regardless of what they say), and, IME, this is way too "wet" to be making
If you can find well dried lumber at a lumber yard, say below 10% moisture
content, you'll be much safer from the problems described above.
(HINT: while not always the case, a rule of thumb is that heavier the lumber
is, the higher the moisture content, and vice versa, so look for straight
grained, light boards, if you must go this route ... still no guarantee, but
every little bit helps)
You may want to consider springing for a wood moisture meter ... but now
you're approaching, in cost, buying a cheaper hardwood, like poplar, to
Additionally, and IME, you will certainly want to overbuy by at least 30 to
Once again, that puts you square in the price range of a cheaper hardwood,
with which you should have fewer chances of problems ... but only if the
poplar is below that 10% moisture content reading.
I'm not saying that it can't be done (AAMOF, there was indeed a time when
this could be done on sheer luck alone, but that time is long past ), but I
will adamantly state that it takes a good bit of experience to look at wood,
and particularly construction grade lumber, and make a judgment as to the
likelihood of problems and suitability for even the least important bit of
If you don't have this experience, IMO you're treading on thin ice. What it
then boils down to is whether you have more time than money.
If that's the case, then by all means, go for it! You now know what the up
and down sides are.
The beds turned out fine. One is a bunk with a desk underneath and a
bed on top, built for my first grandson. He is now 6'3" and 200+ pounds
so the bed is now in one of my guest rooms. Outside of the expected
dents and dings, it is in good shape. Another twin bed was damaged in a
move but repairable and sleeps another grandchild. Another double was
again damaged in a move (neither bed was done in by professional
movers), repaired and is in a daughters guest room. Another (painted
several times) is in my storage room and awaits something... anything...
please take it away.
I found that as somebody said not only looking for straightness but
lightness (low water content) is important. You will still need to
acclimate the boards to the local environment for as long as you can
manage (week to weeks, if possible). Joint and plane the boards. A 2x6
can stand a bit taken off and still be usable as a side rail for
example. Jummy would be proud. (That's so when he googles, he will see
some new references to his name. :-) )
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