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Thread: Can I cut a 2x6 this way?

  1. #1
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    Question Can I cut a 2x6 this way?

    I'm new to the world of wood working and am currently building my first workbench.

    I'm keeping detail work like drawers to a minimum with this one just so I can finish it.

    I'm wondering if this is a 'acceptable' thing to do structure wise.

    Here are my plans: The Green colored board is a 2x6 and is 78" long. I'd like to put 2 - 26" wide x 3.5" tall drawers (blue rectangles) in by cutting out 2 rectangles in the 2x6. The table surface is going to be an old door 84" long (has inset panels, so not a smooth surface) and then plywood for the work surface. So I think there is plenty of strength there. The 4 trusses under the surface are 24" 2x4, with 2- 1x4 pieces for the bottom of the drawers to slide on.
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    Btw, the dimensions need to be multiplied by 10. So 7.8" wide for the green 2x6 is really 78". This is because this is an online platform designed for small scale 3d printing. I just stumbled across it, very intuitive, just not to scale.

    If you're feeling adventurous, head over to tinkercad.com and search Zach's Workbench. It's a really cool site, but not really for anything serious. Still learning sketchup...

    Thanks for any advice!

  2. #2
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    Sure, it's acceptable to cut your drawer fronts in that way. It's done like that on many fine furniture tables.

    There are several ways you could do it. The easiest way would be to rip the 2x6 into three strips, cut your drawer fronts out of the center strip, then glue the remaining pieces back together. You'll lose about a quarter inch of height that way due to the two ripsawn kerfs.

    Another way would be to use a circular saw or a jigsaw and make plunge cuts through the 2x6. If you don't have a jigsaw, you could 'sneak up' on the corners with a circular saw, and finish the cuts with a hand saw. Lacking any power tools, you can still make the cuts with hand tools, but it'll be a lot of work.

    Oh, and by-the-way, welcome aboard! You'll find us to be a friendly and helpful group here.

    Let us know how the project works out for you. Post some pictures of it when you can.
    Jim D.
    Adapt, Improvise, Overcome!

  3. #3
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    Yeah you can - but, it's not the best way. Jim had a good idea how to do it.

    I wanted to mention the left front leg.

    There is nothing giving support to the lower part of that leg. It needs "something".

    I know you mentioned the 3D printer and I hope that is the only reason you scaled the drawing.
    Cad modeling should - always - be modeled at full scale then scale down at the end only as you need to.

  4. #4
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    The method Jim describers, as he states, is performed on many fine furniture pieces. This is a method taught in books and can be seen in Fine Woodworking articles pm construction techniques. The primary reason is to match the drawer fronts to the surrounding material. My concern with 2-by material would be ending up with usable parts after ripping. When I think of 2-by material I think of construction lumber which is often wetter than desired and will move unpredictably when sawn. You may be using the term to describe properly prepared material however and the chance of excessive movement is much less there.
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  5. #5
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    Structurally, I wonder what would happen if you sat on the bench in the middle. The 2 x 6 (5 3/4" really) gets reduced in width by the 3 1/2" high drawers , leaving only two 1 1/8" strips to support the top over much of it's length. Unlike small tables or desks, a bench might end up with some serious weight on it. Depending on how thick the panel door is, you might get some deflection if you put any significant weight on the center of the top--if that makes any difference to you.

  6. #6
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    Like Ted suggested, you will lose the advantage of having a 2x6 support on the front. The strength of a 2x6 like that comes mainly in the edge of the material, but to keep the advantage it must be kept precisely that far apart. Drilling an occasional hole in a beam for a wire isn't a problem, but cutting a section out weakens the beam. An I beam works because it has a lot of material at the top and bottom, but the middle part (the web) holds the top and bottom in position. A torsion box works because the skin (top and bottom material) is held a precise distance apart by the filler between the skins (honeycomb paper or a grid of wood). When you remove the "hole" for the drawer front, you destroy the engineering of that heavy front piece. It is often done in a piece of fine furniture, but in that case strength isn't an issue, as it would be for a workbench.

    If you would be happy, structurally, with a 1x2 on the top and bottom of the drawer - that is essentially what you are building. I suspect a single 2x4 above the drawers would be stronger.

    Using a paneled door as the first layer of the work surface isn't going to add much if any strength. I suggest you go to two layers of 3/4 inch plywood, glued together. (you can use screws from the bottom to clamp the middle of the plywood, then remove the screws after the glue is dry). Why 2 layers, why glued? 3/4 inch ply is almost enough - and for many uses may be enough. Two layers is twice as strong as 1 layer. But two layers glued together essentially becomes a single sheet of plywood 1 1/2 inches thick, which is 8 times as strong as a single 3/4 inch layer (the third power gets into the equation)
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  7. #7
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    Cutting it that way also takes away all the strength from the 2x6. There will be very little strength left in that front support for putting anything heavy on the table.
    Earl

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Earl Rumans View Post
    Cutting it that way also takes away all the strength from the 2x6. There will be very little strength left in that front support for putting anything heavy on the table.
    Hmm, I wonder how much strength it actually removes as you essentially have an open beam with the stringer above and below. The bottom part is in tension and cellulose fibers are fairly strong in tension (not as high as compression but still fairly strong). I think this ends up being a variant of an open truss (http://www.texbrick.com/articles/trusses.pdf for the lego nerds amongst us - has a reasonable explanation as does http://makezine.com/2010/06/10/ask-m...-trusses-work/) and suspect that the middle of the beam actually provides less strength that you'd assume (reading a lot of bow making lately which is all about outside compression and tension has lead me to question a lot of assumptions I had here).

    Having said that; this is a difficult cut to make look good because you have no place to "fix" anything and have to make the cuts perfectly on the first pass so it wouldn't be my first choice if you're trying to do things the easy way.

    I'd agree with Leo that the lack of bracing on the legs is concerning, for a work bench you want to have lots of support against wracking as you end up putting a lot of lateral forces when doing some types of work (planing especially can shake things up).

  9. #9
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    Ryan,

    Look at figure 2 in your first reference about open truss - if you have a rectangular opening (for a drawer) you no longer have a truss, and all the strength is in the frame. By the time you cut a 3 1/2 inch opening in a 5 1/2 inch board, that isn't much of a frame. With 3 supports, about 8 inches wide (between the drawers and on the left and right) you don't have a lot of support to make the frame stiff... a vertical load in the center front of the bench will cause the center (supported by two boards only about an inch thick) to sag (the bottom in tension, the top in compression) but without support of the top horizontal member, it will try to buckle, making the drawer stick. Those two thin boards over/under the drawers have to transmit all the center load to the legs.

    If you want big drawers like that, at least put in a center leg in the front. Then the boards above and below the drawer don't have to provide much structural support - don't have to transmit the center load to the legs at the sides. If you have a center leg, you can make the drawers even taller.

    Zach,

    Since you are designing a new workbench, you might want to try an idea I haven't used. I have seen workbenches bolted to a sheet of plywood, so the user stood on the plywood, and the bench didn't move when the user pushed or pulled (the benches were installed in office-type space). My idea is to put a piece of plywood 12-18 inches wide, the length of the bench, attached to the legs with heavy door hinges. If you move the bench around, the plywood tips up out of the way. When you are planing or doing heavy work on the bench, flip it down and it doesn't move.
    Charlie Plesums, Austin Texas
    (Retired early to become a custom furnituremaker)
    Lots of my free advice at www.solowoodworker.com

  10. #10
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    First of all, wow, thanks for the great replies!

    Super helpful, and sure appreciate it.

    A few things: The door i'm using is about 1.5" thick, and pretty much looks like this (solid edge, panels inside): Click image for larger version. 

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    Was planning on putting 3/4" plywood on top of that. I honestly don't know if i even need the door...I have 2 of them lying around and was trying to get one of them out of the way.

    I should clarify how the legs are attached. They will actually be resting on a 2x4, the other view just didn't show it well, so i moved the 2x6 out of the way so you can see where it rests. It looks like this on the back of the bench too.

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    I could always make the drawers smaller i suppose, to retain some strength...

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