Woodworker's Central
Woodworker's Gazette
Gazette Archive 11/11/02

A Book Review by Mark A Spaulding

Title: 2X4 Projects for Outdoor Living

Stevie Henderson and Mark Baldwin

Published by: Lark Books
Distributed by: Sterling Publishing Co. Inc.

387 Park Avenue South
New York, NY 10016-8810
ISBN 0-8069-9383-9
Price Softcover: $16.95
128 color pages

When I read the title of this book, the first thing I thought was, What self-respecting woodworker would ever pick it up to read it? Is there a woodworker out there who would utilize 2X4s to handcraft furniture? Yep. I think there is!

If you are an intermediate or advanced woodworker, you will likely find this book a bit "beneath you." That is to say, it is designed for the person who has no, or very little, woodworking experience. To this market, 2X4 Projects for Outdoor Living fill this need exceptionally well. Moreover, if you are an experienced woodworker, consider for a moment how many times in your shop, or online, someone has asked you, how does one get started with woodworking? Do you need tons of tools and materials? Where do you learn how to use them and what tools are required to begin? And What is a good project to begin with? If this book was in your woodworking library, you could simply hand them a copy and say read it and have fun!

If you have been looking for a woodworking book for beginners, 2X4 Projects for Outdoor Living is one of the best I have read.

The Review
The books opening chapter begins, as you might imagine, with a basic description of the tools, materials, and techniques one would need to complete the projects found in the book. Rather than talk about the copious ways of joining wood together, or the numerous types of tools one could employ, the authors approach is to provide the basic information so potential woodworkers can complete a project with common household tools they may already own. At the successful completion of their first project, and now bitten by the woodworking bug, the new woodworker will have gained some basic experience with hand power tools and hand tools in order to build on this knowledge before an outlay of huge sums of cash to build a woodworking shop complete with the latest powered stationery tools.

After the introductory chapter on tools, materials, and finishes, the reader is immediately introduced to the projects. Here the reader will find very good and easy to follow, step-by-step instructions for completing one of the twenty-one projects. All of the materials and tools for each project can be found in any good hardware store, lumberyard, or home center. In fact, not one of the projects calls for a Douglas Fir, #2 or better, 2X4. This exclusion, given the title of the books, surprised me. The most common wood found on the materials list is Pine. But the authors offer that any hard or softwood could be substituted. In fact, in the introductory chapter on materials they caution that cedar or redwood may be a better choice for unpainted outdoor projects. This is good advice, as I can see a new woodworker heading down to the home center to purchase knotty pine and expect it to hold up against the elements! The suggested tools to build the projects are readily available and the style of joinery called for in the completing of the projects are designed for the first time woodworker. You will not find intricate dovetails or highly precise mortise-and-tenon joinery in any of the project designs.

The Projects

  • Bird House Table
  • Privacy Screen
  • Lawn Chair
  • Outdoor Storage Center
  • Tuteur Porch Swing
  • Adirondack Sofa
  • Portable Deck
  • Deck Canopy
  • Barbecue Table
  • Picnic Table and Benches
  • Trash Container
  • Arbor
  • Outdoor Bar
  • Cocktail Table with Tray
  • Hurricane Lamp
  • Coffee Table
  • Mini Gazebo
  • Fence Planter Box
  • Light Trellis
  • Fountain

As you can see, there a quite a number of projects, something for virtually every square foot of your yard and garden. Likewise, all of the projects are designed for success for the first time woodworker. If you have been looking for a book to get started in woodworking, or if you are already an accomplished woodworker looking for a book to share with a new woodworker, 2X4 Projects for Outdoor Living will be a fine way to begin the process giving trees new life in your creations!

Mark A Spaulding

Editor's Note: Sterling Publishing has graciously donated several books for review which are passed on to our members free of charge in exchange for thoughtful, honest reviews. Thank You! And you can usually find their titles at a discount from Barnes And Noble

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