6 min read

2x4 Outdoor Sofa

2x4 Outdoor Sofa

Save thousands of dollars by building your own furniture for your patio or deck!      

After making the patio table and surprising myself,  I was ready for the next step.    Ana White has beautiful project ideas and plans at https://ana-white.com/.   I chose this sofa that is made entirely of 2x4s and screws!   https://ana-white.com/woodworking-projects/2x4-outdoor-sofa.   Ana has plans for 3 pieces:   the sofa with 2 arms, a connecting sectional piece with 1 arm, and matching coffee table.   I built the sofa and was absolutely blown away.  I kept going and built the other pieces!  You can do this.    

Luke:  It's too big.
Yoda:  No...no bigger.  Only bigger in your mind.

From a design perspective, this project is actually easier than the patio table.  It's all cross cuts.    All cuts can be made with the miter saw set at 0 degrees...the simple 90 degree angle.      This project involves no paint.  Instead, the wood will be stained and protected.

Each piece can be built in a weekend too!    okay okay not quite true.  You can assemble the 3-seater sofa is 1-2 days on a weekend.  Then finishing times needs a few sessions.   Just enjoy the process.   There's no rush.  


Shopping

Pop over to Lowe's or Home Depot and see what they have for cedar.  At the time I built this in summer 2020, the price was about $11 for an 8 foot piece.  Looking at the local price now I see it's $16 per piece.  Let's hope these prices come down real soon.

The plans call for 10 foot pieces.  If you can fit them in your car or truck then that's a fine option.  My SUV can fit 8 foot lengths so I picked up 15 of them.  Your longest cut in this project is 72 inches so 8 foot is fine.    Probably just end up with more scrap pieces in the end.

I went with these 2 1/2 inch self-tapping screws.  Get a big ol' box like this so you have plenty of them.

I also recommend using wood glue on this and all projects.  The wood glue really secures the pieces together.  The screws obviously connect the pieces but the glue actually gives it the strong bond.    So I think of the screws as providing the clamping strength needed for the glue.  



Assembly

I put the sofa together in my back yard on a nice day.   I got out a portable long table to place the miter saw on.   Having it on the ground was fine for a small project like the table, but all that squatting wears me out.    I find that I can never have enough work tables.  Tools, work pieces, and equipment have a way of taking up a lot of space.  

These screws are self-tapping so for the most part, there is no need to pre-drill your holes before driving the screw.   I would suggest, however, that if you are driving a screw near the end of a board, take a moment to drill a hole before driving the screw.   This helps prevent the wood from splitting from the hole to the end of the board.   If you do get a a little split it can be fixed.  Mix some wood glue with fine saw dust and press it into the gap.  If you have a clamp, put that on there.   This mix can also be used on other imperfections.  Once you put the stain or paint. the spot is invisible.

If you have the Kreg pocket jig (which was used in  the patio table project) then you can make beautiful pocket holes on some of the connections.   I suggest use the self-tapping screws for load-bearing connections, and the pocket holes & screws on horizontal pieces.    

If you get glue on the visible edges, try to remove it as soon as you spot it.   The stain does not take well to  the glue so those spots tend to stick out on the finished product.  

Over time, I added  two additional boards to the sofa that are not part of Ana's design.   Both run along the back of it.  One just below the top rail so that you have more back support.   And another just above the seat.  This one keeps the seat cushions in place.

patio sofa after initial assembly.

Finishing

At this point, you have spent a day (or two or three) and have a lovely wood sofa that has frayed edges and is rough all over.   Time to make this a beautiful piece with the common finishing steps of sanding, staining, and protection.   Many think that staining is the last step.  This is not true.   For outdoor pieces, the wood must be protected too.

Sanding

Use an orbital sander or finish sander to tend to most of the spots.   120 grade is fine and dandy.    I use this sanding block for spots I want to get to manually.

Soften those sharp edges all over.  If doing that with the orbital sander, be careful not to take it down too much.  You just want to round them off a little bit.

On the bottoms of all the legs, use a technique called a chamfer edge.    

Chamfer example

Without this edge, you run the risk of pieces chipping out over time as the sofa gets moved around and the elements take a toll.  Use your sanding block for this so you can control the depth of the edges.

When you are content with the sanding, use a wet/dry vac to get the saw dust off of the work piece.    You want a nice clean surface before moving to the next step.

Staining

My original work involved Thompsons Stain & Seal.  Color was Golden Oak.   Although it looked nice at the start, it did not hold up well at all.  I was trying to save some steps with this all-in-one product but it didn't work out.  So I recently refinished the furniture with the following products and steps:

I recommend two steps here.   Pre-stain conditioner and then the actual stain.

This conditioner is great stuff.  If you don't use it, then the stain may look blotchy or dirty in spots.  I apply this all over with a sponge brush.  Tip:  this stuff can be pretty noxious, so if you have a max with respirators put that on during this step.  

Right after you have the conditioner applied, you can get going with the stain.  I like to apply it with an old T-shirt.    Just rub it in any don't allow any puddling.  One coat should do the trick.   Let it all dry over night before next step.

I use this MINWAX stain all the time.  This provincial color is great.      

Protection

Last step!    With another sponge brush apply this Spar Urethane for an absolutely gorgeous piece of outdoor furniture.   I like the sponge brushes for this step because there is no streaking like you might see with a regular paint brush.   Let a first coat dry and then decide if you want to do another coat.  

Pillows & Cushions

If you're making the sofa only, then you'll need 3 seat cushions and 3 pillows.

If you're making both the sofa and sectional, then it's 6 cushions and 6 pillows.

I got mine at Lowe's.

And here's what my sofa and sectional looked like in the Thompsons Stain & Seal (again, I don't recommend using that stuff).  

sofa and sectional in Thompsons stain and seal

Motivational quote to ponder

The best thing you have to offer the world is yourself.  You don't have to copy anyone else.  If you do, you're second best.  To achieve success is to be first, and that's being yourself.  -John Denver.

For your ears