DIY Arbor Swing: How to Make 2×2 Lumber from a 2×6

We’re sharing step by step as we build a DIY arbor swing in a beautiful backyard! This is Step 6: how to make 2×2 lumber boards from a 2×6, to use as lattice purlins on the arbor rafters.

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How to Make 2×2 Lumber from a 2×6

For this swing arbor, I needed 2×2 lumber for the top purlins – the lattice across the top of the rafters. BUT I couldn’t find any good 2×2 lumber in cedar like the rest of the swing components. So what’s a Remodelaholic to do but dust off the table saw workbench and mill my own 2×2 lumber! This is a great way to turn a regular board into the dimensional lumber size you need, at the actual dimensions you need, and at lumber’s regular price instead of a specialty price.

2×2 boards are commonly used in framing lumber for sheds or for stair spindles, so I could find pine 2×2 lumber but nothing cedar or redwood exterior-grade like I wanted, with the added natural durability needed for outdoor applications like the swing arbor I’m building. Like Corey talked about here with using 2x4s – it’s much more common to find nice straight 2x4s and 2x6s in the lumber section inventory levels than 2x2s that are really stellar. All you need is a table saw to make your own 2xs lumber, and a table saw is definitely worth the investment if you’re going to be building a lot of projects!

If you want perfectly square edges vs the rounded factory edges, you’ll need to take a thin slice off each side of the board, like Corey showed here for making a 2×3 from a 2×4 board. Depending on how thinly and accurately you can cut, your 2×2 lumber might have slightly different measurements than a 2×2 board purchased straight from the lumber store. If that’s important to your project, take care – if it’s not, just be safe on the table saw!

Tips For Working With 2x4's For
learn more about working with 2x4s here

Before you get ready to cut your own 2×2 lumber, remember the difference between a board’s nominal size (in name only) and actual size measurements. The nominal measurements of lumber sizes are for rough-cut lumber only, and what we typically purchase in the store is milled and finished.

  • 2×2 actual size is 1 1/2″ H x 1 1/2″ W
  • 2×4 actual size is 1 1/2″ H x 3 1/2″ W
  • 2×6 actual size is 1 1/2″ H x 5 1/2″ W

As you can see, 2 – 2×2 boards would be 3″ wide (and could be cut from a 2×4), and 3 – 2x2s are 4 1/2″ wide – that extra width from the original board is part scrap and part what gets milled away when it’s cut to size.

To rip these 2×6 boards into 2×2 boards, I set my table saw fence and ripped off the milled edges on each board, then I set my table saw fence to 1 1/2″ and ran the boards through to create the 2×2 lumber I needed. Remember to account for the 1/8″ saw blade width when setting the fence and calculating your cuts. (And yes, I’m still really happy with my new table saw fence.)

How To Make 2x2 Lumber From 2x6 Boards, Remodelaholic

Note: Newly-cut 2x2s are prone to crooking, twisting, and bowing (depending on the moisture content and how well kiln-dried the original boards were) so I recommend installing them as soon as possible after cutting, to prevent them from going crooked before you can use them for your project.

Stay tuned and subscribe to see how I install these 2×2 purlins and the 2×8 rafters, stain the posts, and more – right up until the finished project reveal!

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How To Make Your Own 2x2 Lumber From 2x6 Remodelaholic
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I am the husband of the amazing Cassity of Remodelaholic. I love to problem solve and to design and build things inside and outside the house to make life better. I am a professional Landscape Architect by trade and love the outdoors.

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

We love hearing from fellow Remodelaholics, so let us know what you like about this and leave any questions below in the comments. If you've followed a tutorial or been inspired by something you've seen here, we'd love to see pictures! Submit pictures here or by messaging us over on Facebook.

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