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While it is hard to determine the breaking strength of 2x4s, the primary factor is the direction of the wood. Against the grain, as the wood lays flat here, the amount that the 2×4 can withstand before breaking is usually 20 to 40 pounds per linear foot as long as this weight is evenly distributed.
The crush strength for different types of wood vary, but most are at about 5000 lb/in*2. So a 2 x 4 which is really 1.5 X3. 5 in is about 5.25 sq in and will crush at about 25,000 lbs if properly braced.