My stands are all rough made. all of them 2x4s except the turtle pool stand is 4x4 pressure treated. i use pilot holes as well but not thru both pieces of wood your joining. Only the first board. I took a pic of a 2x4 i took the screws out that was originally pilot holes which is actually a leg brace for the stand, the 2x4 it will be attached to is not pre drilled so it will catch the wood. I also use a larger screw than my pilot holes. the board on right will be behind the board on the left but no pilot holes in that one. Not sure if this pic or what im saying is helpful at all. I would also screw this together as it was laying down, not upright like in the picture.