Thursday, March 5

Nightstands Day 2 - Tapered Legs and a Drawer

Welcome back for day two of our nightstand series! You can see the entire series here. Today's nightstand was based on yesterday's design but is a little larger, adds a drawer, and has another option for the legs (of course you can do any of the legs listed in yesterday's post for a different look).

There is room underneath for a basket and the drawer offers hidden storage to keep things looking tidy!

Shopping List:
1  -  1x3 @ 12'
2  -  1x4 @ 8'
1  -  1x6 @ 6'
1  -  1x12 @ 2' (4' is probably the shortest you can buy, if you have a scrap 2' is plenty)
10 or 11" drawer slides
wood filler
wood glue
1 1/4" screws
2" screws
Kreg Jig with 1 1/4" and 2 1/2" pocket screws (optional)
finishing nails

Overall Dimensions of this table are 18" wide x 23" tall by 14" deep. To get a good fit for your bed, you can adjust the overall height of the table by adjusting the length of the legs. 

Remember to always double check your measurements before you cut. Use 1 1/4" screws unless otherwise indicated. Pre-drill your holes and countersink your screws. Always use glue before you screw the boards together (you don't have to let it dry first), I'm not going to list it in every step, but it's a good idea to glue everything! Be safe, and have fun!

Cut List:

(A)  4  -  1x4  @  18"   (bottom)
(B)  2  -  1x6  @  14"   (sides)
(C)  1  -  1x6  @  16.5"   (back)
(D)  4  -  1x3  @  16"   (legs)
(E)  2  -  1x3  @  12"  (front/back trim)
(F)  2  -  1x3  @  6 5/8"   (side trim)
(G)  1  -  1x12  @  15 1/2"   (drawer bottom)
(H)  2  -  1x4  @  11 1/4"  (drawer sides)
(I)  1  -  1x4  @  14"   (drawer back)
(J)  4  -  1x4  @  18"   (top)
(K)  1  -  1x6  @  16 1/4"  (drawer front)

Start by lining up the four bottom boards (A) side by side, keeping everything flush (if you have a Kreg Jig go ahead and attach the four pieces together). Attach a side board across each side of the bottom section you just made (see pic below) using a Kreg Jig (or you could drill through each bottom board into the side boards). The front, back, and sides should be flush.

Slip the back board (C) between the side boards, keeping it flush with the back edge. Attach it using a Kreg Jig or by drilling through each side board into the ends of the back board.

Now you can taper each of the legs (D). Make a mark 6" down one side of the leg. Along the bottom edge measure in 1.5" from the opposite side. Draw a line connecting the two marks. Cut along the line.

Next prepare each of the front/back trim boards (E) and side trim boards (F) by cutting each end at a 45 degree angle (see pic below). Make sure the cuts are perpendicular (like this /=\, not this /=/). Use the trim pieces to connect the four legs like in the picture below. Keep the top and inside edges flush, and make sure all the tapers point in toward the middle. Don't forget to use glue. Assemble the pieces using finishing nails or screws (screws will be harder to hide and could look messy, but would be stronger). Check for square before attaching this to the nightstand body (measure corner-to-corner each direction. if it is square the measurements will match.).

Attach the leg assembly to the bottom of the nightstand using a Kreg Jig, or by drilling down through the bottom into the legs and trim boards. It should be set back 2 1/4" from the front and 1 1/2" from each side. Try to get at least one screw in each board.

Next build the drawer box. Start by attaching a drawer side (H) on each end of the drawer bottom (G). Use a Kreg Jig or drill through the drawer bottom into the sides.

Attach the drawer back (I) between the drawer sides using a Kreg Jig or by drilling through the sides and bottom into the back.

Follow the instructions on your drawer slides to install the drawer box. This is much easier to do before the top is attached! These plans are based on a 1/2" slide allowance so you will need to adjust the size of the drawer if your slides are different. Make sure your drawer box is recessed 3/4" from the face of the nightstand so your drawer front will end up flush later.

Once the drawer box is in place you can attach the top (J). You can use a Kreg Jig to assemble the four top boards side-by-side first, or just attach each board individually. Use finishing nails and glue.

Now you just need to make the drawer front (K). First you need to trim 1/4" off the board so it is only 5 1/4" tall. A table saw would work best for this, but we've done it with a regular circular saw as well. If you want to attach a regular drawer pull, you can leave the drawer front like this and skip to the next step (if you're doing this you may want to just set the top in place without attaching it in the previous step, then nail it down after the drawer front is in place and the pull is on. One the top is on, it will be very difficult to open the drawer without a drawer pull!) Your other option is to do a notched drawer pull like in my drawings. Use a reciprocating saw to cut a notch in the top edge of the drawer front - I measured in 6" from each side and notched 1" down.

Set the drawer front on the drawer box and center it in the opening with 1/8" gap all around (it's important to have the top in place to get this gap right). It should be flush with the face of the nightstand. Use finishing nails and glue to attach the drawer front to the drawer box. I find it helps to trace the drawer box on the front of the drawer front first so I know where to nail.

The building is done, now you just have to finish it! Start by filling any holes with wood filler. Let it dry, then sand it smooth (repeat if necessary). Next sand the whole table smooth for a great finished product (a good sanding can be the difference between looking professional vs. crafty). Then finish with any paint or stain and polyurethane you like. I'm (once again) digging the two-tone look with a wood nightstand (either natural or stained) with a white drawer front.

It would also look great painted solid white, or get creative with an aqua or muted yellow. Or you could go solid with the stain to mimic the look of a nightstand that retails for $425 on etsy (your DIY nightstand will be a small fraction of the cost!).

Stay tuned - we still have 16 more days of DIY nightstands coming up!


  1. Replies
    1. So sorry about that! Looks like buying a 6' board instead should fix the problem? I'll update the plans now. Thanks for pointing this out!!

  2. Could you use 3/4th plywood instead of all the 1×4 for a more modern look. ???

  3. I suppose this is just me being a newbie, but I cut my boards according to the cut list and now everything is 1/2" too wide and 1/4" too thick, so I have to go back and re-mill everything - very frustrating!

  4. Sorry, that wasn't very helpful of me. And I appreciate the free plans so I really don't have much to complain about. Let me try to be more constructive.

    Since these plans are prefaced with "Remember to always double check your measurements before you cut ... Pre-drill you holes and countersink you screws", I had guessed these plans were geared towards beginners like me. These are likely things that go unsaid for a more advanced audience. As a beginner, I really appreciate that you called these out explicitly, not assuming that I would know to do them (I suppose I _did_ already know to "measure twice", but I appreciate it all the same). I also appreciate that you were clear about the default use of 1.25" screws and glue.

    So given this context, I hope it is understandable that I was surprised when, for example, board B was listed as 1x6 @ 14" in the cut list, but actually had to be 0.75x5.5 @ 14" to fit in the plans. I had not expected that I would have to go through the plans and compare the measurements in the instructions and diagrams to those in the cut list.

    I understand buying slightly over-sized boards so they can be trimmed down to shape, but is it a standard to report board thickness as 1/4 inch more than actual and board width 1/2 inch more than actual? Perhaps that is something new-comers have to get used to. May I request/suggest that you explain how you talk about board dimensions in a similar manner to the aforementioned guidance you give? That would have saved me re-doing my milling in any case.

    1. I'm so sorry for the confusion! These plans are made to use standard off-the-shelf lumber and when you buy a 1x6, for example, you do get a board that is actually .75 x 5.5" (it's a weird quirk of lumber sizing that really makes it unnecessarily complicated) so the plans are drawn to reflect that size. The intention was that you would be able to buy a board off the shelf (already sized .75 x 5.5") and only have to make one cut @14" and it's ready to go. My goal was actually to make it as simple as possible and avoid the need for trimming boards, and I'm sorry I didn't make that more clear. I guess I'm so used to the sizing now that I forget how confusing it was when I started. I'll try to do a better job of clarifying that from now on! Thanks for pointing out that oversight, and I apologize for the extra headache it caused. :)