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Building a Better Nightstand: DIY Nightstand Tutorial

I always wondered why quality furniture is always so expensive… Then I made 2 nightstands and now I understand, it is hard work! However, getting these nightstands with a little sweat equity and at nearly half the price, I think it was worth it! I know this looks intimidating, but it is not as bad as it may seem. I will walk you through the entire process and you can do it too!

If you are going for the raw wood look, I recommend Oak or Pine. Pine will be cheaper, but I love the look of Oak, so that is what I did. If you are going to paint it, you can do any wood you want. But get a nice, smooth wood, without a lot of knots.

I found these plans on Kreg’s website. I decided to change them up a bit to work for what I wanted. Kreg’s website is great, you can get free plans to thousands of projects.


Wood Products: I got most of my supplies at Lowes
  • 1 2×2, 120” board
  • 1 1×2, 96” board
  • 1 1×3, 96” board
  • 1 1×8, 72” board
  • 1 Edge glued finger – joint pine board, 16inx3ft board
  • 1 3/4” Thick, Half Sheet, Plywood
  • 1 1/2” Thick, Half Sheet, Plywood

Step 1: Figure out your plans.

Like I said, I used the plans from Kreg as a starting point. I decided to add a third drawer and no apron. I adjusted my measurements and created a cut list. This is what Kreg suggested, but I adjusted my list for my project.

Step 2: Make your cuts.

If you do not have a table saw, you can still do this project with a circular saw. I picked up this cool measuring tool to help make the lines, and this saw attachment to keep the lines straight. It made the cuts so much easier. I finished with my table saw, but you don’t have to.

Step 3: Pocket Holes

If you are going for the raw wood look, you really need to use pocket holes. They allow you to attach the wood together from the inside, so the screws are hidden without using wood filler.

You will need a pocket hole jig for this. You can get a less expensive, manual one like this one, or this one, which I have, and love. They usually come with a special pocket hole drill bit, and you will need to get pocket hole screws.

Create the following pocket holes…

  • 3 on the inside of the long sides of the side and back pieces
  • 2 on the inside of the top of both side pieces.
  • 2 on the bottom of each side of the drawer dividers
  • 2 on each side of the OUTSIDE of the drawer front and backs.

Step 4: Start Assembling the Frame

I started by attaching the front and back legs on the side pieces. I then connected the back to the front. Once the back and sides were assembled, I added the drawer dividers on the front. I added a couple trim pieces to the sides. Then, finally the top. And with that the frame was complete!

It is important that you make sure everything is perfectly square and even. You can use clamps to help hold everything in place as you screw it all together.

Instead of buying extra wood, I just screwed 2 smaller pieces together to make the back. It worked perfectly!

Step 5: Add Edge Banding to the raw edges,

Because the top of my nightstand had rough edges that you cannot typically paint to look clean. I used edge banding to cover them up. What I love about edge banding is that it is super easy to install, is paintable, stainable, OR it can be left raw. There are several different colors, so you can get one that matches the color of your wood perfectly! All you do is iron it on the edges and it finishes it so nicely.

Step 6: Assemble the Drawers.

Make sure as you assemble the drawers, that you keep your corners a perfect 90 degrees. Screw the backs to the sides using pocket hols. Make the side pieces 1/2 inch taller than the front and back, so the bottom piece will fit snug between it. Then, attach the bottom with glue and a nail gun.

Step 7: Install the drawer slides.

I recommend following the instructions on the slides you bought. They are super helpful and informative. Don’t forget to set the slide back enough so that once you add the face frame, it will line up flush with the front of the nightstand.

Step 8: Add the drawer face frames.

Once the drawers are installed, it’s time to add the face frames. Be sure to have it evenly spaced on all sides of the opening. Glue and nail the face frame to the drawer.

Step 9: Sand it down.

Because this is raw wood and I wanted to keep the raw look, I gave it a real good sanding. Using 220 grit sandpaper gives it a smooth finish. If your wood is more rough or needs a little more sanding, check out this post to get more info on which sandpaper to use.

Step 10: Seal or paint it.

The last step is to paint or seal it.

Because I wanted to leave it natural, I did a natural stain combo that I do on basically everything I leave natural.  First, make sure you always use wood conditioner on anything you will be staining. This is like a primer for stain, and it provides a smooth surface for the stain to sit on and provides an even coverage. My favorite stain combination is 40% Early American, 20% Whitewash and 40% Weathered gray stain. Once that is dry I seal it with Polycrylic in ultra-flat.

Step 11: Add hardware:

Decide on what hardware you want and install it according to the instructions.

AND YOU NOW HAVE A COMPLETED BEAUTIFUL NIGHTSTAND!!! Unless…. you want to be a little extra (like I did) you can keep going, otherwise, you can stop here and have an incredible custom nightstand.

Step 12: Customize the Drawers:

I wanted to give the illusion that the top drawer was 2 drawers instead of 1. I got trim and cut it in half. I then mitered the ends to a 45-degree angles to make a frame.

I got this cane webbing to put in the center of the frame.

When using this you need to soak it for 15-20 minutes to loosen the fibers. Then, I stained it to match the colors of the dresser.

After it was dry, I nailed it to the front of the drawer and then put the frame around it. I absolutely love the look of this, and it gave it just the texture it needed!

And now you really do have a beautifully custom nightstand that YOU MADE BY YOURSELF!! Will it be perfect? Absolutely not, you are not a mass manufacturer, a robot or a machine. But that is what makes these kinds of projects the best. It is perfectly imperfect! Now, go celebrate your hard work! You deserve it!

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