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How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers

I’m back with another DIY from my bedroom makeover, showing you how to build a nightstand with drawers.  Ta da!  Isn’t is it the cutest?

How to Build a Nightstand with DrawersHow to Build a Walnut Nightstand with Drawers

The Struggle to Find the Perfect Nightstands:

We have had our DIY nightstands, welded by my grandfather, since 2007.  And every single day, I’ve wished they had drawers, lol.  We did make some really beautiful plywood boxes back in 2015, and those have been really handy for corralling clutter, but they weren’t as easily accessible as drawers.

DIY Metal Side Table

I had been shopping for a nightstand, off and on, for years…  First of all, nightstands are expensive!  I loved this coastal inspired nightstand – and also this one too – but they were $1600 each!  I found a real stunner on Etsy (handmade, walnut), but, again, out of my price range, sadly.  Even this basic white one from Anthro is $500.  I originally really loved this nightstand from West Elm, because the legs worked with our welded headboard, but then I spotted this walnut one with a marble top (West Elm sells a lot of gorgeous nightstands) – unfortunately, West Elm wouldn’t ship either to where I live.

I gave up shopping and decided we should just make our own!

The Inspiration for My DIY Nightstand with Drawers:

After all that online shopping, I at least formed the perfect idea: build a pair of drawers into our existing nightstands.  This one, from France & Son, and this one from Joss & Main, were a couple of my early inspiration pieces.  I then spotted this Gluckstein home nightstand (originally $2000 a piece!) and this High Fashion home nightstand and they heavily inspired my design.  While we built a set of drawers to build into our existing metal nightstands, you can easily adapt this tutorial for how to build a nightstand with drawers.  Make the overall dimensions larger, and add a set of beautiful legs, and this nightstand can be a stand alone piece.

DIY Walnut Nightstand

Supplies for DIY Nightstands:

*I intended to buy walnut veneered plywood for this project and called my father-in-law, a retired woodworker, to ask for his discount code to a local place that sells fancy wood.  Instead, he gave us leftover wood for free!  He had some leftover walnut veneer particle board and plywood, and we were very grateful to not have to buy any wood for this project.

DIY Modern Nightstand

How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers:

I should clarify: we built two.

Make a Sketch & a Cut List

The first step was to sketch our design and figure out our measurements.  Here are our overall measurements (17.5″ W x 18″ H x 15.5″ D) but you’ll want to change those for your own purposes.  Once you see the basic steps involved for how to build a nightstand with drawers, it’s easy to adapt this plan for your own purposes and design.

Plans for Homemade Side Table

Next we used an app to help us figure out a cut list, which helped us easily determine how much wood we needed – and how to maximize it!

Cut List App

Cut Out the Pieces for the “Carcass”

The next step was to use our cut list and cut out all of the pieces we needed with the table saw.  We started with the “carcass” (the exterior of the nightstand) first.

How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers

Edge Band Unfinished Edges

Then we edge banded all of those pieces of wood because it’s much easier to edge band before the nightstands were assembled.  Edge banding is really neat: it’s little strips of veneer with heat activated glue on the back:

Walnut Edge BandingHow Does Edge Banding Work

We use an old iron (just heat, no steam) to affix it, moving the iron slowly across the edge banding to secure it.  Then we trim the end with a utility knife and use an edge trimmer to trim the edges.

How to Apply Edge Banding

This edge trimmer was the best $15 we spent – we used to trim it ALL by hand, using a utility knife.

How to Trim Edge Banding Edge Band Trimming Tool Tips for Trimming Edge Banding How to Use Wood Edge Banding What to Use on Plywood Edges

Cut the Biscuit Notches & Dry Fit

While we were at my father-in-law’s, pilfering wood, he also lent us his biscuit joiner and a big box of biscuits.  A biscuit joiner cuts a little shallow notch in the wood and you match up those slots and join the pieces of wood using wood glue and biscuits.

What is a Biscuit JoinerHow to Use a Biscuit Joiner

It forms a very strong bond and is seamless from the outside: no screws or nails needed.  Some people like to use a Kreg Jig to screw furniture from the inside to create an equally seamless look, but this method is just how we know to build, having learned from Hubby’s dad.  So, we set about cutting notches for the biscuits every place we wanted to join the wood.

Using Biscuits to Join WoodWhat to use instead of a Kreg Jig?How Does a Biscuit Cutter Work?

Here’s the little notch it makes:

Using a Biscuit Joiner

And here’s a look at where we decided to join the wood:

How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers How to Join Wood

After cutting all of the notches, we dry fit the biscuits:

How to Join Wood So You Don't See Nail Holes How to Join Wood without Screws

Assemble the Nightstand Carcass:

Once we knew everything would fit perfectly, we applied wood glue to join those pieces of wood together to make the carcass of the nightstand.

How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers How to build furniture without nails

This process went really quickly – we just ran a bead of glue, inside the notch and along the rest of seam, and assembled the pieces one by one.  Make sure to put wood glue inside the notches so the biscuits are held securely.

how to build furniture without screws

We clamped the nightstand carcass together while the wood glue dried.

How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers

Lightly Sand the Wood and Edge Banding:

Once the glue was dry, we lightly sanded the wood, paying particular attention to the edge banding which needed to be smoothed out on the edges, which were sharp.

Cut & Assemble the Drawers:

Then it was time to make the drawers, which is a nearly identical process.  First, we cut out the pieces.

How to Build Drawers

For the bottom of the drawer, we used thinner panelling type material:

What to use for the bottom of a drawer

The drawers are just simple boxes, like the “carcass,” but we did one trick: instead of nailing/screwing the drawer bottom, which is a thinner, we routed little slots into the inner sides of the drawers using the table saw, at the bottom, so the drawer bottom can slide in.  This is optional.

How to Build a Nightstand with DrawersCutting slots in wood

Here’s what it looks like:

how to build a drawer bottom

Cut the Biscuit Notches & Dry Fit

With everything cut out, we assembled four drawers the same way we assembled the outside of the nightstand: using the biscuit joiner, biscuits, and wood glue.

How to Make Drawers

Before installing the last side of the drawer, we just slid in the bottom of the drawer:

How to Assemble DIY Drawers

We used a tape measure to check to make sure everything was square and then clamped it while to wood glue dried.

How to make sure drawers are square How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers

Attach the Drawer Slides:

With the two pairs of drawers assembled, hubby attached one half of a drawer slide to the side of the drawer and the other inside the carcass of the nightstand.  Luckily these come with instructions to help you align them.  I would not recommend these specific slides, though – the drawers rock a bit from side to side.  It’s not a big issue, I just wouldn’t buy these again:

Euro Drawer Slide ReviewHow to Install Drawer SlidesInstalling Drawer Slides

Then we measured and cut out the drawers fronts and edge banded/sanded, before screwing them onto the drawers from inside.  Making the drawers flush like this was difficult – to get it to look good, everything needs to be perfect.  If we were building these again, we might built drawer fronts that sit outside of the carcass, not inset.  There’s more room for error with that design.

Weld the Cross Pieces:

At this point, you could add furniture legs, maybe a glass top, and call it a day!  The tutorial for how to build a nightstand with drawers is all done – that’s it (easy, right?).  At this point, we hacked our original nightstands to form a frame around the new nightstand with drawers.  First, we removed the lower glass shelf, and the metal brackets that held the glass, and welded on two cross pieces:

Welding nightstand baseDIY welded end table

Here’s the finished base, for reference.  We drilled holes into the cross pieces to affix the new walnut nightstand “carcass” and drawers.

DIY welded side table

To get the wood to “float” a little, like these nightstands, we cut little wood pieces and painted them black to match the metal (which also got a fresh coat of matte black spray paint).

Finish the Walnut Plywood:

I used Watco Danish Oil on the walnut, leftover from our DIY walnut waterfall desk and DIY walnut plywood bed.

Assemble the Nightstand:

We screwed the wood nightstand carcass to the bottom of the nightstand “frame” through the new cross pieces.  We screwed up from the bottom, and placed the wood pieces in between the metal cross pieces and nightstand carcass.  You can’t see them, but they give a little bit of a floating look to the wood, which I thought was a nice design element.

How to Build a Nightstand with DrawersHow to Build a Modern Nightstand with Drawers

Add DIY Knobs:

The final step was to add knobs and, stick with me for a moment: I made these from trash.  I found these on Anthropologie and shared them in my Instagram stories as contenders.  What started as a sort of a joke on Instagram stories about me making my own from trash, snowballed into me actually going to the landfill, rooting around for metal, making my own knobs and loving them.  I’ll share the tutorial for the knobs soon – they were actually a lot of fun, and really easy, to make.

How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers

The Finished DIY Nightstand with Drawers

I hope you found this tutorial for how to build a nightstand with drawers helpful!  I am THRILLED with the new nightstands.  The drawers are so convenient and the look is very similar to what we had before, just a bit of an upgrade.  The new DIY nightstands match our DIY walnut plywood bed – without being too matchy-matchy (my wacky knobs add a little something different).  Plus we made use of what we had!  I love that we could re-purpose the nightstands my grandpa made, and it was so convenient that we could use leftover wood my father-in-law had – and leftover wood finish we had.  The only thing we bought was some screws for my news knobs, a couple of metal pieces to hack the existing nightstand, and then some edge banding because we ran out mid-project.

How to Build a Nightstand with Drawers

A far cry from $2000 for a similar look – EVEN if we’d had to buy all of the wood and metal and start from scratch, these would still be much less expensive and one of a kind.

P.S. Don’t Forget to Pin for Later!

Learn How to Build a DIY Nightstand with Drawers Make This: DIY Nightstand Tutorial


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