Building nightstands

Rachel had been using a stool as a nightstand but wanted something bigger. So I put some buckets with a board on top in its place to prototype a nightstand for size.


I wanted to make a very minimal design, and in this room I already had this cantilevered work table in it, so I took that as an inspiration for the night table, but with a drawer.

I liked this design enough that I later made a nice set of plans available for it.


I printed 1:1 templates for the parts of the frame to use in the workshop.


I had some 1-inch thick rough sawn oak boards that a friend had given me. The boards were slightly cupped, but I didn't want to lose much thickness to planing, so I cut the parts to width before planing them.


After planing, I cut the parts to length with my crosscut sled.


By now Rachel decided that two night stands would be better than one, and it isn't that much more work to make two. Here I have my cut parts stacked on the bench next to the respective templates to make sure I have enough. At this point, I just rough cut them out before planing them.


But when planing, there is always a bit of planer snipe at the start and end. But if pieces are fed into the planer back to back, the only snipe is at the start of the first piece and the end of the last piece.


I had rough cut the leg pieces as triangles to nest them better. Now making final sizing cuts, here cutting the straight part on the wide end of the triangle.


Then cutting the sloped part. Microjig sent me this sled two years ago to use with some of their dovetail clamps. This is the first time using this sled, for this application, it was just right. I used some clamps to attach blocks to the sled as stops, lining those up with the template I cut out, then clamping on the workpiece and making the cut. With four of these to cut out, the sled was worth using. Otherwise, I would have just cut it out on the bandsaw and straightened the edge on the jointer.


Parts all cut to size, now marking the locations of the mortises on the pieces. I just set the marking gauge straight off the 1:1 drawings than marked on the pieces without even looking at the dimensions on the drawings.


Cutting the mortises. I cut these by making a series of plunge cuts with a spiral router bit to take out most of the material, then sweeping side to side to smooth the sides.


The mortises in the legs are 4 cm deep for maximum strength. I had to plunge the bit in to its full length. But the flutes are only long enough for cutting half as deep, so I had to plunge in and out a few times to clear the chips.

After the first plunge, I overlapped the next hole slightly with the previous hole so the chips could clear into the previous hole.


Next I cut the tenons. I quite enjoyed using my quick-set tenon jig when I made these shelf brackets so I used that again instead of the pantorouter. The quick-set tenon jig is much faster to set up than the pantorouter. I first made a test tenon to check the fit, then cut the tenons.


After cutting the sides of the tenons I cut the shoulders of the tenon using a small table saw sled.


And trimming the side edges of the tenon. I only needed to take about 1 mm off, so I cut that just by sliding them side to side over the saw blade.


Then rounding the edges of the tenon using my bigger strip sander


Finally cleaning up the inside corners of the tenons.

By this time I was thinking I should have used my pantorouter to cut these tenons instead. It takes longer to set it up, but the tenons the pantorouter makes are ready to assemble without further steps.

With softwood, these manual steps are quicker, and they don't need to be as precise because if the corners don't fit exactly, you can just bang them in anyway.


Dry fitting the whole frame together.


And plywood for the top.


Making the top


Before gluing the frames together, I sanded a slight roundover on all the edges my belt sander. I shaped the roundover by tilting each edge back and forth against the running sander.


I also drilled the holes for the screws for attaching the top. First a large deep hole for the screw head, then a smaller hole all the way trough for the screw's shank.


Then gluing together the mortise and tenon joints.


Making the drawers


Screwing the top to the frame, this was easiest to do upside down.


And it seems if I don't do a "jump test" at the end of one of my projects, people seem to think something is missing. But these tables aren't very high. So I staked the two on top of each other and jumped onto that!


And finally next to the bed (this bed)

I used an oil based varnish because that brings out the colour of the oak much nicer. Rachel really likes the raised trim to keep stuff from falling off.

The legs don't extend as far back as the top so that it fits nicely over the baseboard heater. The open design on the bottom also won't block a furnace heat register and can also accomodate a wastebasket underneath.



Homemade machinery shown used:


More furniture projects: