How To Build Your Own Nightstands (Even If You're New to Woodworking)

How To Build Your Own Nightstands (Even If You're New to Woodworking)

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Cate Henderson
Sep 29, 2017
You can make these - really, you can!
(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

Even as a self-proclaimed "maximalist," I still find myself drawn to the clean lines and effortless simplicity of Scandinavian style. The soft, neutral color palette is very versatile in a variety of spaces without adding too much visual weight. If you're down with hygge (and willing to try your hand at some amateur carpentry), then these nightstands are definitely for you.

If I lost you at "amateur carpentry," let me assure you, you can make a pair of these with a couple household items, minimal power tools, some cheap speciality tools, and one piece of wood. The instructions are a bit on the technical side, but I am confident that if you follow along, we can build something great together!

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

What You Need

Materials

1" x 12" x 8' wood board - I chose pine
Leather or vinyl ribbon in your choice of thickness - at least 4 yards in length
8 tapered furniture legs (15.5"H)
8 angled top plates
Pack of 1.5-inch pocket hole screws with square drives (get a pack with coarse threads if you are using a softwood like pine)

Tools
Staple Gun
Measuring Tape
Scissors
Drill
Mini Kreg Jig Pocket Hole Kit (with Kreg Drill Bit)
C-Clamp
Square nut driver
Corner Clamp
Superglue
Binder Clips
Needle & Thread
Pencil

Instructions

Construct the top boxes
1. Have the hardware store cut your board down into the 8 panels you'll need to make the boxes–most big box stores have wood cutting stations these days, but you can of course do this yourself if you prefer. You'll need 4 pieces cut to 6.25 inches in length (to be the side panels of the nightstand boxes) and 4 pieces cut to 17 inches (to be the top and bottom panels). This should leave you with somewhere south of an extra 3 inches to account for any length you'll lose each time the machine makes a cut. Use the diagram below:

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

2. Once your board is cut down, you're ready to make pocket holes, the holes that will hide the screws used to join the box together. Align the Kreg jig along the short edge of one of the 17-inch long panels according to your board's thickness (mine needed the jig flush with the edge). I doesn't matter how far in from the long edge you place it, but I chose to set mine about 3 inches in. Clamp in place so that it is secured to the panel, as well as anchored to your work surface.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

3. Using your Kreg drill bit, drill your first pocket hole.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until you have 4 total pocket holes, one near each corner, on one side of each of the 17-inch long panels. The holes will be hidden on the underside of top and bottom panels of the nightstand boxes once assembled.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

5. Choose one of your 17-inch panels to be the top of your nightstand. Butt the 1-inch edge of the long panel up to a 6.25-inch side panel. This is called a butt joint when the edges of a board meet at a right angle. Use the corner clamp to hold the two panels securely in place. Make sure the pocket holes are facing the side panel so that they are hidden inside the box when assembled.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

6. Use the power drill with the square driver to sink a pocket screw into the pocket hole closest to the corner clamp. The butt joint will allow the screws to go through the pocket holes and into the face of the side panel.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

7. Move the corner brace to the other side and repeat steps 5 and 6.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

8. Repeat steps 5-7 to add the second 6.25-inch side panel.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

9. Following the same methods as steps 5 and 6, attach whichever panel you chose to be your bottom panel to the other three sides of the box. Make sure the pocket hole orientation is the same as the top panel so that the top panel's holes will be hidden on the inside the box and the bottom panel's holes will be on the underside of the completed box.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

Attach the legs

10. To attach the legs to the underside of the completed box, place your leg brackets equidistant from the corners of the bottom panel (the one with the exposed pocket holes). I angled my brackets inward so that the legs would fan out from underneath the box.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

11. Screw in the brackets. If you're using a softwood like pine, I suggest drilling a pilot hole (a hole with a smaller diameter than your screw) to prevent splitting.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

12. Twist the legs into the brackets.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

13. Flip over to admire your budding carpentry skills. Repeat steps 5-12 to assemble the other night stand. Now you're ready to add the decorative straps.

Add leather straps

14. Mark the legs where you would like the straps to hit. I chose to place mine approximately 7.25 inches up the leg (think Grandma's knee-highs, as opposed to a garter belt).

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

15. Measure the diagonal length between the marks on your legs (from the front right to the back left or vice versa) while they are screwed into their brackets and then add an extra 6 inches just to be safe. Cut two lengths of leather ribbon to this length (mine were about 23 inches) and stitch together at the center point to create an X.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

16. Suspend the X-shape by clipping the straps around the diameter of the legs at the marked point you made in step 14 (Grandma's knee-highs remember?).

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

17. Working from leg to leg, tighten the straps until the center of the X is equidistant to each leg, approximately 8.5 inches.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

18. Once you've removed the slack from the leather and the X-shape is centered, you're ready to secure each strap in place. Wrap the strap around each leg at your marked point, tucking the edge of the ribbon underneath (trim excess as needed). Secure in place with your staple gun at the innermost side of each leg. Repeat steps 14-18 on your second nightstand.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

19. Cut a pair of 2-inch strips from the left over leather ribbon. Loop a strip around the stitched joint of the leather straps on each nightstand. Apply glue to secure the two ends of the strip. Make sure you glue on the backside of each nightstand so you don't see any seams from the front. Hold in place with a clip until the glue sets.

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

Congratulations, you've passed Carpentry 101–and have a beautiful pair of nightstands to prove it!

(Image credit: Cate Henderson)
(Image credit: Cate Henderson)

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