Simple Contemporary Black Nightstand Plans

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Free DIY plans to build your own sleek, black, contemporary nightstand with three drawers to help keep your bedside clutter at bay. Features big, recessed, stainless steel lift handles for drawer pulls.

This black, closed nightstand has contemporary styling. Three large drawers provide storage for convenient items you'd like to have near your bed such as reading glasses, books, magazines as well as clothes storage for items that don't fit in your dresser. They make great sock and underwear drawers or storage for your pajamas and other sleepwear.

The recessed lift handles help to give it more of an industrial look. For the sailor the handles will bring back a feeling of being out cruising as they are typical of handles used on boats. You can choose to install one or two handles per drawer depending on the look you're after.

Dimensions

Dimensions: 20 1/2"W x 24"H x 17"D

What You'll Need

Materials

  • (2) 3/4" Plywood 2' x 4' (Carcass)
  • (1) 1/2" Plywood 2' x 4' (Drawer Boxes)
  • (1) 1/4" Plywood 2' x 4' (Drawer Bottoms)
  • (1') 2x2 Board
  • (1) 1x2 6' Board
  • (1) 1x3 8' Board
  • (1) 1x8 6' Board (Drawer Fronts)
  • (15') 3/4" Veneer Edgebanding
  • (3) Recessed Drawer Pulls
  • (3) Drawer Slides (pairs)
  • Assorted Sandpaper
  • Primer and Paint (or pre-stain, stain and finish coat)

Tools

  • Drill and assorted bits
  • Miter Box or Miter Saw
  • Circular saw with guide, track saw or table saw
  • Kreg Jig
  • Chisels
  • Hammer
  • Iron (for edgebanding)
  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Sanding block or finish sander
  • Painting supplies
Make sure you understand how to use all the tools properly and follow all safety precautions.

Cut-List

  • (2) 15 5/8" x 22 1/4" Sides (3/4" Ply)
  • (1) 18 1/2" x 22 1/4" Back (3/4" Ply)
  • (1) 14 1/2" x 18 1/2" Bottom (3/4" Ply)
  • (1) 12" x 15 1/2" Top (3/4" Ply)
  • (4) 18 1/2" x 4" Stretchers (3/4" Ply)
  • (6) 4 1/2" x 17 5/8" Drawer Box Front/Back (1/2" Ply)
  • (6) 4 1/2" x 12" Drawer Box Sides (1/2" Ply)
  • (3) 12 3/8" x 17" Drawer Bottoms (1/4" Ply)
  • (4) 1" Feet (2x2)
  • (2) 17" Base Front/Back * (1x2)
  • (2) 13" Base Sides (1x2)
  • (2) 20 1/2" Top Edge Front/Back (1x3)
  • (2) 17" Top Edge Sides (1x3)
* Some drawer slides may require a different size drawer box. Check the specs for your slides to determine the width of the drawer box.

Cut Plan

Plywood

The plan calls for using 2' x 4' (quarter) sheets of plywood. If you plan on making 2 nightstands you can save a little bit of money by buying 1 full sheet of the 3/4" plywood. If you don't have an easy way to transport such a large sheet you might still want to go with 2' x 4' sheets because they're easier to transport. Home Depot has a few different species of 2' x 4' PureBond hardwood veneered plywood available on their website which are eligible for free shipping. Takes all the hassle out of buying plywood. Click the image on the right to explore their options in their lumber department. The PureBond plywood is made by Columbia Forest Products using Soy Based adhesives and is formaldehyde free.

Note on Edgebanding: Depending on the thickness of the edgebanding you use, you may need to cut some of the pieces a little smaller to accommodate. The kraft paper backed Edgemate edgebanding is only .022" (~ 3/128) thick which is too think to account for in a piece like this.

3/4" Plywood

Whether you're painting or staining your nightstand some of the grain texture will still show through so it's important to get plywood that has a nice grain structure such as red oak, maple, walnut, cherry, etc.

1/2" Plywood

A good choice for the drawer boxes is 1/2" maple plywood. HomeDepot.com offers PureBond 1/2 in. x 2 ft. x 4 ft. Maple Plywood at an affordable price which is currently eligible for free shipping.


If you don't have a table saw or router: it might be easier to make the rabbet cuts (discussed bellow in more detail) before you cut out the drawer box sides using a guide and a circular saw. That way the rabbets will line up perfectly on  at least 3 of the sides.

1/4" Plywood

The 1/4" Plywood is used for the drawer bottoms. Any 1/4" plywood (not MDF) will do such as PureBond 1/2 in. x 2 ft. x 4 ft. Maple Plywood.

Boards

All of the boards below should be of a wood that matches the species of the plywood you're using for the nightstand carcass. This is especially true if you're planing on staining the nightstand. It's a little less important if you're going to paint the cabinet, which is recommended for getting an even black finish, but still best to get the same species. 

2x2

You only need about 4" but get at least 12" so you have something to hold onto while making the cuts.  Actual dimensions will be 1 1/2" x 1 1/2". Board should be S4S (surfaced 4 sides). These will make up the legs of the nightstand. Use a stop-block on your miter saw to ensure all pieces are the same height. If you'd like to increase the size of your nightstand you can make these legs longer.

1x2

Actual dimensions are 3/4" x 1 1/2". This will be the apron around the base of the nightstand, between the legs.

1x3

These pieces will form the edge around the nightstand top to give it a nicer look. Actual dimensions are 3/4" x 2.5".

1x8

The 1x8's make up the drawer fronts. An appearance grade S4S board in a species that matches your 3/4" plywood. Actual dimensions will be 3/4" x 7.25".

Step 1

Begin by cutting out the 3/4" Plywood pieces for the Sides, Back, Bottom and Stretchers of the nightstand. The cut plan assumes the direction of the grain is running along the long end of the plywood boards. The plan calls for the grain on the sides to run up/down. The grain direction for the back and bottom aren't as important since they won't be seen. If the grain on your plywood runs in a different direction or you'd like to have the grain running in a different direction on your nightstand, make the appropriate changes to your cut plan.

It is important that the bottom piece is 3/4" shorter than the width of the sides (before applying edgebanding) so that the drawer fronts fit flush.

Step 2

Drill all pocket holes as shown and attach the veneer edgebanding to the front of the bottom piece. Attach the bottom piece to the back as shown using wood glue and 1-1/4" coarse thread pan head screws.

Step 3

Drill 1 or 2 pocket holes on the inside top middle of each side panel to attach the top later. Apply edgebanding to the front and back of the side pieces. Then screw the sides to the bottom and back using wood glue and 1-1/4" coarse thread Maxi-Loc head pocket hole screws in the holes previously drilled on the back and bottom.

Step 4

The 4 stretchers should be the same width as the back and bottom pieces to hold the cabinet carcass square.  Apply edgebanding to the front of 3 of the 4 stretchers that will be installed in the front of the nightstand. Recheck for square and attach the stretchers as shown using 1-1/4" coarse thread Maxi-Loc screws and wood glue.

Step 5

Temporarily attach the cabinet side half of the drawer glides to the cabinet following the specifications for the slides you purchased. You will need to remove and replace them when painting the cabinet but it's much easier to mark and align them before the top goes on.

Step 6

Cut and assemble the pieces for the top of the nightstand making sure it's square. The mitered 1x3's are cut to 2 different lengths. The top should be 1/2" wider and 1" deeper than the nightstand carcass. Use wood glue and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws.


Hint: It's best to cut the mitered boards after you cut the plywood and cut them a little longer than necessary. Cut them back after dry fitting them around the plywood top. It's important that the 2 pairs of boards are the same length to get a tight mitered corners. Cut one board, then cut just one side of the next board and stack the two together on top of your miter saw and use the first piece to help guide the cut.

Align the top with the nightstand. It should be flush with the back, overhang 1/4" on each side and 1" at the front. Secure the top with wood glue and 1-1/4" pocket hole screws from the sides of the cabinet and 1-1/4"  countersunk wood screws from the stretchers up into the top.

The Bosch Clic-Change 7-Piece Phillips Bit and Countersinking Set will drill the pilot holes and countersinks at the same time. The set doesn't come with the Clic-Change chuck but the bits will fit in a normal chuck. You just won't get the quick change feature. 

Step 7

Cut and assemble the base components so they will be flush with the bottom of the back and sides of the carcass. Use 1-1/4" fine thread Maxi-Loc head screws for the pocket holes and wood glue for the base. To attach the base to the cabinet use wood glue and pre-drill and countersink for 1-1/4" wood fine thread wood screws from the 1x2 pieces up into the carcass.

Step 8

Before cutting the pieces for the drawer boxes, measure the actual width or the nightstand opening and the actual width of your 1/2" plywood. The drawer slides need to be aligned well and the cabinet square for them to operate effectively. Make any corrections necessary when building your drawer boxes.

You will need to cut a 1/4" x 1/4" rabbet 1/2" up from the bottom of all the drawer box sides. If you have a router with a guide or router table or a table saw this is very easy but you can also cut the rabbet out with a circular saw set at only 1/4" deep and a cutting guide.. You might need to make 2 passes. Cut a test rabbit in some scrap wood to make sure you're not cutting too deep and make sure the 1/4" plywood edge will fit in the groove.

When using a circular saw I find it best to cut rabbets first, then cut out the 4.5" strips across the entire length of the plywood. Finally I trim the long strips to the right width using a miter saw.

Dry fit the drawer boxes to make sure they fit together right and square. Double check the measurements to make sure it will leave the required space on each side of for the drawer slides (usually 1/2").

Once you're ready, drill 4 pocket holes on the front and back pieces (opposite the side with the rabbet). Don't forge to adjust your Kreg Jig and drill bit for the 1/2" material. Glue and screw 3 of the sides using 1" coarse threaded screws. Slide the 1/4" drawer bottom into the groove but do not glue it. If the 1/4" plywood is slightly bowed (which happens frequently with this thin plywood) try to flatten it out and slide it in with the crown side up. Finally glue and screw the 4th piece to complete the drawer.


If you have a router give the top edges of the drawer a slight round over, otherwise use a file or sander to knock down the edges of the plywood a bit. Or you can cover them with 1/2" maple edgebanding.

Step 9

Attach the other halves of the drawer glides to the drawer boxes according to the drawer glide specs and make sure they work properly.

Step 10

Measure and cut the 1 x 8 board (should be 3/4" x 7 1/4" actual dimensions) for your drawer fronts. Cut them 1/4" shorter than the actual width of your cabinet opening so that there is a 1/8" gap between the sides of the cabinet and the drawer front on each side. Use shims to position the drawer fronts to make sure everything looks fine before continuing. 

Step 11

The lift handles used for drawer pulls need to be recessed into the drawer fronts. Measure and mark the positions on all three drawer fronts. Double check to make sure they all line up, then cut out the recess using either a router or a hammer and chisel.  Use a sharp utility knife to carefully score around the area that needs to be removed to help prevent chipping and splintering.

Step 12

Use double sided tape on the drawer fronts. Starting with the bottom drawer place the drawer front on the drawer box where you'd like it, using shims to get the spacing correct, then press it against the tape to temporarily hold it in place. Repeat for the remaining drawers. Carefully slide the shims between the top and middle drawer out and slide out the top drawer. Drive 4 1" round head wood screws from the inside of the drawer box into the back of the drawer front at the corners to secure it in place. Repeat for the remaining drawer fronts.

Finishing

You can leave the drawer boxes unfinished but 2 coats of a water based finish such as Minwax Water-Based Wipe-On Poly will help seal and protect them.

For the rest of the nightstand you have two options. You can either paint it black or use a black stain. Staining is a little more difficult and time consuming and it can be difficult to get the black stain to look exactly how some people like. Black paint will still allow some of the texture of the wood to show through but won't be as pronounced as staining. Painting will provide a more even color.

Staining Black

Sand and clean the entire nightstand. Apply a pre stain wood conditioner followed by 3-4 coats of a black wood stain such as Minwax Ebony Wood Stain. Finally finish with a water based satin polyurethane.

Painting Black

Sand and clean the entire nightstand and brush on a good quality primer such as Kilz Odorless Interior Oil Based Sealer PrimerZinsser Cover Stain Primer Sealer, or my favorite Zinsser B-I-N Shellac Base Primer & Sealer. After the primer has dried, lightly sand with 220 grit sandpaper.

Follow up with 2 coats of a good black paint such as Benjamin Moore's Aura in satin finish or for a stronger finish Rustoleum Satin Black Protective Enamel Oil Base Paint.

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