Easy Simple Plywood Nightstand Plans

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Free woodworking plans to build simple and easy plywood nightstands that require minimal tools and use ClosetMaid Fabric Drawers for storage. You can also use these as end tables.

I ran across these inexpensive nightstands on Amazon which I thought were pretty cool but they are ridiculously small and unusable in my opinion. I like nightstands that come up to a couple of inches below the top of the mattress. That way they're easy to access but you won't hit your head on the corners if you roll around in your sleep or other things you do in bed. So I decided to build my own based on the design.
The top of my mattress is pretty high as I have a box spring, pretty thick mattress and a memory foam topper. I decided to make the nightstands 20-1/2" tall which was a comfortable height and allowed me to make 4 nightstands out of one sheet of plywood. I maid one pair larger than the other to accommodate the different storage drawers I wanted to use. You can adapt the plans to make nightstands to fit whatever storage drawer you'd like to use and make as many or as few as you want. I needed 4 and I don't like to have too much scrap plywood leftover.

I made one set to fit with the larger ClosetMaid 25066 Deep Fabric Drawer, and two with the smaller ClosetMaid 5878 Cubeicals Fabric Drawers which come in a variety of fun colors. I painted all of them black.

What You'll Need

I'm making 4 nightstands of 2 different sizes and these are the materials I used. If you're making different sizes or different quantities you may need more or less.


Tools & Supplies

Cut List

 I broke out the cut list into 2 sets. One for the bigger nightstand that uses the deep storage drawer and one for the smaller nighstand that uses the Cubeical fabric drawer.

Big Nightstand

  • (2) 20" x 17-1/2" Tops
  • (4) 17" x 16" Shelves
  • (8) 20-3/4" x 4" Legs

Small Cubeical Nightstand

  • (2) 14-1/2" x 14-1/2" Tops
  • (4) 11" x 11" Shelves
  • (8) 20-3/4" x 3" Legs

Cut Plan

Ideally I would have wanted the legs to be maybe an inch longer but at 20-3/4" I could make 4 nightstands of the sizes I wanted out of one sheet of plywood. For aesthetic reasons I wanted the grain on the tops and shelves to run from left to right and on the legs I wanted it to run vertically from top to bottom.

Step 1: Cut out all parts from Plywood

I had an associate at Home Depot make the 4 cross cuts so I could fit the plywood in my cargo area instead of on my roof rack and I made the remaining cuts with my Milwaukee M18 Cordless Circular Saw and my Kreg Rip Cut Jig.

Step 2: Edgebanding and Sanding

Sand the edges where the edge banding is going to be applied to get a nice smooth surface and, clean off any sawdust and start applying the edge banding along the edges shown bellow for the different parts. If you want to save a bit of edgebanding you can skip the backs of the tops and shelves.

Cut the edgebanding slightly larger than the edge and iron it on. Use a roller or scrap wood to press it down firmly after ironing. Let it cool a bit then trim it with a trimmer.

After edgebanding is a good time to sand all the pieces so they're ready for finishing after assembly.

Step 3: Drill Pocket Screw Holes

On the inside top of each leg drill 2 holes so the center of the hole is about 1/2" in from the side of each leg. On the bottom side of each shelf drill 2 holes at each of the 4 spots on the side of the shelf where the legs will connect. Make the holes about 1" from the edge and 1" from where the edge of the leg will be.

Step 4: Mark Shelf Locations on Legs

For each set of legs clamp them together and mark the location of where the tops of each of the shelves will go.Measure from the top to where the top of the shelf will be.

I wanted the toe kick area to be 3-1/2" on all my shelves and then I had to accomodate for the different heights of the fabric drawers. The large, deep drawer needed 8-1/2" of space and the Cubeicle drawer 11-1/4" of space.

So for the Big nightstand legs I made lines at 6-1/2" and 15-3/4" from the top.

For the Cubeicle nightstand I measured 3-3/4" and 15" from the top to make my reference lines for the shelves.

Step 5: Temporarily Attach Legs to Shelf

We're going to start assembly by temporarily attaching one of the shelves so that it's flush with the top of the legs. This isn't going to be it's final position but it will make assembly easier.

It's easiest to do this upside down on a flat surface. Lay one of the shelves upside down and use screws to attach the legs in each corner as shown. Make sure the legs line up squarely with the shelf.

While you're at it also mark the center of the shelf on each of the edges and use a combination square to draw a line on the edge as shown.

Step 6: Attach Bottom Shelf

I used some straight cut scrap wood and quick clamps to hold the bottom shelf in place (remember we're still working upside down. I set the scrap so that it was in line with the reference marks I made previously on the legs so the bottom shelf would line up properly. After checking to see everything looked okay. I applied some wood glue to where the pieces would join and screwed them together while holding them in position.

I don't always feel the need to use glue along with pocket hole joinery but for this design I thought a little extra strength would be helpful.

Step 7: Attach Legs to Top

Start by measuring the center of each edge and marking lines on the underside of the top as shown.

Then place the leg assembly and line up the centermarks on the edge of the side with the reference marks you just drew on the top.

Check to make sure everything looks good, then remove the leg assembly so you can apply some glue to the top of the legs. Place the leg assembly back on the top and line up the marks, clamp it down and start screwing the pocket hole screws to attach the legs to the top.

Once you have all the legs screwed down, unscrew the shelf that we attached temporarily and clean up any glue that spilled over on all pieces using a slightly damp rag.

You may want to fill the temporary screw holes with wood filler and sand it down after it dries.

Step 8: Attach Top Shelf

The final step of assembly is to  attach the top shelf to it's actual location instead of just using it to hold the legs in place.

Just like we did for the bottom shelf, use some straight scrap pieces aligned with the reference marks we made on the legs held with clamps to provide a space for you to rest the shelf.

After checking to see everything looks okay, remove the shelf, apply some glue where the shelf meets the leg and screw the shelf to the legs. Remove the clamps and clean up any glue that oozed out with a damp rag.

Step 9: Finishing

Clean off any sawdust and finish the nighstands as you'd like. I chose to prime and paint mine black but you could also stain and apply polyurethane instead. Follow the directions of the finishing materials you choose.

I wanted to paint mine black. I primed with a water based primer then sanded down the primer with 150 grit sandpaper lightly because water based primers raise the grain. Cleaned up the sanding dust after it had dried and followed with 2 coats of black paint.

Once the paint dries the drawers simply unfold and slide into place.


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