We’ve moved SEVERAL times in the last few years, but this last time was rather odd. I literally sold almost everything we had so we didn’t have to move it. Then, RIGHT BEFORE WE PACKED UP THE SHOP, I built a brand new DIY modern bedroom set with this oversized DIY modern nightstand and a DIY modern bed.
I think I just panicked. I was afraid I’d be without a shop for forever (a little dramatic, I know), so I felt some strong urge to build a bunch of crap I didn’t need last minute.
Also, when I sold our old bedroom set, Danny told me not to build a new one until we moved because he was afraid I would change my mind on what I wanted. But, after one night on a mattress on the floor, he turned to me in the morning and asked “how quick do you think you could have that new bed built?” HA. You didn’t have to ask me twice 😉 I went to the lumber yard for the stuff THAT DAY.
What he didn’t know is that in addition to the bed, I wanted modern nightstands. He hadn’t agreed to the nightstands. But when I went to the lumber yard, I added a few extra board feet to my order and crossed my fingers that it would be enough to get the nightstands made without Danny knowing 😉
So, I’m sharing the how to here 🙂 I made this whole set out of poplar and it really gave it a modern feel. I was able to build two large nightstands and the bed for about $200 (100 board foot of rough sawn) in poplar. That’s a STEAL. I bought my lumber rough sawn from a local lumber yard because it’s cheaper and planed and milled it down myself, but you could build it with standard construction lumber for about the same cost.
If If you’re looking for the whole matching set including the bed and dressers, check these out:.
I’ve got the video tutorial for these modern nightstands here, and the plans and step by step below 🙂
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Here’s what you’ll need per DIY Modern Nightstand:
- (1) 1x10x8 (top)
- (3) 2x2x8 (frame)
- (2) 1x8x8 (side panels and drawer fronts)
- (2) 1x6x8 (drawer boxes)
- 1/2 sheet 1/4″ plywood (drawer box bottoms)
- Dowel Jig
- Wood Glue
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
- 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws
- Miter Saw
- Circular Saw or Table Saw
- Router (optional)
- Rabbeting bit (optional)
- (2) pair 16″ drawer slides
- (2) large modern drawer pulls
Step 1: Cut and Assemble Side Frames for DIY Modern Nightstand
I made my nightstand from poplar. Some big box stores and some local lumber yards will have poplar, but many of them will not have poplar in anything other than 1xs. So, if you are going that route (like me), you’ll have to make your own 2x2s for the frame by gluing 1xs together and ripping them down to 1 1/2″ square. OR, you can grab some standard pine 2x2s from the store instead.
This was my first time using dowels and it wasn’t difficult, but you HAVE to pay attention to where you line up your jig to drill your holes so they will line up. As long as you pay CLOSE attention, it’s super easy. But, if desired, you can always pocket hole them together as well 🙂
Basically, to assemble the frame with dowels, you just drill a hole SLIGHTLY deeper than 1/2 the length of your dowel into both pieces you are joining. Then you apply wood glue, insert the dowel, then squeeze (clamp) together while the glue dries.
Step 2: Add Side Panels to DIY Modern Nightstand Frames
Once I had two frames (after the glue dried from step 1!) assembled, now it’s time to add the panels. For this, I glued (or pocket hole screw if desired) two pieces of 1×8 together to make a panel about 15″ long and 14″ wide. Typical 1x8s are 7 1/4″ wide, so gluing two together will make 14 1/2″ wide…so just trim these down once glued. OR, feel free to use 3/4″ plywood and cut to size.
.Drill 3/4″ pocket holes along the two long edges and attach like shown using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.
Step 3: Assemble the Remaining Nightstand Frame
Now that the two side panels are assembled, next is the rest of the frame. There will be a 2×2 at the top front, back front, and back bottom. I cut three of these and attached using dowels (or pocket holes and screws if you wish).
Step 4: Add Decorative Edge to Nightstand Frame
Using a router and a rabbeting bit, I cut a small (about 1/8″ deep) notch around the edge of the top of the frame. This is totally optional and serves no other purpose other than I just thought it looked cool haha. It makes it look like there’s a “riser” or something between the frame and the top.
Step 5: Add Top to Nightstand
I glued two pieces of 1×10 together to make a panel for the top. I wanted it to be exactly the same size as the top of the frame–so no overhang. Gluing together two 1×10 will give you a width of 18 1/2″. So to get it the right size, I just trimmed down after the glue dried.
I sanded and glued the top panel onto the top of the nightstand frame. The top should sit flush on all sides. NOTE: After building this I learned this isn’t the correct way to attach tops because of the issue of wood movement.
That said, I’ve had these nightstands for over two years, two moves, and it spent a summer in an outdoor storage shed while we built our home. It’s never had any issues with wood movement. So, take that for what it’s worth. However, you can see how you’re SUPPOSED to attach table tops correctly in this post.
Step 6: Install Drawers
The last step in building these nightstands is to install the drawers. I built two drawers for each nightstand for this from plywood scraps and used poplar for the fronts so it would match the rest of the piece. You can see how I assemble drawers in this post.
First, I attached the 16″ slides to the carcass.
For my drawer boxes, I ripped some scrap plywood to about 6″ wide. But you could also use 1×6 boards for this instead. I assembled the drawers with dadoes for the bottoms and pocket holes and screws for the sides.
Then, I installed them into the nightstand carcass on the drawer slides. This comprehensive guide on building and installing drawer boxes will help 🙂
Once everything was lined up, I cut two pieces of poplar for the drawer fronts and screwed these in from the inside of the drawer leaving 1/8″ gap on all sides for clearance.
The last thing is to finish the piece and add drawer pulls. First, the finish.
I used natural color Watco Danish Oil. I wanted the natural color of the poplar to show up, but wanted something that would dry “clean” and not still feel oily even after it’s dry. Sometimes I use mineral oil for a natural finish…but it never really dries. Danish oil does, though 🙂
Now let’s talk about this hardware. I love these Liberty Artesia drawer pulls. I used them in my kitchen, on my closets, in my laundry room, my mom’s entertainment center. I highly recommend them. I used the 17″ long ones on these nightstands.
And, that’s it! This two drawer DIY modern nightstand is complete and ready to start filling up. NOTE: If both drawers of this nightstand open at the same time, it could potentially tip over due to the weight distribution. It’s recommended to anchor to the wall once complete.
I love the variation here in the wood. I know some people hate poplar, but I really love the look. I love leaving it out in the sun to darken some after oiling. Did you know wood “tans” in the sun? It does…it’s crazy how much darker it can get just from sun.
If you’ve enjoyed this project, don’t forget to pin this for later 🙂
Until next time, happy building! 🙂