DIY Modern Two Drawer Nightstand

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.

DIY Modern Poplar Bed and matching nightstands

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.

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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.

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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 😉

DIY Modern Nightstand

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.

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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 🙂

This post contains affiliate links.  See disclosure policy for details.

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Here’s what you’ll need per DIY Modern Nightstand:

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.

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I cut my four “legs” from 2x2s at 24″ long, and four top and bottom pieces of my sides from 2x2s at 14″ long.  To assemble the two frames, I used dowels and this awesome dowel jig from Rockler.

Modern nightstand side frame assembly diagram

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 🙂

Use dowels to assemble the frames for DIY modern Nightstand

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.

Drill dowel holes into end of frame pieces for modern nightstand assembly
Apply wood glue into dowel holes to glue up nightstand frame
Insert dowel into dowel holes on joining pieces of wood to build nightstand frame
Glue together modern nightstand frame using dowels
Clamp side frame of modern nightstand while 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.

Side panel and frame assembly diagram for modern nightstand

.Drill 3/4″ pocket holes along the two long edges and attach like shown using 1 1/4″ pocket hole screws.

Attach side panel into nightstand frame using pocket holes and screws
Side panels of DIY modern nightstand assembled
Inside of side panels assembled for DIY modern nightstand

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).

Drill dowel holes to assemble DIY nightstand frame
Insert dowel pins to line up pieces for nightstand frame assembly
Add side panels to nightstand frame
Clamp nightstand frame together while glue dries

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.

Use router to create faux lip along DIY modern nightstand frame top
Rabbeted lip along nightstand frame

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.

Glue up nightstand top boards

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.

Apply glue to attach wooden tops to DIY modern nightstands
Clamp nightstand top until glue dries

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.

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First, I attached the 16″ slides to the carcass.

Screw drawer slides onto body of diy modern nightstand

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 🙂

Drawers installed into modern nightstand frame

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.

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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 🙂

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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.

Plans for the modern bed I built to match can be found here. And plans for the modern dresser to match these nightstands can be found here.

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If you’ve enjoyed this project, don’t forget to pin this for later 🙂

Until next time, happy building! 🙂

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3 Comment

  1. Kelly B
    July 30, 2018 at 2:55 pm

    I love it! Looking forward to your bed reveal!

  2. Andrea
    October 2, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    Can you tell me the dimensions of this nightstand? It is beautiful! I have been shopping around forever, and never finding JUST the right one (under $2500 EACH!), so I think I’ll just build a couple of these beauties. They hit my style markers: modern, but not overtly mid-century to the point that I will get sick of them when that trend wears thin again, and solid wood with clean lines that border on traditional. Oh, also do you have an estimated cost to build? Thanks so much for sharing your plans.

    1. Shara, Woodshop Diaries
      December 15, 2018 at 10:44 am

      These are about 32″ wide I believe and about 25″ tall and 16″ deep (if I remember correctly). The cost would totally depend on the type of wood you use. I used poplar and I bought $200 worth and build a bed and two nightstands from it.

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