5 Steps to Building a Nightstand

If you’re a DIY beginner, building a nightstand can be a perfect project for you. You can start by making a basic frame and then customizing it the way you like. 

To build a nightstand, prepare all the tools and materials, cut the boards according to the given dimensions, attach the side, bottom, top, and back panels to make the box, put together the drawers, slide them in, and give it your desired finish. 

In the rest of the article, we’ll break down the steps of making a nightstand and three different nightstands with different levels of difficulty and varying styles. We’ll show you how to build a nightstand with a drawer, a nightstand with a hidden compartment, and a nightstand without drawers.

Tools and Materials  

  • Kreg Jig
  • Tablesaw
  • Jigsaw
  • Miter saw
  • Sander
  • Drill
  • Clamps
  • Five 8′ 1″ ×6″ common pine boards
  • Three 8′ 2″ ×2″ poplar boards
  • One 8′ 1″ ×4″ common pine board
  • Three pairs of full extension 16″ drawer slides
  • Three drawer pulls
  • 1.25″ pocket hole screws
  • Stain

Cut List

  • Three 19.9″ 1″ ×6″s
  • One 6.5″ 2″ ×2″s
  • Two 26″ 2″ ×2″s

Now, get ready to build your elegant nightstand.

Assemble the Sides

  1. Take the 1″ ×6″ s and 2″ ×2″ s and drill pocket holes in them. Kreg K4, Kreg R3, and Kreg Mini are perfect tools to get pocket holes with similar qualities. If you don’t have a Kreg Jig, no worries. You can still make pocket holes without one. Here’s a video that teaches you how to do that: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T_iRl3OgxcM
  2. Attach the 1″ ×6″ side panels. First, glue them down and then use 1.25″ pocket hole screws to get a strong bond.
  3. Assemble the two 2″ ×2″ s on the panel. One of the boards goes on the top, and the other goes on the bottom. Then attach the 2″ ×2″ s on the sides.
  4. The nightstand’s back panel is similar to the front, only without the 2″ ×2″ s that go on the right and left sides. Assemble it by attaching the top and bottom 2″ ×2″ s.

Add the Back and Front Stretchers

Attach the back and the two side panels. Make sure you join them with an exact 90-degree angle. Use a positioning square with clamps to hold each side tightly in place while you attach them.

Now, it’s time to build the top with the three 16.5″ 1×6s and the 16.5″ 2″ ×2″ frame. Then you can assemble it on the front side of the panel.  

Lay this piece on the working table and clamp it down to fix it in place. First, screw the top panel to the back and then add the two side parts. Attach the three remaining 16.5″ 2″ ×2″ s. They’re the front stretchers. First, add the bottom stretcher and level it with the 2″ ×2″ s on the bottom sides.

Now, place spaces between the second and third stretchers using the 5.9″ spacers. This way, you’ll give the drawer fronts a top and bottom 1/16″ reveal.

Put Together the Drawers 

With the body of your nightstand completed, now you can build the drawers.

  1. Take the openings’ precise measurements to have enough space, like 0.5″ on each side for drawer slides.
  2. Cut the 1×6s into six 16″-long boards for side pieces and six 14″-long pieces for the front and back sides. The sides and front pieces need groves cut in them to accommodate the bottom panel.
  3. Use a table saw to cut 0.25″-deep, 0.25″-wide grooves on the bottom of the inside faces. It shins side faces’ bottom of the board. The front and back drawer pieces need pocket holes in their outside faces on both ends.
  4. Lay the top edges on the table.
  5. Use 1.25″ pocket hole screws to assemble the drawer.
  6. Make the grooves face inward and align them on the points in the corners where they meet. The grooves create a U-shaped channel that is open on the backside. 
  7. Now, you need a bottom board that matches the size of the panel to go into it a panel’s size side.
  8. Drive the panel in and join it with the drawer’s back piece using 0.75″ screws.

Attach the Drawer Slides

The final step is to add the drawer slides. The panels’ inside and the frame have a 0.75″ difference between them since the frame and the outside are flush.

  1. Cut six cleats out of the 1″ ×4″ boards, each measuring 15.9″.
  2. Place the drawer slides on the cleats and attach them to the panel’s inside.
  3. Drill 0.25″ holes in the cleats’ corners and attach them to the body of the nightstand.
  4. Read the drawer slide constructions for the perfect height.
  5. Now, it’s time to attach the drawer extensions. Because of the 2″ ×2″ frame and the false drawer front, you need to place them with a 0.75″ space from the drawer’s front.

You’re almost there. All you need to do is apply the finish and install the drawers.

  1. Attach the drawers to see if you need any adjustments in the fronts. 
  2. Attach them from the back after cutting the false fronts to size. This way, you’ll have enough room to adjust the front so that it has perfect reveals.

Finish Off 

  1. Apply wood stain or paint to the drawer fronts before installing the drawer pulls. Some experienced carpenters recommend staining or painting the boards before assembling. 
  2. Drill holes through the drawer box and the false front, and attach the drawer pulls.

How to Make a Nightstand With Drawers

This nightstand does not require a long shopping list. All you need is a wood crate to turn it into a bedside cabinet in simple steps. 

Tools and Materials 

  • Circular saw
  • Sanding block
  • Tape measure
  • 1.25″ Brad nails
  • Stain and brushes
  • Two 18″ × 12.5″ × 9.5″ Wooden crates
  • Two 8′ 1″ ×4″ pine boards
  • One 8′ 1″ × 2″ pine board
  • One 23/32″ ×2′ ×2′ sanded plywood

Cut List

  • Cut the 8′ 1″ ×2″ board into six 13.25″ panels.
  • Cut one of the 8′ 1″ ×4″ boards into four 23.9″ vertical boards.
  • Cut the other 8′ 1″ ×4″ board into four 18.25″ boards for the back.
  • Cut the sanded plywood board into a 20.25″ ×13.75″ section.

Assemble the Pieces

Before assembling the nightstand, paint or stain the boards if you want them in different colors. Set them aside to dry completely, and then start making the DIY crate nightstand.

  1. To build the side frames, place two 23.9″ boards with a 6.5″ space between them.
  2. Lay two 13.5″ pieces over the two vertical boards on both ends, and put the third 13.25″ piece exactly in the middle of the two.
  3. Use your brad nailer to attach the vertical boards to the sideboard pieces. Do the same with the other two vertical boards and three sideboards. 
  4. Place the new panel next to the previous sideboard you made to ensure all the pieces are aligned with the same amount of space between them.
  5. Lay the four 18.5″ pieces on the table with equal spaces between them. Don’t worry about spacing since you can align them later.
  6. Now, put the sideboards vertically on both sides of the panels.
  7. Attach the sideboards and bottom boards using your brad nailer.
  8. Position the plywood board on the frame’s top with an extra 0.25″ sticking out on the four sides.
  9. Join it to the frame with the brad nailer.
  10. Now, you’re almost there. All that’s left is to slide the wooden crates inside the frame, one below the middle board and one above the middle panel.

That’s it. With two wooden frames and straightforward steps, you made yourself a functional and stylish nightstand.

How to Build a Nightstand With a Hidden Compartment 

This nightstand is versatile since you can use it as a side table, a cabinet, or a desk extension. It has a simple design that you can complete in just a day. 

Tools and Materials 

  • Four 8′ 1″ ×4″ pine boards
  • Two 8′ 1″ ×3″ pine boards
  • Two 8′ 1″ ×3″ pine boards
  • One 48″ ×96″ ×0.75″ plywood
  • One 48″ ×48″ ×0.5″ plywood
  • 1.25″ pocket hole screws
  • Wood glue
  • Paint or stain
  • Brad nails
  • Decorative Door hinges
  • Cabinet door pull

Cut List

  • Side panels: Cut the 0.75″ plywood into two 30″ ×18.25″ boards.
  • Top and bottom panels: Cut the 0.75″ plywood into two 24″ ×19.25″ panels.
  • Backboard: Cut the 0.25″ plywood into a 30″ ×25.5″ board.
  • Cabinet door: Cut the 0.25″ plywood into a 21.75″ ×23.75″ board.
  • Middle shelf: Cut the 0.75″ plywood into a 24″ ×18.25″ board.
  • Frames: Cut one of the 1″ ×4″ boards into two 28.5″, a 16.5″ and a 22″ boards.

Trim Boards

  • Cut the second 1″ ×4″ boards into two 28.5″ and two 16.5″ boards.
  • Cut the third 1″ ×4″ boards into two 28.5″ and a 24.75″ (with 10-degree miters on both ends) boards.
  • Cut the fourth 1″ ×4″ boards into three 24.35″ boards with 10-degree miters on both ends and a 16.5″ board.
  • Cut the 1″ ×3″ piece into two 30″ and one 22″ boards.
  • Cut the 1″ ×3″ board into two 23.75″ and two 16.75″ boards.
  • Cut the first 1″ ×2″ board into three 30″ boards.
  • Cut the second 1″ × 2″ board into a 30″ and a 24″ board.

Make the Box

  1. Join the plywood panels to make the box.
  2. Make 0.75″ pocket holes on the top and bottom boards.
  3. Use both glue and nails for all the attachments to make sure you’ll have strong bonds.
  4. Attach the bottom board to the sideboards.
  5. To make the nightstand’s feet, allow for a 3.5″ space off the ground and attach the bottom panel. 
  6. You’ll have three horizontal pieces: one goes in the middle, and the other two serve as the top and bottom panels. Assemble the top board flush with the top of the side panels.
  7. Attach the middle shelf flush with the side panels’ back to have room for the trim board.
  8. Attach the back panel using glue and nails.

Add the Trim Boards

  1. Attach the 24″ trim board to the front of the middle board.
  2. Glue and nail the side trim boards.
  3. Attach two 28.5″ boards on top and bottom, horizontally, and two 30″ boards on sides, vertically.
  4. Make them flush with the front and back of the side panel.
  5. Attach the mitered 24.35″ boards diagonally on the sideboard. Their bottom should go on the side board’s two bottom corners and make a 30-degree angle on top.
  6. Drill pocket holes on both ends of the 22″ long 1″ ×4″ and 1″ ×3″ boards, pointing outwards. The former goes on top, and the latter goes on the bottom of the face frame. The two sideboards of the face frame are the 30″-long 1″ ×3″ boards.
  7. Assemble the four pieces with 1.25″ pocket hole screws to make a rectangular frame.
  8. Attach the frame to the front face of the nightstand.

Build the Nightstand Door

  1. For the nightstand’s door, assemble the vertical 23.75″ and the horizontal 16.75″ pieces on its four sides. 
  2. Attach the 21.75″ plywood on the back of this frame. When you install the door, it should have 1/8″ clearance on four sides.
  3. Attach the door with a pair of hinges.
  4. The six 28.5″ planks serve as the top panel of the nightstand. Glue and nail them down on the top, overhanging on all sides.

Add the Top Board and Apply Finish

Finally, attach the door pull by drilling holes and screwing it down. If you wish, you can fill the screw holes. But if you want to give it a weathered rustic look, you can leave the exposed nails as they are.

To give the top piece a planked look, you could break the six planks into smaller pieces. You could get a small magnet closure and attach it to the bottom of the upside of the nightstand to catch the door when it closes.

If you plan to stain, attach the boards on the panels by screwing nails from the inside. But if you wish to paint, you can nail from the outside and then fill the holes.

How to Build a Nightstand Without Drawers

This is a basic nightstand that looks like a shelf and is very cheap to build. It’s perfect for you if you’re a beginner.

Cut List 

  • One 4″ ×8″ × 0.75″ plywood cut into two 16″ boards
  • One 8′ 1″ ×2″ × pine board
  • Two 8′ 1″ ×4″ pine boards

Prepare the Boards

  1. Cut the 16″ boards into two 26″ pieces for the side panel.
  2. Cut three 20″ boards to serve as the shelf, top, and bottom pieces.
  3. Drill 0.75″ pocket holes and use 1.25″ pocket hole screws to attach the pieces.

Make the Box

  1. Lay one of the side pieces on the table and place the top board flush with its top.
  2. Go down 8″ and place the middle shelf.
  3. Attach it with glue and 1.25″ pocket hole screws.
  4. Now, attach the bottom piece like the other two pieces.
  5. Attach the other side piece. Now, you have a box with a shelf inside it.

Attach the Trim Pieces and Finish

  1. Add the trim pieces. For the side pieces, you’ll have the 26”, and for the top and bottom, you’ll have two 18.5″ trim boards.
  2. Attach the planks on top.
  3. Cut five 22″ planks out of the 1″ ×4″ pine boards. They overhang 0.5″ on all sides. So, to give it a more professional look, you can sand the edges to give it a rounded look.
  4. Use your desired finish like stain or paint.

Optional: You could add two locking casters to the bottom, giving it a cool look and making it easier to move.


Building a nightstand is pretty straightforward, lending itself to different woodworking skill levels. If you have the right material, necessary tools, and a clear plan, you can put together a stylish nightstand with a professional look. To build your nightstand, make sure to:

  • Prepare the materials and tools beforehand.
  • Make precise measurements and cut.
  • Sand off the rough edges and surfaces.
  • Apply paint or stain before assembling.
  • Use glue and screws or nails together.

Always remember to follow safety measures. Wear safety gloves and glasses. Make sure you know how to operate power tools safely. 

Finally, if you’re afraid of woodworking, get your foot wet and try one of these basic plans to have the pleasure of creating something practical and all having the fun that comes with woodworking.


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