Build a Simple Nightstand

Build a Simple Nightstand
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Simple nightstands that can be made from scraps. Uses a simple wood drawer and easy false legs. From Crissie at, a nightstand made from these plans!

Build a Simple Nightstand
Build a Simple Nightstand

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Build a Simple Nightstand

Build a Simple Nightstand
26" Tall x 18 1/2" wide x 15" deep


Common Materials
paint brush
Cut List

Cut List for Simplest Nightstand

  • A) 2 - 1x12 @ 15" (shelves)
  • B) 4 - 1x2 @ 25 1/2" (side piece of legs)
  • C) 4 - 1x3 @ 25 1/2" (front and back pieces of legs)
  • D) 2 - 1/2" plywood 11 1/2" x 5 3/4" (side of drawer box, you could use a 1x12 @ 5 3/4" here)
  • E) 1 - 1/2" plywood 14" x 5 3/4" (back of drawer base)
  • F) 2 - 1x2 @ 11" (drawer guides)
  • G) 1 - 1x2 @ 11 1/2" (bottom front trim)
  • H) 4 - 1x2 @ 8 1/2" (side trim pieces)
  • I) 1 - 1x3 @ 18 1/2" (back countertop piece)
  • J) 1 - 1x12 @ 18 1/2" (front countertop piece)

Cut List for the Simplest Nightstand Drawer

  • K) 1 - 1x10 @ 9 1/2" (Bottom)
  • L) 1 - 1x6 @ 9 1/2" (Back)
  • M) 2 - 1x6 @ 10 1/4" (Sides)
  • N) 1 - 1x6 @ 11" (Face)
Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Circular Saw
Brad Nailer
General Instructions

This is not a beginner project. There are lots of pieces and it will be easy to get off square. Please don't attempt as your first project.


Step 1

1. Legs. Start by attatching the legs together by taking a 1x2x25 1/2" and attatching it to the 1x3x25 1/2" on the long edge, so that the two piece make a leg, as shown below. Do this to make all four legs. Mark each leg 3 1/2" from the bottom. Take care to place the 1x3 part of the leg on the front and back, and the 1x2 part of the legs on the sides, as shown in the below photo. This is very important to make sure your drawer fits properly.

Legs to Shelves. Now attatch the legs to one of the shelf pieces, so the bottom of the shelf is flush with the marks made in step 1. This will give a 3 1/2" clearance under the nightstand. Your nightstand should look as follows. Remember, the 1x3 side of the legs goes on the front and back, and the 1x2 side goes on the sides, as pictured.

Step 2

Legs, Top Shelf. Now mark the legs 5 3/4" from the top edge on the insides. Attatch the top shelf, leaving a clearnace of 5 3/4" from the top edge of the shelf to the top of the piece.

Step 3

Legs, Top Shelf. Now mark the legs 5 3/4" from the top edge on the insides. Attatch the top shelf, leaving a clearnace of 5 3/4" from the top edge of the shelf to the top of the piece.

Step 4

Sides, Drawer Box. Your nighstand should appear as above. If everything was done properly, you can now add the side pieces of plywood. If you choose to use 1x12s for the side pieces of the drawer box, make sure you make the back piece of plywood (E) 1/2" shorter, or specifically 13 1/2 x 5 3/4"

Step 5

Step 6

Front Trim. As shown above, now add the front trim piece onthe bottom edge. Keep the top edge of the trim and the shelf flush.

Step 7

Shelf Trim. As shown above, add the side trim pieces (H) to the bottom shelf, and the bottom of the sides of the drawer box.

Step 8

Top, Back. Now add the back top countertop piece (I) as shown above, leaving a 1" overhand on either side.
I would take a moment to measure the inside of the drawer box and confirm that it is exactly 11" wide and 11" deep. (The depth measurement will actually be 10 1/4 to the bottom shelf, and 11" to the side of the legs).

Top, Front. Add the front countertop piece as shown. Leave a 1" overhand on the sides and front.

Step 9

Drawer. The drawer box is much more simple. Start with the bottom piece and attatch the back piece as shown. You will nail through the back piece into the bottom piece. Then attatch the side piece, nailing through the side piece into the bottom and back pieces.

Drawer. Do the same on the other side. Your drawer should appear as above. Finally, nail the front piece to the drawer. Your drawer should look as follows:

Step 10

Drawer. If you have done everything correctly and exactly, the drawer should be a perfect fit. 14. Finishing. Fill any holes with wood filler and sand and finish as desired. Special thanks to one of our readers, Charissa, for creating this PDF to help you.

Project Type


Ana White (not verified)

Thu, 11/05/2009 - 21:10

FYI - You might want to try this piece after you build up a scrap pile, because it requires a variety of boards. Also, this project has a drawer, and this requires you to be exactly accurate with your cuts and measurements. I guess I am recommending you not start out with this project. Send me pics of your success! Love, Ana

Ana White (not verified)

Sat, 11/07/2009 - 08:22

Another note, to make your drawer slide in and out better, inset the bottom piece just a hair instead of keeping it flush with the sides and the back and front. Then the drawer will slide along the side edges, instead of the entire bottom. Good luck!

Lee (not verified)

Wed, 01/13/2010 - 09:14

Thanks again Ana! This one took a little more head scratching than the other two projects, but was still pretty easy once we got it figured out. Once again, great plans.

Proud Daddy (not verified)

Wed, 01/13/2010 - 16:54

Also one thing you can do to help the drawer slide in and out is to coat the parts that touch each other with vasoline. Mainly the outer edges of the drawer and the two drawer guides. You will have to reapply every so often. This is a technique I learned from some furniture repair guys and worked great on an 80 year old dresser we have. It does not have to be very thick either.

Denise (not verified)

Mon, 01/18/2010 - 07:57

I'm off to buy supplies for this. I'll let you know how it goes. I have so many plans I want to build!

Thanks for such a great blog.

Fran (not verified)

Mon, 04/05/2010 - 04:57

Another trick to make drawers glide easily is to rub candle wax on the bottom edges of the sides of the drawer.

Ana White (not verified)

Thu, 05/06/2010 - 12:15

I highly recommend not attaching the drawer face (or cutting) until you fit it to the drawer box opening to get the best fit. I would measure and cut to fit at this stage.

Havertown Dais… (not verified)

Sat, 05/15/2010 - 11:39

This may be a dumb question, but how do we join everything together? Nails? Screws? Combo of those one of those with glue? Just wanted to double check before we build two for our bedroom.

Joe (not verified)

Sat, 05/29/2010 - 17:40

I used a brad nailer, with 1 1/4" brads, and lots of glue of course.

I had a lot of measurements that seemed to be off. I'm wondering if that's because my lumber was differently dimensioned? For instance, is a 1x10 supposed to be 3/4" x 9 1/2" or 3/4" x 9 1/4"? Anyway, I was able roll with it and they still turned our really great. I made two for about $45 in lumber, but I did have some plywood scraps that I was able to use. Thanks!

Ryan (not verified)

Sun, 05/30/2010 - 06:56

The first picture of the stand is the exact finish I am looking for. What kind of wood/stain was used?

Melissa L (not verified)

Sun, 09/12/2010 - 08:09

I don't see in the plans or cut list the multiple horizontal pieces of the sides of the box. It looks like 5 1x2's on each side??? How are these done?

Brenda (not verified)

Wed, 10/20/2010 - 17:38

It would be helpful on projects like this where exact measurements are needed to make everything fit together if we were given *actual* measurements. For example, the drawer is made all of 1x6s with the back piece cut at 9.5" and the front piece at 11", which means the 1" wide boards are assumed to be 3/4". Using the same 3/4" assumption, that moves the front piece of the legs in 1/4" on each side of the drawer, leaving only a 10 1/2" opening for the 11" drawer. Maybe I'm missing the assumption that a 1x3" board is only 2 3/4" wide, but you see what I mean. As Joe pointed out above, not all lumber is the same. You can buy a 2x4 from two different stores and have two different measurements. There's a sawmill near me where you can get 2x4s that are actually 2x4! I'd rather see these schematics with the true measurements given instead of unsaid assumptions that don't necessarily translate into real world lumber. If your 1x3 is 3/4 x 2 3/4, please use those measurements. The plans on this site are all fairly simple for beginners and many of them may not be aware of the weird ways of lumber sizing and using true measurements would help them as well as keeping the rest of us from having to recalculate the entire project if we have to get lumber that isn't the same as what the person who drew up the plan used. Thank you!

Matt (not verified)

Sun, 10/24/2010 - 15:06

I tried building the nightstand this weekend and ended up with two problems, one with the design and one most likely with how I measured (or with dimensional number not being right). I understand why the top is two pieces (1x12 is the biggest dimensional lumber you can get), but I could not get them on the same plane. I should have sanded the tops of the legs square to each other before I attempted to put the top on. The second problem I had was that the drawer gap ended up being 11.5" wide. I checked all my measurements, too! I will try that in CAD to see if it really is 11.5" wide or I have something else screwed up.

Ana was right, this is really NOT the project for a first-timer. On the other hand, I learned quite a bit from it. Had the drawers been right, the Kreg Jig made short work out of them. The right angle clamp is a must for that!

Any tips on the best pieces for a beginner? I want to try the modular office desk (since it's mostly just boxes) and the new headboard Ana just posted.

John Larkin (not verified)

Sun, 10/31/2010 - 02:57

My wife and I have been hunting for nightstands to match our new bed for weeks, and can't find anything that fits the style of the room. This, however, was perfect! I built two, and here's my second attempt:

I found it pretty tricky to add the shelves at EXACTLY the right spots on each leg, so the first one took a LOT of attempts to get everything plumb and level. (Which burned through a lot of wood putty during the finishing stage!) The second time around I added cleats to the legs underneath each of the shelves. They're easier to secure, and they're easier to level. You can also secure the shelves to the cleats instead of nailing or screwing through the leg itself, which means one less nail hole to putty later on. Here's a pic:


Pamela (not verified)

Wed, 11/10/2010 - 20:04

I agree with Brenda! We've had to re-cut quite a few pieces because we realized too late that out lumber was a bit different than that used when drawing the plans.

Michelle (not verified)

Thu, 12/23/2010 - 11:47

We desperately need nightstands and just found your website. Noticed your comment about not doing this as your first project due to the drawer part of it, but we plan on making this nightstand and using a store bought basket in place of the drawer. This might help someone else who is afraid to attempt the drawer. :)

Allison (not verified)

Thu, 01/06/2011 - 17:44

Hi! I am finally trying to build 2 of these nightstands. I have everything cut to size & am ready to start, but was wondering if I need to use screws or nails. Please advise. I am fairly new with building, but wanted to try this.
Thanks so much! Love your blog!!!

Denise (not verified)

Thu, 01/13/2011 - 08:12

Thanks so much Ana for the plans! My first piece of furniture I have ever made was this bed side table. I could not believe how easy it was! I'm printing more plans to make more things soon. Thanks so much! Denise

Ken (not verified)

Wed, 04/06/2011 - 13:57

I just love this plan and many others,as you all have noticed the thickness of material used is not exactly like the drawing so I have been cutting the pieces as I go along meaning I first made the actual frame,added the shelves and at this point I cut the pieces according to the actual measurements not the drawing.

everything fits perfectly this way rather than cutting all the pieces at once then start the build.

Thank you.

BTW,this place is great. 


Mon, 01/26/2015 - 09:57

My 9 year old daughter and I built this nightstand over the past 2 weekends (from a small stack of old 1x12's we've had in our workshop for a decade). It was out first project but she was very patient and we measured well. I did have to shave a bit here and there to get the drawer to fit but all in all we're both pleased with the results. She really did a lot of the work and enjoyed using the power tools (with eye, ear protection, hair tied back, respirator when generating saw dust, etc.). She's painting it now to match the other furniture in her room and is looking forwarding to finding just the right drawer pull. :-) Thanks again for posting these (and all of your) plans! Great father/daughter bonding time!