Build a simple Nightstand

May 27, 2013 in Carpentry, Urban Farming

I know I promised many that I would begin sharing details of our urban farm endeavors, however, we had a three-day weekend (Happy Memorial Day), and thought I could take advantage of the extra time to be creative.  So, I would like to take a short detour and share my attempts at creating a small, simple nightstand.

A few weeks ago I recently started reading books before bed again (it has been far too long).  I have not had a nightstand near my bed for some time to purposefully avoid placing my alarm anywhere near me to easily hit the snooze button.  My alarm clock sits clear on the other side of the room to force me up with the roosters (not too successful). When I began reading nightly again, I needed a small light source for my night time reading, and somewhere to sit it on; hence the idea to build a small table to use as a nightstand. I thought this would be a perfect article to share on the BluGill Urban Farm website.  Other than a wine rack created around 2007 (pictured below) and a backyard garden fence (another article?), I have very little skill making anything.


So how did I fair creating this pile of wood:  into this:

Raw nightstand wood (Photo 0)

Completed Nightstand (Photo 13)

Come see.

Gather the wood

Nightstand rough sketchFirst, I visited a local hardware store and checked out their pile of less than perfect pieces of work.  I picked up several pieces of good quality useable oak boards for about $4.00 each.  I also checked out a large home hardware outlet and picked up additional pieces of poplar matching the height and width of my plan, so chose to use the poplar pieces instead of the oak.   The long thin pieces (1/2″x2″x2′) that make up the table top frame and the front cap cost $1.72 each. The larger pieces that make up left and right leg and table top (1″x12″x24″) cost $9.54 each.  And the half-size piece to became the bottom shelf cost $2.98.  The wood supply for a single night stand totaled under $37.00 (not including screws, glue and equipment).

Recommended Tools

I have read about and seen first hand the benefits and ease of the Kreg pocket hole jig drilling system and thought I would try it out.  I am aware of three separate hole sizes.  For material 1/2″ thick, the Mini pocket hole jig is necessary.  A jig is a term used to reference a template of sorts in wood working and other industries.  You can pick up the Kreg mini jig at for around $20.00.  Phoenix actually has a Rockler brick and mortar store, and the Mini jig sold for just under that price and the 2″ square driver bit (for the recommended screws) was around $6.00. Don’t forget your clamps (Kreg small clamp approximately $23) This small furniture design would be perfect to try my hand at using the Kreg Jig system.  And for an investment of under $50.00, I may just be able to start making strong, sturdy and simple furniture.

The Kreg Jig Setup

Measure your material thickness (top to bottom) and follow Kreg Photo 2 placement.  Examine Kreg Photo 1 to calculate the stop ring placement on the drill bit.  To check your figures, place the drill bit all the way through the jig to see the travel distance (Setup Photo 3) as a reality check.  If satisfied, clamp the jig tight onto wood member and drill (Kreg Photo 4).  Repeat as necessary.  See the images below for an idea of the Kreg Jig system.

The Build

See gallery below for images and explanation of the build process.  From start to finish, it took a novice (me) about seven (7) hours to purchase the equipment, cut the wood to size and pre-drill holes with the Kreg Pocket Hole jig, and assemble it primarily with wood screws and glue.  The following day the piece was ready to be stained and placed in action.  The material cost was well under $50.00, and the special jig used was a minimal investment at a price tag under $50.00.  It took no more than 2 hours to measure and cut the pieces on a circular saw and miter saw table, and another 5 hours to drill the pocket holes and assemble the pieces into the final product.  The following day, I spent less than an hour applying the first layer of stain.  I plan to sand down the surfaces with varying grades of sand paper to create a smoother shinier finish and re-stain it before I consider it completed.  I also plan to create a top drawer or shelf with the extra wood pieces.

All in all, this was a very rewarding simple exercise.  The Kreg Pocket Hole system proved to be the most efficient and easy manner to create this piece of furniture, especially for a novice such as myself.  I am sure a more experienced wood worker could create this in under 3 hours.

What do you think? Have any experiences to share? Have a correction to this article? Feel free to contact me with any constructive comments.

Gill Blu

Amateur gardener at BluGill Urban Farm
Amateur urban farmer learning and sharing his experiences in the Sonoran desert of the arid Southwestern North America.

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