Set of Cherry Nightstands

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Project by ilyac posted 11-20-2016 11:23 PM 3057 views 15 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This was the first of many project in which I get rid of all the only junk funiture around the place. The first on the chopping block is set of Ikea nightstands.

The design is a 3 drawer, cherry nightstand, with a divided side panel, and arched bottom rails. I decided to do flush drawers as I like this cleaner look. I also divided the side panels rather than keeping them solid to just break them up a little visually and add more vertical elements to prevent them from looking ‘squat’. I chose hardwood drawer slides for 2 reasons, one is that I do really like the look of them, but almost more importantly, a scrap of maple is cheaper than metal slides. I used shallac to apply a seal coat and stained over the cherry, with a wipe on poly to protect.

For the detailed rundown, check out my blog posts

This project was a LOT of firsts for me, and I learned even more. Each thing I tried, in invariably wish I had done better, but here’s a short list of things I leaned along the way.

1. First mortise and tenon joinery
I wanted to try my hand at traditional motise and tenon joints for the frame of this. I cut the tenons on the table saw with a dado stack, and the motises with a plunge router. I should have kept the joints less snug and further away from the end of the legs, as I got some splitting through successive dry fits.

2. First time lamination to create tops and side panels
Overall this went well, however one of the issues I ran into was just grain matching and color matching. There are a few of the panels that I moved towards the back of the stands that were not as well matched as others, and after stain the color matching improved significatly.

3. First time making and hanging drawers
For the drawers I used a Whiteside drawer lock bit, however overall my alignement jig for the router table needed some serious work. In the end a few of the drawers ended up being pretty hard to get nicely square, but after some fussing around it all fit well. I had similar issues with routing the drawer slide channels, and hanging the maple drawer slides. Lesson learned from this is to spend more time on jigs up front to same lots of time later on.

4. First time working with shellac
Most of the issues I ran into came from the pure and simple fact that I needed to create and run through test pieces through the full finishing process. Also, pre-finishing would have saved me a world of effort. Pre-finishing is something I never even considered until it was FAR too late.

10 comments so far

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1531 days

#1 posted 11-20-2016 11:30 PM

WOW … first time was a charm! Great job. Keep it up. So, how do you like working with shellac?

View ilyac's profile


56 posts in 2962 days

#2 posted 11-20-2016 11:52 PM

WOW … first time was a charm! Great job. Keep it up. So, how do you like working with shellac?

- Ron Aylor

Thank you so much!

I really liked the resultant finish, but I need a lot more practice working with it. For the finish process it was mostly there just as a pre-finish, and I forgot that I needed to cut the shellac to make the stain impart more color than it did. Next time I would like to try to make my own shellac and experiment with it a little more. Overall I just need to do more research on various finishing techniques, as I am still getting my feet wet.

View Halc's profile


146 posts in 2486 days

#3 posted 11-21-2016 02:20 PM

Your night stands look great. Nice finish and pulls, too.

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3750 days

#4 posted 11-21-2016 02:38 PM

You have done a fine job on this pair of night stands. They are beautifully done.

helluvawreck aka Charles

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View david38's profile


3518 posts in 3227 days

#5 posted 11-21-2016 03:55 PM

nice work

View lavenrw's profile


25 posts in 3010 days

#6 posted 11-21-2016 08:23 PM

Beautiful classic and timeless design! Very well executed. I’m sure the Ikeas made decent kindling ;-)

-- Woodworking - it's much cheaper than a psychiatryst!

View oldrivers's profile


2316 posts in 2450 days

#7 posted 11-22-2016 01:59 AM

Beautiful work, I love theCherry

-- Soli Deo gloria!

View tim387's profile


67 posts in 2083 days

#8 posted 11-23-2016 10:32 PM

Excellent work. What ever the motivation is, go with it. Mine was when the ex took her bedroom set and then I progressed through the house swapping the old with a rebuild. Think about making your own handles at some point. Check out my small cherry dresser.

-- Tim S. Top notch stick kicker

View ilyac's profile


56 posts in 2962 days

#9 posted 11-24-2016 02:54 PM

Thank you all for the kind words!

View ColinM1's profile


1 post in 2285 days

#10 posted 12-28-2016 02:15 PM

I like the curve you worked into the bottom rail. Looks great!

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