Shaker Nightstand Build

Here’s the build log for the solid cherry Shaker Nightstands I finished recently.

First the finished table: top dimensions are 18″ square and the table stands just under 30″ tall to match the height of my bed. Materials used:

  • S4S cherry: 1×2, 1×4, 1×5
  • S4S poplar 1×4
  • 1/4″ oak ply

Jointing edges I Clamped up and planed the edges of the boards I used for the tops with the #5 plane. The jack plane did just fine since the boards I was jointing were only 18″ long.

Gluing up the tops Four clamps were plenty for this part of the job. The quick grip clamps were to fight some vertical slip during clamping. The second top ended up much flatter.

Tapering the Legs The biggest challenge of the whole build was tapering 1x2s down to size with a circular saw. The taper started about a foot from the top of the leg and continued down to the bottom to bring the legs down to 3/4″ square at the narrowest. I used a straightedge clamped to the pine 1×4 board as a fence for the cut. The fence is parallel to the taper offset by the same with as the distance from the right edge of the circular saw base to the left edge of the blade. There is a 1×1 screwed to the bottom of the pine jig to support the end of the cherry leg. To get the clearance away from the bench, I clamped the jig, a scrap piece of 1×2 cherry and the leg to the table with the bench clamps and dogs. I did take a bite out of the portable bench with my circular saw but not from these cuts.

Flattening the Cuts I Clamped the legs together and planed the tapers flat. Smooth uniformity and less sandpaper; win win.

Mortising I clamped four legs together to give the router base a stable surface and set the tool to rout out a mortise in the second board. After each cut I moved a new board in to that second position to repeat. The front legs each had four mortises and the back legs each had three.

Mortises The cuts ended up looking good, albeit a little long. Next time I’ll put a shoulder in the lower part of the tenon to hide any mortise that comes out long like these did. Make and learn.

Frame Glue-up I put extra long tenons on the drawer rails because the stock is so thin. I first glued the front and back separately then connected the two with the remaining two apron pieces to get what you see here.

Top View Of the Frames

Cutting the Chamfer I decided on a 45 deg. Chamfer on the underside of the table top. It came out looking sharp! I then eased over all the edges on both tables with a block plane. A sharp looking table doesn’t necessarily have to feel sharp, after all.

Filling Holes Some shellac and sawdust from the cherry makes decent wood filler. It’s pares off easily with a sharp chisel

Not Pictured I planed, sanded, and shellaced the tables to finish them. Nothing to see here, really. Just dust and fumes. Wear your p95 mask, folks. Next go around, I’ll take a smoothing plane to the parts before I glue them up. That should make the sanding process much shorter or *maybe* unnecessary. Here’s hoping

Detail of Frame Joinery and Drawer Due to improper planning, I did not leave room for a guide below the drawer; it would have shown below the side and rear aprons. I had to get crafty. I tacked two drawer guides to the inside of the left and right aprons and drilled a hole in the sides of each drawer to accept a 1/4″ dowel. The dowel and guides are positioned such that the drawer pulls out level, has minimal slop, and stops on the front legs before falling out of the frame. After it’s installed, I can pull the drawer out as far as it can go and reach in to remove the dowels if I want to remove the drawer. I also added a cork stop on the back apron to set the drawer flush with the front of the frame.

Finished Tables One of the tops is a little cupped and one of the bases is a bit skewed. Otherwise, I’m extremely pleased with how these came out. I’ll bring lessons that I learned here to the next build, as always!

Frank White IV

1 thought on “Shaker Nightstand Build”

  1. Hi Frank,
    I love this method of communication!
    Your night stands came out so well and your descriptions are so good I can almost follow all your steps.
    Keep woodworking – You’re good at it.

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