Build a Bedside Table

This bedside-table project gives you three design options all based on the same basic construction plan. Just decide on a budget and choose a design to fit it.

Basic Table

Materials and Tools:

¾-inch birch plywood (two 18-by-22½-inch pieces for sides, two 18-by-20-inch pieces for top and bottom and one 18-by-18½-inch pieces for the shelf)
¼-inch birch plywood (19½-by-23½-inch piece for back)
nail gun (available for rental at home-improvement centers)
¾-inch nails
wood glue


1. Mark the shelf position on the back piece 9 inches from the top edge.

2. Apply a bead of glue on one of the short sides of the shelf and attach a side piece. Using the nail gun, secure the board every 3 inches. Attach the other boards the same way, following with the second side piece, the top and the bottom.

3. Attach the back with nails hammered into place 3 inches apart.

Read on to decide which finishing touches you want to apply.

Less Expensive

Cost: $41

Materials and Tools:

4 furniture glides
flat interior latex paint, taupe and caramel-brown colors
sea sponge
cloth rag
water-based polyurethane


1. Construct the table according to the basic-table instructions.

2. Apply a light taupe base coat and allow it to dry.

3. Using a clean cloth, rub on the caramel-brown paint and blot to create a textured look. Use a sea sponge for additional texture. When the desired depth of color is achieved, let dry.

4. Apply a coat of polyurethane to protect the finish.

5. Attach four furniture glides to the bottom.

More Expensive

Cost: $63

Materials and Tools:

4 furniture glides
dark stain
electric sander or sandpaper
drawer handle
water-based polyurethane


1. Before assembling the table, stain each piece.

2. Apply three coats of polyurethane, with a light sanding between coats.

3. Once dry, attach all the pieces according to the basic-table instructions.

4. Attach the floor glides to the bottom.

5. Measure the bottom shelf space and buy a basket to fit inside.

6. Attach a drawer handle to the front of the basket.

Most Expensive

Cost: $113

Additional Materials and Tools:

wooden ball feet
cherry stain
electric sander or sandpaper
water-based polyurethane
fluorescent light
drawer handle
travel labels
woven thatch matting
spray adhesive
miter saw
¾-inch birch plywood (for box drawer)
craft knife


1. Before assembling the table, stain each piece including the wooden ball feet.

2. Apply three coats of polyurethane, with a light sanding between coats.

3. When dry, mount the fluorescent light to the underside of the top piece.

4. Attach all the pieces according to the basic-table instructions. Cut a hole in the bottom corner of the back panel to accommodate the light cord.

5. Measure and cut the birch plywood into pieces for a box drawer to fit the bottom shelf. Also cut two strips for the front panel. Stain and add a polyurethane finish. Allow it to dry, and assemble the box. Add a drawer pull and the strips of plywood to the front panel. Glue the travel labels to the front panel.

6. Cut the woven thatch matting to fit the top, and stain it to match the table. Attach it with spray adhesive and cut off the excess with a craft knife.

7. For a finished look along the matting, use a miter saw to cut strips of L-molding (or have the pieces cut at a home-improvement center). Apply the stain and polyurethane, and secure them with nails.

8. Protect the matting with a piece of Plexiglas cut to size.

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