Introduction: Secret Drawer End Table
In this Instructables, I will show you how I built a minimalist, modern looking end table with a secret drawer to store any valuables.
What drove me to make this table was my passion for watches. Over the years, I've been collecting watches and while none of my watches in my collection are that expensive, they are still quite valuable to me.
I had attempted in building an end table last year for the same reason and had miserably failed, but when I came across Brad's video on Youtube, it made me want to give it another try. (Links to Brad's Youtube channel and Instructables are mentioned below)
My table design closely resembles Brad's design, but I have added my own touch to incorporate a secret compartment to store my watches.
The tools I used for this project are:
-Dowel center finders
Materials I used for this project are:
-3/4" thick pine boards
Hope you guys enjoy my Instructables and be sure to check out Brad's channel!
Step 1: Designing the Table and Cutting the Boards
First step was doing a rough sketch of the table.
I constructed the base with 4 identical shaped legs with 2 bars connecting the front and the rear legs together on both sides, and another bar connecting the two sets of legs together.
I purposely left the front side open (See picture 2) as the false front of my secret drawer was going to be my front crossbar for the base.
I constructed the entire table with pine boards, but feel free to use other types of wood. Hardwood is not easily obtainable where I live, so I had to gamble by constructing the table with softwood, but luckily it turned out quite sturdy.
Picture 3 shows 2 of the 4 legs that need to be cut and the 4th picture shows the 4 walls that make up the main drawer walls.
Step 2: Shaping/trueing the Legs
The lack of a proper jig caused my table legs to be not quite identical to each other, so I thought of a quick solution to make them all equal using some clamps and a belt sander.
After making the rough cuts for all 4 legs, I clamped all four legs together and sanded one side flat on a belt sander. (See picture 2)
To sand the other side flat, I removed 2 of the clamps, and re-clamped them on the opposite side of the legs, and then re-clamped the remaining clamps the same way to ensure that the 4 legs never get detached from each other during the process.
After sanding down both sides, I just eyeballed to make sure all 4 legs were flush. (See pictures 4 and 5)
Step 3: Preparing for Dowel Joints
I decided to construct the entire table using only dowel joints and wood glue.
The reason behind this was because I personally had bad experiences using pocket hole jigs with softwood and I didn't want any nails and/or screws visible around the exterior of the table.
For all the joints, I drilled two 5/16" holes about 1/2" deep and then used dowel center finders (See pictures 3 and 4) to locate and drill the matching holes. (See pictures 3 and 4)
I used the second picture as a reference to identify which sides need to be drilled for the dowel joints.
Step 4: Creating the Dowels and Gluing the Legs
Instead of buying pre-cut dowels that were unreasonably pricey, I purchased a 5/16" dowel and cut them up manually. I used a regular pencil sharpener to taper the ends so that they are easier to insert into the 5/16" holes I created earlier. (See pictures 1 and 2)
After all the parts were drilled, I applied some wood glue on all the joints and the holes and clamped them up on a flat surface with tape and some rope to make sure the legs were leveled correctly.
I used pieces of 2x4s to distribute the clamping force evenly, and I used another piece of wood to use as a wedge to pull the rope tighter (See picture 5).
Also, notice that I have temporarily placed (but not glued) the false front of the secret drawer so that the legs could be clamped at right angles. (See pictures 4 and 5)
After all the glue was dried, I removed the rope and the tapes. (See picture 6)
Step 5: Attaching the Drawer Slides and Gluing the Main Drawer
I screwed in the drawer slides on to the leg structure for the secret drawer. (See pictures 1 and 2)
Then, the slides for the main drawer were attached prior to gluing the walls together in case it became difficult to screw in the slides after the walls have been assembled due to constricted space. (See pictures 3 and 4)
I then let the glue completely dry for 24 hours.
Step 6: Constructing the Drawers
I constructed 2 drawers (1 main and 1 secret) so that their widths matched the inside dimensions between the drawer slides.
I first cut all the panels to the appropriate length and height, then I made 1/8" thick slits roughly 1/4" deep with a table saw to slide in the drawer bottom. (See pictures 1 to 3)
I assembled the drawers with a drill and plain wood screws.
For the front of the main drawer, I created a groove for the handle with a router.
I drew out what I wanted to be cut out (See picture 4), then I clamped a ruler to act as a jig so that I can create even, straight cut on my router. (See picture 5)
With a straight bit on my router, I made small, progressive cuts (roughly 1/4" deep) until I eventually created the contour I desired. (See picture 6)
I then clamped the drawer front on to a workbench, then I finished off the cut with a flush trim bit. (See pictures 7 and 8)
Step 7: Attaching the Drawers and Test Fitting
I inserted the drawers and tweaked the drawer slide heights to perfectly center the drawers.
For the secret drawer (See it in action in pictures 2 and 3!), the sides of the drawer front were rubbing against the sides of the front legs, so I sanded down the drawer front for the drawer to slide in and out freely without any friction.
Once all the tweaks were done, I placed the main drawer on top to see how everything will be put together.
Step 8: Joining the Top and the Bottom
I wanted the main drawer and the legs to be detachable so that they can be carried more easily in case I wanted to relocate the furniture.
A simple way to achieve this was to use dowels to hold the two pieces together.
I first drilled a set of holes around the perimeter of the leg structure, and cut a bunch of dowels that protruded slightly less than the thickness of the main drawer wall. (See picture 2) (Side note: It turned out I didn't need so many holes, so I made extra pilots holes than I ended up using.)
I then used dowel center finders to find where on the main drawer I needed to drill holes for the dowels to go into.
Since I only had 2 dowel center finders, I repeated the process a multiple times.
With each iteration, I drilled 2 additional holes and inserted 2 dowels in the previously drilled holes until I was able to create all the holes required. (See pictures 4 to 8)
Step 9: Sand and Stain...
After I checked that everything fit nicely and all the drawers functioned perfectly, I sanded down all the visible surfaces with a fine grit sandpaper (200~400 grit).
I then stained a scrap piece of wood with 2 different colors to decide which one I liked more. (See picture 1)
I masked the surfaces I didn't want stained with a masking tape and applied the stain with a cotton cloth. (See pictures 3 to 7)
After the stain was left to try for 24 hours, the colour I chose didn't quite turn out the way I wanted it to, so it was time for another staining job...
Step 10: ...and Stain Again!
I was lucky that my first stain was lighter in color between the 2 that I tested.
Since the other stain was much darker than the previous, the wood had no problem absorbing the darker stain.
After I was happy with the stain job, I was ready to have the table relocated to my room and hide all the watches!
This was my first successful attempt at building a furniture, and I am quite happy how it turned out. The table has a minimalist look to it, and the drawers function very well and I can see myself using the table on a daily basis.
I hope you guys enjoyed this Instructables! :)