Intro: HomeMade Modern DIY Concrete Walnut Nightstand
This nightstand consists of an outer concrete shell formed with Legos and a wooden drawer that's faced with a piece of live edge walnut. I'm most proud of this project for its aesthetics. I don't use hardwoods often in my projects because it's expensive, but this piece of live edge walnut came from my parent’s backyard. This is my third, large Lego and concrete project and the Legos are holding up just fine. Most of the dried concrete flakes off the Lego bricks and small pieces can be scraped or brushed off with a toothbrush. Only use cold water and mild non-abrasive soaps to clean the bricks. If you have a mesh bag for laundering delicates, you can place the bricks in the bag and wash it in a washing machine with the water temperature set to cold. Do not use hot water or you'll warp the bricks.
Step 1: Supplies + Tools
I used the classic Lego bricks to make the mold. I raided my parent's attic to retrieve my childhood stash and purchased a few new sets. Purchasing all new bricks for this project might be a bit expensive, so I'm working on a post showing how the nightstand could be cast in sections to reduce the amount of Legos needed.
3/4" Melamine Board
Melamine board is particle board with a smooth laminate surface. It's a great product for making a concrete form work. I bought a 4' by 4' sheet and had four 2 1/2" strips cut at Home Depot.
I used walnut with a live edge that I got from my parent's backyard.
3/4" Pine Boards
Quikrete Countertop Mix
I prefer the Commercial Grade Quikrete Countertop Mix for these type of projects but Quikrete 5000 will work just fine as well.
Hot Glue Gun
I used a hot glue gun to glue the Legos to the board. Don’t worry – the glue will peel off later.
RYOBI 18 Volt Cordless Drill
RYOBI 18 Volt Circular Saw
RYOBI Orbital Sander
Step 2: Layout the Mold
Layout the design and build the mold 3 bricks high. Place temporary spacers to get the inside and the outside rings in the right position. The concrete frame is just a simple rectangular frame with ledges on the inside to support the drawers. I built the frame up 3 layers before building the mold out to create the drawer supports. I used flat tiles on top of the lego bumps to keep the concrete from sticking to the Legos.
Step 3: Glue Down the Legos
Use the hot glue gun to glue the Legos to the melamine board.
Step 4: Finish Building the Mold
Build the mold up brick-by-brick. When you get to the top, place some support braces to keep the walls from bending out under the weight of the concrete.
Step 5: Mix + Pour the Concrete
Mix the concrete and spoon it into the form. After you have put in about 5 inches of concrete, use a stick to push the concrete into the corners and vibrate the air bubbles out of the concrete. Repeat this process until the mold is full. You don’t need to trowel or smooth the top surface since the melamine side of the mold will be the front and will come out nice and smooth.
Step 6: Let the Concrete Cure
Let the concrete cure at least 20 hours before removing the mold.
Step 7: Remove the Mold
Removing the Legos can be a bit time-consuming. Remove the upper layers and then cut the glue with a knife. Flip the block over and start removing the bottom bricks. You can use long nose pliers to remove the bricks from the bottom, but be careful not to scratch or bend the plastic bricks.
Step 8: Strip the Bark
I used a hatchet to remove the outer layers of bark and then used a hammer and chisel to chip off the inner layers.
Step 9: Cut the Wood for the Drawer
The drawer for this project is a pine box with a hardwood face and a plywood bottom. I measured the concrete and cut the wood to make a box that fits inside the concrete frame. I wanted everything to fit nicely within the concrete with minimal gaps, so I measured twice and used clamps and guides to make nice straight cuts with my circular saw. I cut the walnut so that the live edge side hangs down and covers the concrete drawer supports, while also serving as a handle.
Step 10: Sand + Paint
I sanded the pine and plywood pieces by hand, painted the pine pieces and finished the plywood with a coat of Danish oil.
Step 11: Assemble the Box
I glued pieces of pine to the underside of the plywood and screwed the side pieces to the base.
Step 12: Sand the Walnut
The walnut I used was very rough, so I started sanding it with 80 grit paper with my orbital sander. Then I switched to 220 grit before finishing with 400 grit. I was careful with sanding the live edge since I wanted to maintain the natural contours.
Step 13: Finish the Walnut
I finished the walnut with a coat of Danish oil.
Step 14: Screw on the Walnut
I screwed through the inside of the pine drawer and into the walnut so that the screws wouldn’t show from the outside.
Step 15: Clean the Legos
Most of the dried concrete flakes off the Lego bricks. Some small pieces can be scraped or brushed off with a toothbrush. Only use cold water and mild, non-abrasive soaps to clean the bricks. If you have a mesh bag for laundering delicates, you can place the bricks in the bag and wash it in a washing machine with the water temperature set to cold. Do not use hot water or you will warp the bricks.