Nightstand With Wood-Burning Created With 99% 2x4 Lumber




Introduction: Nightstand With Wood-Burning Created With 99% 2x4 Lumber

This was built for a variety of reasons. First, I had 4 left over 2x4's from a previous project. Secondly, with Christmas around the corner and my wife asking me for the past year for a nightstand that matches our Queen Bed frame I had to make her one. And lastly, I saw the 2x4 Competition and thought perhaps I can use the 2x4's to make something nice. So, here it is. A night stand built with 99% 2x4's.

Please feel free to ask questions. There are several things I would have done differently which could have made it a little better.

The nicest thing about this project, is that you don't need a hundred fancy tools. Basically, this can be done with a table saw, some clamps and 2x4's.

Step 1: Tools and Supplies

This is going to be quiet a large list. Lets go with Tools first. Without some of these tools, the project will be near impossible.

Tools I used

  • Table Saw (pretty much required)
  • Measuring Tape
  • Clamps
  • Sander (belt and finishing)
  • Scroll saw (optional) or detail saw
  • Hammer
  • Power Screwdriver
  • Drill Bits
  • Jig for cutting tapers (video of how-to later)


  • 2x4 96 inch length, at least 6
  • 1/4 ply wood (bottom of shelves-only other wood needed) Can use other scrap
  • Wood Glue
  • Screws
  • Finishing Nails
  • Sand Paper (60 - 220)
  • Clear Gloss Polyurethane
  • Wood Stain
  • Handles for Drawers

Please note: We will be using the table saw a lot during this project. Please be careful and use all precautions you feel necessary.

Step 2: Picking Out Your Wood

Since we are mainly using 2x4's, that is pretty much some of the cheapest wood you can get. They are less than $3 a board, and this entire thing can be made with about 6 boards (96 inch length).

When picking out your boards, make sure they are straight and have no bad spots, cracks, splits. Knots are good because they add nice detail, but a knot that compromises the integrity of the board is bad.

About 1 of 6 boards will be worth getting, so spend some time digging for straight ones. Look down the length of all sides!

I had to use 4 leftover boards so I had some bad ones which ended up splitting in odd spots. You will be cutting these a lot, so just be ready for mistakes to happen and know any bad spots will show more when you cut them up.

Step 3: The Blue Prints

I went through several stages of blueprints here. Mainly because I created this from scratch. Some of the measurements are not written, but I did try and include most of them. These can be adjusted or changed based on your needs. I would recommend creating your own, not only because it will insure sure it works, but also it will help our understand how to build it better. Understanding a project goes a long way for success.

Each square equals 1 inch.

Step 4: Cutting the 2x4's to Usable Lumber

Perhaps one of the biggest difference (besides quality), between 2x4's and dimensional lumber is that dimensional lumber at a lumber store is "square", while 2x4's has rounded edges. You may not notice it, but if you start working with it, it will ruin your projects if you are trying to line up the edges. So, we need to cut ALL of our rounded edges. This takes some time and consistency. Please note, all lumber, dimensional included, is not the actually height/width as its name, that is the pre-cut measurement. A 2x4 is actually 1.5x3.75.

Please note, any time I refer to 2x4 here on out, assume it is these cut boards. We will not be using any of the non-trimmed 2x4. It's just easier to refer to it as a 2x4.

Step 5: Creating Table Legs - Part 1

First, cutting length and gluing together.

I know I want my Night Table to be 30 inches. You may choose to have your higher table or lower. It will be a bit higher than 30 inches since the top adds some, but I didn't mind it being 30.5 inches with the top, I wanted simpler cuts early on. Cut the legs to the length you desire. This means, cut your 2x4 (which is now actual measurement of 1.5 x 3.25 actual measurement).

You need to cut 6, 30 inch lengths.

Take two of the lengths and cut them down the middle. This will give you:

  • 4 pieces that are 1.5 x whatever (the 1.5 is the vital end)
  • 4 pieces that are 1.5x3.25

Now, take you 4 lengths you have no altered, and trim them down so they are now 3 inches even, instead of the 3.25 we had started with. This is because the 1.5 you just cut will be added to the thickness of the 1.5 you just cut, which adds to 3 inches, and we want the sides even.

What is not shown very well in the pictures is that you are actually creating an "L" shaped table leg to start (except sides are even). This means the first part of the "L" is just a straight 1.5x3 ( "l" in you "L" shape), and your narrow pieces you cut are the 1.5 "_" in the "L"

Glue the 1.5x30 in length onto the 1.5x3 board (seen in images) make the "L" shape. Make sure that the side you are gluing on is the "1.5" inch side, not the "whatever" side.

Use clamps when gluing to make the best fit possible. If you did not choose straight lumber, this is where you will have issues.

Let is dry for a few hours to over night before you move to the next step.

Step 6: Creating Table Legs - Part 2 - Cutting the Taper

If you have not done so yet, you need to create a Jig now for cutting the angles. If you already have one great. I would suggest you put more time/effort in yours than I did mine. I created it for an earlier project, but it was not very sturdy or well built. If you need help, this is the video I used to understand how to use it and create it.

I did no practice cuts because I had used it before. However, the first time I used it I did practice cuts before messing with my project pieces. Do all your cuts on the one side before adjusting anything, because if you move it, you will never get it exactly the same (talking about the table saw guide).


  • Our drawers will be going down 8 inches into the wood-work. This means that the tapered cut will not start until 8 inches from the top.
  • Follow directions in using a Jig. It is not easy, but once you have it set up, it's just a matter of using the guide to move the jig straight, the Jig does the tapered cut.
    • You might not want to cut all the way past the Jig as it does ruin the jig to cut through the stopper.
  • The taper you should mark with a pencil line on the first one to make sure you put the jig at the correct angle. I cut from the top to the table end of the tabled leg. Looking back I would have done it in reverse order.
  • After the first cut is made, you shouldn't need to measure/draw line again as all you legs are the exact same. Be sure not to adjust the jig from here until the end.
    • You will need to cut both tapered sides. I found it easiest just to switch the push bar/stopper in the Jig and move the entire jig/guard rail to other side.
  • This is perhaps one of the hardest parts. Again, practice on scrap wood first if you are not comfortable.

Step 7: Creating Your Middle Pieces

These are the pieces that go between the legs, or, the main base of the night stand.

Here is where it helps to understand the function of the night stand. The nightstand having two drawers, has a 1/2 inch thick support between the drawers to hold them and guide them. The drawers, being made from our "2x4's (1.5x3) are thus that thick. So our sides need to mirror this. That means this needs to be the order from top down:

  1. 1/2 inch gap
  2. 3.25 inch gap
  3. 1/2 inch gap
  4. 3.25 inch gap
  5. 1/2 inch gap

That makes 1 side.

You came make these as long as you want, and change the front and back sizes. However, I wanted my end product to be 15in x 15in, This mean, with 3 inches already added in for the legs, my length I need to cut is, 15-(3+3)=9 inches.

Although this does have 4 sides, you only need to cut the wood for 3 sides as the drawer side is different. That means you need to multiply our above stack by 3.

  • 6 of 3 in by 9 inches
  • 9 of .5 inch by 9 inches

When you start cutting the 9 inch lengths. Cut about 10 of them. Couple of extra, plus you will be cutting the .5 inch pieces from these also.

  • **important. Once you set the guide on your tablesaw, cut all the pieces now without adjusting. That way if you are off, it will not effect the alignment.
  • I cut several extra here of each, jut to be safe - good thing too as Bandit stole one when I wasn't looking.

Step 8: Sand and Stain

With a Belt sander and finishing sander, I found this only took a matter of minutes. Sand down the visible sides of these short pieces. You can do the legs now too if you want, but I did them later as they will still get some beating in later steps.

You will also see pictures here of how the set-up looks so you can start to get an idea of how they go together.

For the stain:

  • Light stain for the 3 inch sides and legs (used Golden Oak)
  • Darker Stain for the .5 inch pieces (Red mahogany)
  • Only need to stain visible sides
    • Last .5 inch piece visible side in also the bottom. I did not remember this and had to do it much later
  • Let it dry

Step 9: Gluing 2 of Your Side Piece Together

Here we are going to glue together only 2 of the nightstand sides. The "back" of the nightstand needs some cuts in it before you glue them together.

Pretty simple, glue and clamp. I didn't have clamps big enough so I used a weight.

Very important, make sure after you glue and place the weights that all side match up perfectly! Should have no gaps. Use a piece of wood to line them up if need be (sandwich them together to make sure they are not miss-aligned).

Step 10: The "Back"

This is where a Scroll Saw might come in handy for the detailed cuts. It is not required though, you can do it by hand or another method if you want.

Basically, what this is, is where the support that the drawers will rest/slide on, goes into the back part of the Nightstand. The support is going to be an inch wide, and of course, 1/2 inch thick (as that is the allotment between shelves in this design - the Red Mahogany stained pieces represents those spaces).

  • Find the middle, and measure half an inch to either side. Cut that out 1/2 thick back.
    • You are only doing this to 2 of the 3 pieces
  • You can glue those together now also as previous step
    • These newly cut pieces need to go on the bottom and middle. The top is a normal one

Step 11: The Supports for the Drawer

You will need the scroll saw or fine detail hand saw.

Cut three support shelves for the "Front" of the drawers.

  • These are 1.5 x .5 and 12 inches in length. You need 3 (See picture one)
    • These go in the front
  • Now, cut two more that are equal to the length that runs from the front, back into the newly cut pieces for the "back". This should be roughly 14 inches in length.
    • These remember are only 1x .5 inch. If you make it 1.5, it's fine, you just need to adjust the "back" and next cuts accordingly.
    • These go in the middle of the night stand running from the front to the back. The drawers sit and slide on these.

Take two of the "Front" pieces (12 inch lengths) and the two "middle supports" you just cut. Now you will take two pieces that are both .5 in thick, and place them on top of each other in a "T" shape. We need to cut these so they can fit into the .5 inch opening.

  • The front piece, find the exact middle
  • Measure .5 inch to either side of that.
  • Cut .25 inch into wood
  • In the picture above, side "A" matches support "A". You can see how they fit
  • Take support, place it in newly cut Front side A, and draw what needs to be removed
    • it should be roughly 1/4 inch
  • When they are both cut away, they should meet up nicely.
    • refer to pictures to help this make sense

Repeat for side B.

Step 12: Cutting the Front Legs to Fit Drawers

Review shop drawing first.

The three supports are be resting on small notched out sections that you will be cutting out here. If you think about it this way, it will help to understand the interior size. Since the wall thickness is equal to that of our original 2x4, it means it is 1.5 inches thick. That means that the drawer cannot have an entrance in the front smaller than that of the legs being trimmed back to 1.5 inches. It order for the drawer not to be a tight fit, I am giving it .25 inch of wiggle room on the entrance of each side. It also gives something for the front supports to rest on.

  • Step 1, using your table saw cut 1.25 inch width 8 inches down. See picture two above. Warning - table saw round, so you must stop before the 8in mark or you will cut into the wood you want to keep!
    • Cut the remained off with hand saw or jig saw
  1. You should now have Picture 2 from above.
  2. No you need to trim out notches. All notches you cut are only a .25 inch deep. It be removing that little 1/4 strip you have so it is flushed with the inside of the night stand.
  3. Bottom notch
    • Starting at the 8-inch down part, use a hand saw to cut a 1/2 high section out (you can use your front supports to draw a line if you want.
    • After cutting, I used a .5 inch chisel to make it flush.
  4. Next, do the top. It's also really easy as you are just cutting out .5 inch from the top
    • Remember, all these are only a .25 inches into the leg
  5. Now do the middle. I got my measurement from placing the bottom Front support in its new notch, placing one of my extra 1.5 x 3 inch boards, and drawing a line. I gave an extra 1/8th of an in room so the drawer would not be too tight.
  6. Cut out the middle notch

Step 13: Sand and Stain Legs

Not you can sand and stain legs. Does not take long. 120 grit with belt sander, and 220 with finishing sander.

Stained them with Golden Oak Stain. Let dry completely!

Step 14: Building the Shelves

Before real woodworkers get angry with me, I want to make a statement. I know in methodology how to make drawers. This, being a nightstand drawer, is small and will not ever hold much weight, so these were done very simply. They will work for the purpose.

I had to actually take these apart and rebuild them as I made it a 1/4 inch too long. Frustrating.

Here you will need some .25 inch plywood.

To cut the 3 inch pieces, you need to stand the 2x4 on it's 1.5 inch side. You will be cutting through the hard way. Because I have a crappy table-saw, my blade only reaches 1.6 inches up, so I had to cut halfway and then flip it around to finish the cut (sorry no pictures here).

  • Cutting the drawer pieces
    • Take your 2x4, cut 3 pieces that a 12.25 inches in length
      • Cut these so they are .5 inch width (flip them up on end to cut)
        • You should have, after this step, at least 8 pieces that are .5 x 3 x 12.25 inch
      • Cut all these so they are 2.5 inches instead of 3 inches
      • take 4 of these pieces. You are going to cut them to a length of 11.5 inches instead of 12.25
    • Now you should have
      • 4 pieces that are .5 x 2.5 x 12.25 inches
      • 4 pieces that are .5 x 2.5 x 11.5 inches
    • Pair them up so you get 2 of each for each drawer
  • Put these together as in image above
    • Make sure that the measurements are as follows (square)
      • 11.5 x 13.25 (it becomes 13.25 because these go just inside the 11.5 inch pieces)
    • Trace line on plywood so you know where to cut
      • Cut those out


  • Take the four pieces for each one.
  • Use finishing nails and wood glue. Nail them together .
  • Put plywood piece on top. Glue and nail down.
  • These are now finished.

Please note, you may want to put small stopper later at the bottom to prevent drawer from pulling out, and helps slide in alignment. Just two small squares about .25 inches nailed and screwed into the very back of the drawer, just wide enough to allow the middle support to fit between them.

Step 15: Put Together Table

Now we are going to put together what we have so far.

Use 1.5 inch self tapping screws, I used 3-4 screws on each side. 1-2 in each 1.5 x 3 inch block. Do not screw into the small .5 inch pieces

You can pre-drill if you want

I started with the back, then did the two sides.

When you get all the sides together, you should stand it up. Remember, the front will be open right now. On the back side I cut a small .25 inch piece of wood and placed it under the notch that was cut out for the inside support. This will help hold it up. Glue and nail that in.

Insert the middle supports and front supports. Glue and Nail these in as needed. You don't want them to come out. Drawers hopefully will slide in now.

The drawers may look weird, but eventually we will be putting a new face on each drawer.

Now we can work on the top.

Step 16: The Top - Part 1

Take your 2x4. Cut the length you want (mine was 18 inches). Cut the 1.5 inch thickness in half, so you get pieces that are 3.25 x .75 x 18.

I want mine 18 inches x 18 inches, which means I wanted the 3.25 inch pieces cut to 3 inches. Cut off .25 inches off each side.

Now, ideally you can tong and groove them yourself. I have done it before using a table saw, it is a lot of work and didn't do it here. I did it the "cheap" way to just woodglued them together. I did them one at a time and let them dry before adding more. I also used a weight to prevent them from warping. Worked ok.

I took a small piece or wood and screwed it into the bottom for support. These will be hidden. Be careful not to put them near the edge where the Nightstand insides will hit it and not allow the top to go on properly.

Step 17: The Top - Part 2

Next, fill in any gaps with filler. Best way to make that is mix woodglue and sawdust. Then push it into the cracks with toothpicks and fingers. Let it dry completely before sanding.

Sand it down. Need to start with a rough grit like 60 so that you can make all the uneven pieces line up.

Round sides if desired.

the Top is techinically done now. You can stain and finish it now if you want. I will be woodburning it so it is my last step.

To attach it, place it good-side down (on cardboard or towel). Place nightstand upside-down on the top. Screw in screws at angle from inside the nightstand to the top.

Step 18: Making the Drawer Faces - Part 1

I wanted a fancy design. This did take some time, but thought it was well worth it. Refer to the drawing to see the design. I ended up inverting the light/dark you see there (to the outermost was dark to contrast the background).

You want to make sure that the drawer face covers all the bad stuff when closed, but do not hit each other. That means they need to be about 4 inches each, by around 14 inches long. I ended up needing to made the most outside pieces a lot smaller than in the drawing, you might want to also!

You only want them to be about .25 inches wide, as it is just a face.

Using 2x4 extras, cut lots of little pieces. Once your table-saw guide is set to a certain width, leave it there for all cuts in that width.

You will need to figure out some of your own cuts here. It's not too hard after you follow the drawing. Just know you are making two drawers.

Step 19: Drawer Face - Part 2

Now you want to glue, hammer in finishing nails, and clamp each piece, one at a time. Let them dry before moving on. this will take a day or so, because you need to glue, hammer, clamp, leave, and come back several times.

Make sure you pre-drill for the finishing nails!

You will want to sand next. Sand with 60, 120, 220, and make sure everything is flat on both sides. Only the finished side however, do you need to sand to 220.

Next you want to stain. Do the dark stain first. Any areas that are going to have lighter stain on it, put Painters tape over.

Put you dark stain on, let it dry.

Remove painters tape. Using sandpaper, remove any stain that might have gotten on the "light" areas.

Stain the lighter areas. There is no need to cover the dark stain as the lighter color will not show enough to make it a bit deal.

*Make sure to stain a little on the back as you will have a little overlap since they are bigger than the drawer.

Now you can screw this onto the Drawers.

  • Be very careful with this. Take your time and make sure they go one evenly. I measured, put 1 screw in, tried it, adjusted if I needed to. The top one was harder because it either hit the top, or hit the bottom drawer. Took about 3 tries.

Step 20: Polyurethane

Polyurethane the entire thing now. I did two coats. If you already finished your top, you may do that now also. Do 3+ coats on the top as it will get more abuse.

Now, after it dries, you are done, unless you move on to do the woodburning like I did.

Step 21: Wood Burning

I like to choose a design that has some gray shading in it. Print it off to the size you want.

Use Carbon Paper and tape that down over the top of the night stand.

Tape your print-out over top of that.

Using a colored pen, trace all lines.

Make sure you got all the lines.

Woodburn the lines. Take your time. It will take 4 hours or more.

Double check you got everything you needed wood burned.

Next, I take black artist ink. Mix it in a bottle cap with different amounts of water. This will create lighter and darker shades. Use your print-out as a guide to know where to make darker or lighter.

Step 22: Finish the Top

Now you can stain and Polyurethane the top.

You are DONE! Take pictures and enjoy!

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    5 Discussions


    4 years ago

    reminds me of the old old days in school when they still had the old old desks for some reason.. all the creativity you could find engraved in them! i remember one even had the rolling road for the cartridge's ball, you know the one that inkpen uses.. you would think a termite expressed himself! :DD


    4 years ago

    Very well documented! I like the detail and explanations. Especially the info about dimensional wood and the 2x4's. Many thanks. I am new to woodworking and really appreciate this kind of nuance.


    Reply 4 years ago

    You're very welcome! I hope you can use it sometime for you own projects. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. I think the directions might have been confusing at parts.


    4 years ago

    Very nice. You get a vote from me.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Thanks Nick!