How to make a nightstand box with curved edges
One of the most frequent questions we’ve received about the design of these mid-century MDF nightstands is: “How did you make the curved edges?”
That was also our first question when we decided to make them: “How to make that possible?”. We had to find a solution so that we could round the corners and at the same time keep enough material on the corners. We had to get a corner thickness equal to the thickness of the walls. And the only viable option for us was to add material to the corners.
The method (both the building and the rounding of the corners) is part of a video you can find on our YouTube channel:
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And now, let’s see how we made them:
1. We started by building simple nightstand boxes out of 18 mm thick MDF boards. We cut them to the needed size in our workshop. The boards can also be bought from specialized stores, already cut to the required sizes. Our recommendation is to check before starting to build that the boards you ordered have been cut correctly. It has happened to us many times to receive the boards 2-3 mm smaller or bigger than what we asked for. In this case, the shape of the boxes no longer comes out as expected.
2. We used wood adhesive (D3 class) to glue the four boards together. We applied a thick enough layer on the edges to make sure that the boards will stick very well. Due to its structure, the MDF edges tend to absorb the adhesive like a sponge. After applying, I spread the adhesive on the entire surface of the edges.
3. To tighten the boards, we used large F clamps. We made sure that the angle between the boards was 90 degrees. This can be verified both with a simple square and by measuring the two diagonals (they must be equal). Even a small difference from the 90-degrees angle will make properly glueing the added strip almost impossible.
4. In order to be able to round the corners, we had to increase their surface. We cut square (1.8 cm by 1.8 cm) MDF strips with a length equal to the depth of the nightstand boxes. We glued them with the same type of adhesive and positioned them in the corners. We secured each one with a clamp at one end.
5. We made sure that these strips stick very well on both sides along their entire length. In order to do that, we secured them at the other end, and then we used other strips to press them well in the middle, in both directions. We didn’t rush with that part at all. We tightened the strips, two by two, on close corners, to make sure that the joints would be glued correctly.
6. After the adhesive dried, we increased the strength of the corner joints with wooden dowels:
- we cut small pieces of dowels out of an 8 mm diameter round beech wood rod
- we drilled holes with an 8 mm drill bit, in the corners of the boxes, taking care that these holes pass through the two boards and through the added strip
- we applied the adhesive into the holes
- we inserted the dowels and hammered them in place
- in the end, we cut them with a hand saw
7. Before rounding the corners, we drew circles on each corner of the bedside tables, both on the inside and on the outside, with a bow compass. We used the inner corner of the added strip as the center for the circles.
8. In order to round the outer corners:
- we used an electric planer to weave them as much as possible. We were careful not to exceed the drawn circles
- we sanded the rounded edges with the belt sander
- we then used the sheet orbital sander to get a smoother surface
9. In order to round the inner corners:
- we used a chisel to cut the excess of MDF material
- we rounded roughly with a narrow belt sander
- then we sanded by hand with 120 grit sandpaper, using a round scrap piece as sandpaper holder.
In the end, we got what we wanted: two nightstands boxes, with all the corners rounded (both inside and outside), with a large radius: