how to build modern mid century nightstands with tapered angled legs, out of white mdf and natural oak wood

We are back with a new project: a set of two one-drawer nightstands.

The tabletops, the routed finger pull drawer fronts and the angled tapered legs were built out of oak wood, while the nightstands’ boxes were made out of 18 mm thick MDF.

We wanted to build them with round corners, just like the last project (white mid-century nightstands), and with an open shelf for decorations and books. We changed the design a lot during the entire process, and in the end, we got a set of two white nightstands without any other open shelves.

You can also watch the making video on our YouTube channel and don’t forget to subscribe:

How to make 1-drawer mid-century nightstands with tapered and angled legs

Making the boxes

We started by building the boxes. As we said the design of the boxes at the beginning was more complex than the final one.

We took the bases and glued some MDF strips near their edges so that we could round the inner and outer corners (the first design). We talked about our method to round inner corners and outer corners in previous tutorials. We won’t insist.

Then we realized that we really wanted to design and build something new. So we cut the strips.

We decided to make them with hexagonal corners (the second design). So, after redesigning them in FreeCAD, and after calculating the dimensions of the MDF boards, we cut the pieces to the needed sizes and angles. We matched the pieces by using screws and glue: the simplest and the safest way to join MDF boards.

After the glue dried we filled the holes with two-parts putty and sanded the excess. We beveled the edges with a 45 degrees chamfer router bit. We decided from the beginning to chamfer the inside edges. I think that was the only thing we didn’t change from the initial design.

that was the shape of the nightstands with hexagonal corners
The mid-century nightstands with hexagonal corners

But we realized that there was something we didn’t like at all. The nightstand boxes were too huge and nothing seemed to look good. That was the moment when we decided to cut them. Yes, we cut them next under the shelf that covered the drawer’s bottom (the third design).

to get the shape pf the nightstands, we cut the sides
Cutting the sides to get the final shape of our nightstands

Making the oak wood top

The next step was to build the oak wood top. We had some difficulties in choosing the right joint between the tops and the sides of the nightstands. After some discussions, we decided to choose the one you can see at the end of the project. So that, we agreed to bevel the edges of the top, too.

We chose 2 wide beautiful pieces of oak to have only one joint, and long enough to glue only one panel for both of them. Then:

  • we straightened one face of each piece
  • we planed the planks until we get the needed thickness
  • we squared the edges
  • we glued them together with polyurethane glue and waited until the glue dried
  • we sanded the panel on the two faces using the belt sander with 40 grit sandpaper, then with 80 grit and in the end with 120 grit

Then, we cut the panel into two pieces, one for each nightstand.

oak wood panel used to build two tabletops for our mid century nightstands
The beautiful oak wood panel

After we cut the tops and the boxes, but before routing the ends, the nightstands looked like this:

the shape of the 1 drawer nightstands and the oak wood tabletop
The final shape of the nightstands’ boxes and the oak wood tabletop

To make a beautiful joint between the tabletop and the sides of the box, we made some cutouts. We routed the inner bottom corners of the tops using two router bits:

to join the MDF sides and the oak tops, we first routed the edges with a bearing router bit
Routing the ends of the oak tops with a bearing router bit

For the other edges and for the inner edges of the MDF sides, we used a 45 degrees angle chamfer cutter router bit.

we routed the edges of the tops with a 45 degrees chamfered bearing router bit to join them with the sides
Routing the edges of the oak top to join it with the sides of the nightstands

In the end, the sides of the nightstands and the oak tops joined like in the picture below:

the way the sides of the nightstands and the table top look after routing the edges
The joint between the MDF side and the oak tabletop

For installing the back (made out of 4 mm thick plywood), we routed the back with a T-type bearing router bit.

Making the nightstands’ fronts

We made the drawer fronts out of only one piece of oak wood. When we cut them to their final size we took into account the space between the sides of the nightstands and the space between the bottom and the tabletop, keeping a margin of 1 – 2 mm to each side.

We decided to cut out the handle, near the bottom side of the front, so that the top and the front have a continuous appearance.

We used two different router bits to route the handles into the edge:

These are our routed finger pull drawer fronts.

the oak wood drawer fronts with routed handles
Routed handles in oak wood drawer fronts

All we had to do, was to sand them with 120 and 150 grit sandpaper.

Making the MDF drawers

For the drawers, we used 12 mm MDF. We believe that MDF is the best material that can be used for drawers because the painted surface is very smooth.

We usually build them by using glue and screws;

  • we match the pieces for a drawer
  • we drill holes
  • we countersink the holes (to hide the screws heads)
  • we apply the glue on the edges
  • we screw all the pieces together
  • we fill the holes with two parts putty
  • we sand the excess of putty
  • we paint everything, usually with white paint
making the drawers out of raw MDF
Making the MDF drawers for the nightstands

This is a simple way to get beautiful drawers.

Making the oak wood tapered legs

We decided to make some simple tapered and angled legs out of oak wood for our nightstands, to match our design. First, we made the plan to easily calculate the dimensions of the legs and the cutting angles.

Then, we took 4 planed planks, long enough to cut two legs out of each one.

We cut the boards, using the sliding miter saw into smaller pieces at the angle needed for our project.

To be able to get the designed shape of the legs, we first cut one face along a line drawn on it. Then we set the bandsaw table to the correct angle and we cut the other two faces.

We got these 8 nice oak legs:

the oak wood tapered legs needed
The tapered wood legs before finishing

We beveled the sharp edges with a 45-degree bearing router bit after sanding them with 80 grit sandpaper. Then we sanded all the sides with 120 grit sandpaper to get a smoother surface.

the tapered legs after we chamfered the sharp edges with a 45 degree bearing router bit
The tapered legs with the sharp edges chamfered

In the end, we sealed the MDF pieces and painted them with water-based satin white paint.

We applied 3 layers of paint, sanding them with 320 grit sandpaper before each layer to get a smoother and more beautiful surface. For the tops, the fronts and the tapered legs, we used water-based primer and varnish.

learn how to make nightstands with angled tapered legs
Modern one drawer nightstands with angled tapered legs
how to make white MDF nightstands with oak wood top, fronts with routed pulls and angled tapered legs
Combining white painted MDF with natural oak wood
mid century modern nightstands with routed pull fronts made out of oak wood
The nightstands with routed pull fronts
final project: a set of two modern mid-century nightstands made out of white painted MDF with tops, routed pull fronts, and angled tapered legs made out of oak wood
A set of two mid-century modern nightstands
how to build your own mid century nightstands with MDF and oak wood
The nightstands are beautiful

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