We built this set of two mid century white floating nightstands to show in detail how we made them look so nice. The first design we tried was almost identical as this one.
The difference was that the drawer fronts are now inset, behind the routed edges of the boxes.
We also made a video to show more details about how we built them:
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We divided the process in three steps, one for each main elements:
Building the simple MDF boxes for the floating nightstands
The first step was to build the boxes out of MDF boards and then get them to the final shape.
1. We cut the MDF boards to the required dimensions and we built two simple boxes out of them. We used water based PVA adhesive.
We used F clamps to tighten the boards together. We took care to have 90 degrees angles at the corners. We checked the angle with a square and by measuring the diagonals, which have to be equal.
2. To get the rounded shape of the MDF boxes, we added extra support at the corners. We cut some 1,8 cm by 1,8 cm MDF strips with their length equal to the depth of the nightstands. We glued them by using one C clamp.
We made sure the strips were very well pressed against the walls along their entire length, so we used other scrap strips to tighten them better in the middle.
3. We increased the strength of the corners, by using wooden dowels:
- we cut an 8 mm diameter round bar into a lot of short pieces
- we drilled 8 mm holes. The holes had to pass through both walls and the reinforcing strip
- we applied water based adhesive in and around the holes
- we put in the wooden dowels, making sure to cover them as much as possible with glue
- in the end we cut the dowels with a hand saw
4. Before rounding the corners, we drew the shape on each corner, both for the inner corner and for the outer corner.
5. For rounding the outer corners:
- we used an electric hand plane to rough cut the corners. We took care not to exceed the shape drawn earlier
- we sanded using the belt sander until we got to the desired roundness of the corner
- we used the sheet sander to further smooth the surface
6. For rounding the inner corners:
- we used a chisel to cut as much as possible of the MDF strips
- we rounded the inner corners using a thin belt sander
- then we sanded each corner by hand using 120 grit sandpaper and a round piece of wood as support
7. When all the corners were rounded we started to route the edges of the nightstands:
- for the front edges we used a 45 degrees chamfer and bevel router bit (it was perfect to precisely follow the curved corners). We used some 18 mm mdf boards to add extra support for the router. This way it was easier to keep it perpendicular to the edges.
- for the back edges we used a slot cutter router bit (to secure the back of the nightstand)
8. We cut the plywood for the back of the nightstands to size and we rounded the corners using the belt sander clamped to the table.
9. We secured the back of the nightstands:
- we applied the water based adhesive in the routed chamfer
- we placed the plywood in it’s final position
- we drilled the holes for the wooden dowels
- we hammered the wooden dowels in place
- we cut the dowels with a hand saw
10. The next step was to sand the boxes very well:
- we hand sanded the routed edges. For the rounded corners we used the same piece of round wooden bar as support for the sandpaper
- we also hand sanded the sharp edges
- we sanded the back of the nightstands using the belt sander
After all these steps, the MDF boxes were ready for applying the water based primer and the water based paint.
The MDF drawers of the mid century floating nightstands
For the drawers we also used MDF boards. This time we used 12 mm thick boards. We cut four pieces for the bottoms of the drawers and some strips for the sides.
For building the drawers:
- we drilled holes with a 3 mm drill
- we countersunk them
- we applied water based adhesive on the edges
- we secured the sides with 4 cm by 4 mm screws
Preparing the drawer boxes for painting:
- we filled the holes with two parts wood putty
- after the putty dried, we sanded the excess using the belt sander
- we sanded all the edges flush, also using the belt sander
- we hand sanded the sharp edges of the drawer boxes
This was the quickest way to build the drawers. After painting the drawers, the surfaces become very smooth.
Oak wood drawer fronts for the two mid century nightstands
For the drawer fronts we used oak. We chose a beautiful oak plank, wide enough to make the fronts out of one piece:
- we cut the board into 4 shorter pieces
- we planed and squared all the faces
- we cut them to the required size
- we rounded two corners of each one to match the rounded edges of the nightstands
We used a finger pull router bit to route the edges of the drawer fronts.
To make sure all the pulls have the same length and depth, we built a simple router template out of some MDF scraps.
The final step was was to sand them:
- we sanded the faces and the edges using the belt sander and 150 grit sandpaper
- we hand sanded the rounded corners, the end grain edges and the sharp edges
- we used the mini belt sander to sand the routed pulls
- we hand sanded the routed chamfers and their edges
- for the hard to sand areas we used the multitool
- in the end we filled the knots with two parts putty and we sanded again the excess
All the components of these mid century floating nightstands being ready, we applied the water based primer, the water based varnish (for the drawer fronts) and white water based paint (for the MDF boxes and the drawer boxes). We sanded each piece with 320 grit sandpaper after each layer applied:
- the oak wood drawer fronts
- the MDF drawers
- the MDF boxes
The final result, after installing the soft close slides and the fronts: