One of the projects I get to cross off my step-daughter to-do lists is a bedside table. This was going to be a rush project, which was my fault.
I found several free on-line plans and opted for the one that seemed appropriate – easy to build, could use my reclaimed lumber, and would look great.
I had a few almost furniture grade-quality, large, plywood sheets that were used as ramps for transporting massive data servers for the IT industry. I would use those for most of the project, but would use some other standard pallet boards I had as well.
The plans called for using pocket holes throughout, which I had, but I would have to make a few adjustments here and there. First, on the width. My step-daughter measured the space available and I needed to cut the design back by 3 inches. No biggie. Other changes I’ll mention as I get to them.
I’m afraid of drawers. There, I said it. The fact that this piece of furniture had a drawer frightened me, but I went for it, anyway. Some things happened to make me HATE drawers, but I think I’ve come out of this knowing I can build them …and build them well, if I need to.
My FIRST attempt at the drawer started out beautifully. My first glue-up went wrong, however. I took it apart and rebuilt it on a flat surface (hello, new workbench!) and that did the trick! But as I contemplated re-gluing and re-nailing it I realized I needed to take it apart again to cut a groove for the drawer bottom*. Then it hit me! I’d used almost every other tool in my workshop on this project, why not use the router to cut the groove into the already assembled drawer. It was so much trouble getting to this point, I thought it was a good solution.
Bad solution. Do not, I repeat DO NOT use a router on plywood!
It was now about 2am on the day I was to drive 5 hours and give the table to my step-daughter. After contemplating fixes, I destroyed the once beautiful drawer to force me to start over. Which I did… and I did.
I set table saw to 4 inches again and ripped four new plywood pieces for the replacement drawer only to find they were warped. Take two. This time they were straight and clean and… for some reason I can’t explain NOT four inches. I had to either cut another set of four pieces or make an adjustment. I opted for adjusting the drawer to be a little lower, and still give a good depth.
I used the table saw to cut grooves for the drawer glides. Oh, the plans called for metal drawer glides, but that seemed such a cheat, I couldn’t do it. I had some oak pallet wood that I cut down and sanded into strips. I glued and screwed it with counter-sank holes. It worked perfectly.
The rest of the build was straight forward. Yes, I had a few areas I had to use wood filler or sand down, but you have to be flexible with pallet wood. It’s imperfect and you have to know that going in – and adjust accordingly.
I DID find another reason to hate Dewalt tools! One new large clamp I have always sticks and tried to pinch the tip of my finger off!
Katy wanted to use a dark stain on it. It wouldn’t have been my first (or 2nd or 3rd) choice, but it was hers, so dark it would be! Mind you, just as we were finished, she asked me what would happen if it didn’t match her room. “You can always tell people you into eclectic decor… or just sand and paint it!”
I learned a LOT on this build and she’s very happy with the table and so am I. I guess that’s all that matters!
* The plans called for simply gluing and nailing the drawer bottom to the base of the drawer. That seemed very weak to me, so I opted to cut a groove.