Cherry Nighstand (table)

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Project by McLeanVA posted 05-18-2009 04:32 PM 2272 views 6 times favorited 15 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is my first project working with a wood other than inexpensive pine from the big box stores. It was inspired by the many projects I have seen on here by my fellow LJ’s. It was modeled after a walnut nightstand on my wife’s side of the bed. It was constructed of 3/4” cherry with mortise and tenon, dowel, and biscuit joints. Without a tenon jig, a mortiser, a plane, or a drill press, this tested my patience and hand tool skills. What an amazing learning process. I learned a lot about the importance of tight fitting joints and how long it takes to pound out mortises by thumping a 1/4” chisel with the pad of my hand. My toddler’s rooms are above my garage and my wife put the smack-down on any hammering or power tools after bed time. It’s laughable, but forced me to take my time. I logged countless hours listening to late-night NPR on my shop radio while shaking the sting out of my digits.

The finish was 3 coats of Watco Danish oil (thanks poroskywood – LJ), sanding with 400 in between coats, 2 coats of rub-on poly (satin), sanded to 400 in between, a light misting of spray-on poly (semi-gloss), followed by a rubbing of paste wax on #0000 steel wool. The last step was rubbing the finish out with a terry towel. And I mean seriously rubbing. The result was a beautiful finish that brought the grain to life.

Notes for next project. Invest in a mortiser or drill press. Buy a dowel centering jig. Spend more time studying the grain patterns in mating pieces. Don’t be afraid to work with new woods.

And for those of you wondering why I didn’t add a drawer to this. Total truth… I was scared to bite off more than I could chew. I need to learn/practice dovetail joints and get my confidence up before I pile up expensive scrap wood.

I’m excited to start my next project. This site is packed to the pixel with inspirational projects from you all.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

15 comments so far

View Bovine's profile


114 posts in 3352 days

#1 posted 05-18-2009 04:55 PM

Dude, I love this piece. Nice clean lines, looks really tight. I really like what the Danish Oil did to the Cherry, I might have to try that sometime.

One question thought—the lower shelf. I can’t tell if that’s one piece or you put a frame around a raised piece. What is it? Either way, it looks really nice! Your patience really payed off on this one.

-- Kansas City, KS "Nothing is as permanent as a temporary solution"

View a1Jim's profile


117115 posts in 3601 days

#2 posted 05-18-2009 04:56 PM

Great job Mclean hard to beleave it’s your first,looks super.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View McLeanVA's profile


491 posts in 3458 days

#3 posted 05-18-2009 05:04 PM

Thanks guys.

Bovine – the shelf is 3 pieces edge glued together with biscuits. I had to knock off the corners so that they wrapped around the vertical legs. Took about 1/2” off of each corner. Then, to secure it in place I hit the front and rear horizontal braces with the biscuit jointer and mated them with biscuit joints on the shelf. Easiest way to picture it is that it floats in there and without the biscuits would drop to the floor. The 4 biscuits secure it in place and make it level with the top of the horizontal braces. Hope this makes sense. Tough to explain without excessive hand gestures.

-- Measure, cut, curse, repeat.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16275 posts in 4242 days

#4 posted 05-18-2009 05:16 PM

Excellent work. With a start like this, I can’t imagine how beautiful your future projects will be.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View poroskywood's profile


618 posts in 3388 days

#5 posted 05-18-2009 05:18 PM

This looks great! I can’t believe you pounded out the M&T joints by hand, you are a woodworking savage animal! This looks very sturdy and I like the edges. They are just softened enough instead of completely rounded over which most folks are tempted to do. This table has great depth, Danish Oil + Cherry = Sweetness but the extra work you put in on the poly really put it over the top. I’ll definitely be trying your technique on my next project.

-- There's many a slip betwixt a cup and a lip.--Scott

View tmiller's profile


103 posts in 3337 days

#6 posted 05-18-2009 10:02 PM

Great job. It looks really nice.


View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 3333 days

#7 posted 05-19-2009 05:47 AM

Your table looks reall great. Keep up the good work!

View woodspar's profile


710 posts in 4124 days

#8 posted 05-19-2009 06:17 AM

Nice, keep at it.

-- John

View Gator's profile


383 posts in 3700 days

#9 posted 05-21-2009 01:23 AM

Good job.. your hard work really paid off on the finish

-- Master designer of precision sawdust and one of a kind slivers.

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 3697 days

#10 posted 05-21-2009 01:37 AM

Nice end table.

View degoose's profile


7234 posts in 3379 days

#11 posted 05-22-2009 04:18 AM

R U shore U R not a Professional?

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View clieb91's profile


3520 posts in 3959 days

#12 posted 05-25-2009 03:58 AM

McLean, Turned out real nice. Finish looks great.

I too need to do some stuff with some wood other then pine just still blaming it on the learning curve.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View ralmand's profile


162 posts in 3327 days

#13 posted 06-04-2009 12:18 AM

I like the look! I am getting ready to try my 1st table. Still working on the exact design I want. I may ‘steal’ a thing or two from this one..:-).... Keep up the good work!

-- Randy, Allen Texas

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3846 days

#14 posted 06-04-2009 01:07 AM

This is a really nice nightstand. It is well designed, the construction looks solid and the finish is gorgeous. Cherry is my personal favorite and you did a good job with it on this piece. With the results of this build I am sure you are ready to add dovetails to your next project.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Dusty56's profile


11819 posts in 3712 days

#15 posted 12-26-2010 05:36 AM

This is a very nice table and the finish looks great from here : )
Merry Christmas !!

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

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