This DIY bedside table features a built-in station for recharging electronics while you recharge for a good night’s sleep.
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Build this project from a single sheet of MDF and a stock cabinet that eliminates the need to make and mount doors. To simplify hauling and handling the MDF, ask a Lowe’s associate to cut the sheet in half for two pieces roughly 48" x 48".
Refer to the cutting diagram to cut the sides and top to size. Measure the width of the stock cabinet frame (the widest point), add 1/8" as a margin for error, and cut the three shelves and front trim to that length. Then cut the bottom shelf supports and the moveable top-shelf partition to size.
Measure the actual thickness of the MDF. Measure that distance up from the bottom of each side and mark the side along its width. Then measure that distance in from the front edge. (Remember, you’ve got a left and a right side, so the layout lines mirror each other instead of looking alike.) Glue and clamp a shelf support to each side at the marks with one end of the support flush with the back edge of the side.
Measure the height of the cabinet frame. Mark the sides of the cabinet 7/8" longer than that up from the edge of the shelf support. (That leaves 3/4" for the bottom shelf thickness and a 1/8" margin.) Rest the sides on edge on a flat work surface with the three shelves in position and clamp the sides to the shelves.
If you clamp everything just tight enough to keep it from falling apart, you can shift the shelves into position and use a carpenter’s square to check that everything is square. Then tighten the clamps a bit more for a solid hold.
Measure and mark locations for screws to attach the shelves to the sides. (Avoid drilling closer than 1" from the edges.) Drill evenly spaced countersunk screw holes in the sides. Note what goes where and unclamp the assembly enough to remove one of the sides. Drill 1/8" pilot holes in the shelves for each screw.
Apply glue to the shelf ends on one side, and reattach the side. Check that everything is square and drive the #8 x 1-1/2" screws so that the heads are just below the surface. Repeat for the other side and let the glue dry. Fill the holes over the screws with wood putty.
You could save time by gluing both sides to the shelves at once, but you’ll reduce the frustration of juggling five parts and a bunch of clamps by doing only half at a time.
After the glue dries, glue and clamp the front trim piece. Glue four pairs of bun feet to form the legs, then glue and clamp the legs so they're centered on a mark set 2" in from the front, back, and sides.
Measure for the moveable top-shelf partition; leave a margin of about 1/8" on each side and 3/8" on top (to allow for the hinge). Cut the partition to size and drill four evenly spaced ventilation holes.
Drill and screw the two continuous hinges to the bottom edge of the partition. Then drill and screw the hinges to the top shelf. With the partition upright, install the magnetic catches to hold it in place.
Center the top to allow an overhang in front. Mark screw locations for attaching the top to the sides and drill countersunk pilot holes. Then remove the partition, top, and all the hardware before sanding the faces and edges of the MDF with fine-grit sandpaper.
Prime the MDF. When dry, sand lightly by hand with fine-grit sandpaper and wipe off the sanding dust. Apply at least two coats of white paint except on the upper surface of the top; allow to dry overnight.
You can brush on primer and paint, but you'll get more even coverage and fewer brush marks by using a small foam roller.
Reattach the partition and hardware. Then slide the cabinet into position so the frame rests even with the front of the shelf. (You may need to shim the bottom of the cabinet at the back to keep it from tilting.)
Screw the top to the sides, fill the screw holes with wood putty and sand smooth. Then prime and paint the top to complete your new nightstand.