Emersen Nightstand

Submitted by Ana White on Tue, 11/05/2013 - 10:36
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Build a West Elm Emmerson inspired nightstand - free DIY plans from Ana-White.com

Hi everyone!  

I can hardly believe it myself - unless I'm attempting to tie my shoes - but our baby is due in just over six weeks!!!  Yikes!

I haven't had a chance to finish up the baby changing table (it's really a buffet, but we will use it as a changing table) by adding the topper part, but that's coming soon!

We've gotten so many compliments on this piece - in person and from you on the blog - that I wanted to add a few more plans to the collection in the meantime - just in case you want this look, but need a nightstand or dresser or media console.  

It's of course inspired by the West Elm Emmerson collection - but there's tons of different versions that you can buy as well, like this one from Sundance catalog.

For the DIY version, I kept things simple, but did add a face frame, just because it helps finish out any exposed plywood ends, and we used plywood because it's more dimensionally stable than wood (especially recalimed wood) and easier to work with.  But feel free to change things up to suit your needs and taste!

Today, I'm adding the nightstand plans - they are just a scaled down version of this buffet.

Happy Building!

XO Ana

Dimensions shown in diagram


Shopping List

4x4 sheet of 3/4" plywood ripped into width of 15 1/2" x 4 feet long (three strips) OR 10 feet of any wide width board (for example a 1x12) if alterning the depth of nightstand
2x4 sheet of 1/4" plywood
1 - 1x6 @ 10 feet long
1 - 1x3 @ 8 feet long
2 - 1x2 @ 8 feet long
Recommended assembly with 1-1/4" pocket hole screws
1 1/4" finish nails
wood glue
knob or pull
may need edge banding to finish off exposed plywood ends of top

Cut List

2 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-1/2" x 17-3/4" (sides)
2 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-1/2" x 20-1/2" (shelf and bottom)
1 - 3/4" plywood @ 15-1/2" x 22" (top)
1 - 1/4" plywood @ 22" x 18" (back)

2 - 1x6 @ 15-1/2" (base sides)
1 - 1x6 @ 12-1/2" (base back)
1 - 1x3 @ 12-1/2" (base front)

2 - 1x2 @ 22"
2 - 1x2 @ 15 1/2"

4 - 1x2 @ 15-1/2" (drawer slide pieces)
2 - 1x6 @ 17-1/4" (cut these to fit so there is an 1/8" gap on each side of drawer - Expected 17-1/4" length + 1-1/2" for drawer sides + 1/4" for two side gaps = overall opening of 19")
2 - 1x6 @ 15" (drawer sides - made these a little smaller than the opening so the drawer isn't pusing against back)
Cut drawer bottom to fit - expected 15" x 18-3/4"

3 - 1x3 @ 18 3/4" (cut to fit drawer width!!!)
1 - 1x2 @ 18 3/4" (cut to fit drawer width!!!)

Tape Measure
Speed Square
Safety Glasses
Hearing Protection
Kreg Jig
Circular Saw
Miter Saw
Brad Nailer
Power Sander
General Instructions

Please read through the entire plan and all comments before beginning this project. It is also advisable to review the Getting Started Section. Take all necessary precautions to build safely and smartly. Work on a clean level surface, free of imperfections or debris. Always use straight boards. Check for square after each step. Always predrill holes before attaching with screws. Use glue with finish nails for a stronger hold. Wipe excess glue off bare wood for stained projects, as dried glue will not take stain. Be safe, have fun, and ask for help if you need it. Good luck!


Step 1

Start by building the basic box for the nightstand. Preferred method - you'll thank me later, I promise - is to use a Kreg Jig set for 3/4" thick material and attaching with 1-1/4" pocket hole screws. You can also assemble with 2" nails or screws, but the screw or nail holes will be visible on top, and it won't have the same lateral strength.

Step 2

Build your base seperately, then attach to base of nightstand. If you are using pocket holes, also drill a couple of holes on the inside facing upward so you can easily attach the base to the box.

Step 3

You can attach the back at any stage, but if you put it on now, it will help square up your box. But also, it will make reaching in to install the drawer a little snug - so your choice here.

Step 4

These guys are for helping the drawer slide inside the box after we add the face frame. Apply candle wax to these boards (after finsh is applied) so the drawer will slide easily (also apply to bottom edges of drawer).

Just glue and nail in place with 1-1/4" finish nails.

Step 5

Step 6

The drawer should be build to fit, leaving an 1/8" gap to the sides so the drawer can slide easily in and out. So measure your overall opening, and build to fit the opening.

TIP: Cut the 1/4" bottom plywood first to the opening width (19" x 15"). Test to see how the plywood slides and trim down until it slides perfectly. Then build the drawer sides to fit the bottom dimensions. The bottom can be just nailed to the sides with glue and nails.

Pocket hole users should place 3/4" pocket holes on the front and back boards, on the outsides. The false drawer face will cover them up!

Test fit and adjust as needed.

Step 7

Next, add the drawer face boards, starting at the bottom and working upward. Leave 1/8" gap all the way around.

Step 8

Finally, go back and add the shelf by marking the top height of your drawer face. Then remove the drawer, and mark attach shelf level to top of mark, so front plywood edge is hidden when drawer is closed.

Finishing Instructions
Preparation Instructions
Fill all holes with wood filler and let dry. Apply additional coats of wood filler as needed. When wood filler is completely dry, sand the project in the direction of the wood grain with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum sanded project to remove sanding residue. Remove all sanding residue on work surfaces as well. Wipe project clean with damp cloth.

It is always recommended to apply a test coat on a hidden area or scrap piece to ensure color evenness and adhesion. Use primer or wood conditioner as needed.



Wed, 01/14/2015 - 19:59

Do you think this would work with out the base and the back panel screwed into studs to wall-mount it? I was already attempting to make plans for this very nightstand and you just made my job a million times easier. I kind of have to have a wall-mounted nightstand because the platform bed I made has a drawer that comes out and would hit any nightstand over 8" deep.


Wed, 01/14/2015 - 20:01

The back would obviously have to be attached more securely in that case, of course.


Wed, 08/05/2015 - 12:44

Hi Ana, love your site!  Question for this piece: the West Elm piece is made from pine?  Will using plywood instead give it a rough finish or will that be eliminated when I sand & stain it?  I don't mind paying a bit more for wood as I plan to keep the piece for years.  Thanks in advance!

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