Show off Your Handcrafted Projects. It's Free! Start Sharing

Modern Side Table

author-gravatar Sean Jun 13, 2017

This modern side table was designed to be a quick project that you can build over a couple of weekends. I painted it using the Snow White milk paint from General finishes and the contrasting walnut drawer fronts really stand out.

The table is 15 3/4" wide, 48" long and is 31" tall. To build it you only need a table saw, jig saw, trim router and a drill. For the joinery, I am using the Kreg pocket hole jig and screws to help make this a quick project that anyone with a set of basic tools can build.

Check out the build photos and video below.

Products used in build (Affiliate links):
- Kreg Pocket Hole Jig
- Kreg 1 1/4" Screws
- Drill
- 1/2" Flush Trim Bit
- Pipe Clamps
- Quick Clamps
- Stain Blocker White Primer
- Snow White Milk Paint
- Semi-Gloss High Performance Top Coat
- Semi-Gloss Arm-R-Seal Varnish
- Foam Roller
- Foam Roller Inserts
- 14" Soft-Close Drawer Slides

Showcase photo of the finished project.

I begin by cutting the sides and top panel to width at the table saw since they are all the same width of 15 3/4".

Next I change the fence setting to 15" for the middle panel and cut it to width.

To cut the bottom shelf I reset the fence one last time to 10" and cut it to width.

After cutting the panels to width I needed to cut them to length using my crosscut sled at the table saw. I began by truing up one end of the panels and then using a stop block, I cut them to their final length. The top, middle and bottom panels were all cut to 46 1/2" in length and the legs were cut to 31".

Moving on to the drawers, I first cut all of the side pieces to 5 1/2" in width and then using the stop block at the crosscut sled, cut them to length.

I first set the stop block to 12 1/2" for the shorter drawer sides and then reset it to 14 3/4" for the longer drawer sides.

Before assembling the table I cut out the design elements on the legs by first striking a line 3" from the sides

And then connecting the two marks with the combination square set to 1 1/2".

Since I'm using a jigsaw to remove the waste I drilled 2 pilot holes for the saw blade to fit in for the tight turns at the corner. Before drilling, I clamped a scrap board under the leg to prevent any tear out.

I remove the waste using the jigsaw, staying 1/8" away from my line.

The jigsaw left a pretty rough cut, so to clean it up, I used a 1/2" flush trim bit in my trim router. I taped some scrap plywood on my lines that I drew earlier and referenced the edges when removing the waste with the router.

I used shop grade maple plywood for this project which means I had voids and knots to deal with. Before painting the table I filled them in with wood putty and let it dry.

Before assembling the table I sanded all of the panels with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. This not only got the surface ready for paint, but it also removed the wood filler that I applied earlier.

Next I put 4 pocket hole screws on each end of the top, middle and bottom panel to attach to the legs.

To help hold the legs vertically, I placed the pieces in pipe clamps and clamped them in place. I also used a couple of quick clamps to make sure the top of the legs and the top panel were flush.

I then install the pocket hole screws.

Next I drill the holes in the drawer dividers. One side gets 2 pocket holes and the other side of the divider gets 1 centered.

To mark the placement of the dividers I make a mark 15" from the inside edge of the leg.

I used a combination square to ensure the drawer dividers were square to the edge of the middle panel and clamped it in place.

Next I attach the divider using pocket hole screws.

Even though you won't see the pocket holes, I wanted to hide them before painting. To fill the holes I used wood filler.

Next I attached the middle panel to the drawer dividers using 2 screws in each divider.

Then 4 pocket holes on each end of the panel.

Next I drill 3 pocket holes on the underside of each end of the bottom shelf.

To make the installation of the bottom shelf a little easier, I clamped a couple of spacers to the legs that the bottom shelf will sit on while installing the screws.

After placing the shelf in place, I used a combination square set to 2 7/8" to set the spacing from the front edge of the table.

Next I used pipe clamps to secure the legs to the bottom shelf while I install the pocket screws.

Back over at the table saw I cut the drawer sides to 5 1/2" wide and then to length using a stop block at the crosscut sled.

The shorter drawer sides are 12 1/2" long and the longer drawer sides are 14 3/4".

Over at the router table I route a 1/4" groove 1/4" deep for the drawer bottoms using a 1/4" spiral bit.

Next I cut the 1/4" drawer bottoms to size at the table saw by first cutting them to 13" wide and then to 13 3/4" long.

Each drawer front gets 4 pocket holes (2 on each end) to attach to the drawer sides.

To assemble the drawers I first put the bottom panel in the side panels and then the front/back panels. I placed the box in clamps to hold it while installing the screws.

To install the drawer slides I set my combination square to 2 1/4" and used it as a reference for location and installing the drawer sides. 

I install the 3 screws per side.

With the drawer slides re-installed, I used an 1/8" shim under my combination square to measure for a template that I can use for repeatability. The measurement of the combination square is the width of the template.

This is the template I used to install the drawer slides on table.

The template is 1/16" inset from the edge and the drawer slide sits on top of the template while I install the 3 screws.

Next I cut the 3/4" walnut drawer fronts to 6 3/4" wide.

I cut each drawer front to size only after measuring the exact size referencing the opening on the table.

I pre-drilled 1/8" holes for the screws to attach the drawer fronts.

To get the correct placement of the drawer fronts I first put some double sided tape on the drawer boxes to temporarily attach the drawer fronts.

Using 1/16" shims I align the drawer front and once everything looked good, made sure to put a good amount of pressure to make sure the drawer front is held in place by the tape.

I slowly open the drawer and install the screws.

Instead of using hardware for the pulls, I put a cove on the inside bottom edge of the drawer fronts that I can use to open the drawers.

The final piece to cut was the back. I begin by cutting it to 6" wide and then to 46 1/2" long.

General Finishes was kind enough to send me a few products to use on this table. The stain blocker white primer, Snow White milk paint and the High Performance Semi-Gloss top coat. For the walnut I'm using a Semi-Gloss Arm-R-Seal wiping varnish. 

I begin the finishing process by first applying two coats of primer using a foam roller.

After the first coat of primer I sand with 320 grit sandpaper and then apply a second coat. To remove the dust from sanding in between coats, I used a damp paper towel (water).

After the second coat of primer I apply the first coat of snow white milk paint, again, using a foam roller. After the first coat of paint I sand with 320 grit sandpaper and then apply the second and final coat of paint. To remove the dust from sanding in between coats, I used a damp paper towel (water).

To protect the paint and to give it a little sheen, I applied two coats of this semi-gloss high performance top coat. I applied it with a foam roller.

After the first coat of high performance I sanded the surface with 320 grit sandpaper and applied a second coat. To remove the dust from sanding in between coats, I used a damp paper towel (water).

Since I'm using walnut for the drawer fronts I wanted to use an oil base finish to pop the grain. I applied 3 coats of a semi-gloss Arm-R-Seal with a cotton cloth.

After each coat of the varnish I sanded the surface with 320 grit sandpaper. To remove the dust from sanding, I used a tack cloth.

And finally I installed the back panel by shooting brad nails through the back panel and in to the backs of the drawer dividers.

Thanks for checking out my modern side table!

2 comments

Very nice project Sean! Love the contrast of the wood and paint! 

Thanks, Donny! I appreciate it.

@DonnyCarter  said:

Very nice project Sean! Love the contrast of the wood and paint! 

You need to be signed in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join now

Like 3